The Federal Government on Tuesday held a low key celebration to mark the nation’s 53rd independence anniversary at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
There was a special Presidential change of guard to mark the occasion yesterday. The ceremony, which lasted for about two hours, was held at the fore-court of the Presidential Villa, Abuja to replace the normal full military parade and entertainments characteristic of the previous ones held at the Eagle Square.
President Goodluck Jonathan had earlier indicated that this year’s anniversary would be low keyed involving only the usual change of guards which he said was a normal exercise always done on Monday mornings but for the independence anniversary, it was shifted to yesterday.
The event started with the arrival of President Jonathan. He however did not appear in his ceremonial military uniform. He inspected the quarter guards before marching to the Villa forecourt to receive national salute which was followed by rendition of the National Anthem.
The Prayers were offered by the President of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritshejafor who read from the Holy Bible Genesis 8:5 before rendering Christian prayer while the Chief Imam of the Abuja National Mosque, Shiek Usman Muhammad rendered Moslem prayer.
The event witnessed the inspection of new Guard/Quarter guard, silent drills, posting of sentries and color, the inspection of weapons and uniforms were inspected to ensure conformity with military standards.
Shortly after the ceremony, President Jonathan signed the anniversary register, released pigeons from cage and assisted by some top dignitaries, he cut the anniversary cake.
Among those who attended the ceremony include PDP Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; Primate of Anglican Communion, Arch Bishop Rev. Nicholas Okoh; PDP BOT Chairman, Chief Tony Anineh; Former Information Minister, Prof Jerry Gana; Former Senate President, Sen. Adolphus Wabara; and Former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon. Others were the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal and his Deputy, Emeka Ihedioha; Senate President, Sen. David Mark; Former Head of Civil Service, Steven Orasenye; Former Senate President, Sen. Ken Nnamani, Former head of the Interim National Govt, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Chief Justice of the Federation; Service Chiefs; Ministers and top government functionaries and members of the diplomatic corps.