President Muhammadu Buhari and many other dignitaries on Thursday in Abuja held a low key celebration to mark Nigeria’s 55th independence anniversary.
The Street Journal recalls that Nigeria got her independence from her British colonial masters on October 1, 1960.
The Federal Government had earlier through the Permanent Secretary, Political Matters office, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, said that this year’s anniversary would be low keyed, due to the state of the country’s finances.
The anniversary celebration which lasted about two hours took place at the fore-court of the Presidential Villa, and featured a special Presidential change of guard to mark the event.
Kick-starting the low-keyed ceremony, Buhari who spotted an all-white native Babanriga with a traditional white cap to match, inspected the quarter guards before marching to the Presidential Villa forecourt to receive national salute, followed by rendition of the National Anthem.
The Commander, Brigade of Guards, Brigadier-General Musa Yusuf, inspected the new Guard/Quarter guard, silent drills, posting of sentries and colour, weapons and uniforms before Buhari signed the anniversary register and released pigeons from cage.
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and the Deputy Chief Imam of the Abuja National Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Kabir, offered prayers at the event.
The event was attended by dignitaries, among whom were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
Also in attendance were former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former interim president Ernest Shonekan, APC National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun and former Senate President Ken Nnamani.
Others included Service Chiefs, current and former Inspectors-General of Police, former vice-president Alex Ekwueme, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, former Senate President Joseph Wayas, top government functionaries and members of the diplomatic corps.
It would be recalled that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, while giving reasons for the planned low-keyed celebration this year, stated that Buhari had made it a policy that it will be unfair to spend so much in celebrating at the expense of ordinary Nigerians who are grappling with poverty.