Akin Akande, Abuja
As part of activities marking the 53rd Independence anniversary of the nation, President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday at the State House, Abuja, inspected the traditional Change of Guards Parade mounted by 136 officers of the Nigerian Army.
Since 2010 when a twin bomb blast went off at Eagle Square during the Golden Jubilee celebration of the nation’s independence, which left scores of people dead, the independence anniversary has been confined to State House and low key too.
The colourful event featured the inspection of a New Guard/Quarter Guard; a Silent Drill; Posting of Sentries and Colour Patrol as well as Echelon Reporting of Parade.
The ceremony showcased Nigerian Army’s rich military traditions and heritage, including the accompanying martial music dished out by band of the Brigade of Guards.
The President also signed the Independence Anniversary Register and released 53 white pigeons to symbolise peace in the country.
Prayers for the nation were said by the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor and the Chief Imam of the National Mosque, Musa Mohammed.
Among senior government officials at the event were Vice-President Namadi Sambo; Senate President David Mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Anyim Pius Anyim; Head of Service; ministers and special advisers in the Presidency and federal lawmakers.
Formers heads of State, Yakubu Gowon and Ernest Shonekan, and former Chief of General Staff, Oladipo Diya, were also in attendance.
Also in attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff; other service chiefs; the Inspector-General of Police; heads of other security and paramilitary agencies; and foreign envoys and defence attaches of the various foreign missions as well as chieftains of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Bamanga Tukur.
Commander of the Guards Brigade, the elite corps of soldiers who guard the President, Aso Rock Villa and the Federal Capital Territory, Brigadier General Emmanuel Atewe, in a chat with journalists called on Nigerians to be patriotic and prayerful and support the President in his programmes.
“I want Nigerians to be more prayerful and committed to this nation. With the kind of President we have now, I see Nigeria surpassing many other nations,” he said.