The Federal Government on Thursday in Abuja held a low key celebration to mark the nation’s 55th independence anniversary.
The event, which was held at the fore-court of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, witnessed a special Presidential change of guard to mark the event, which lasted for about two hours.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, had earlier indicated that the 2015’s anniversary would be low keyed, due to the state of the country’s finances.
The SGF, who spoke through the Permanent Secretary, Political Matters office, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, said 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”.
The event started with the arrival of President Muhammadu Buhari, who appeared in white traditional attires of Babban Riga with a white cap to match.
The president inspected the quarter guards before marching to the Presidential Villa forecourt to receive national salute which was followed by rendition of the National Anthem.
The Prayers were offered by the Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, and the Deputy Chief Imam of the Abuja National Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Kabir.
The event witnessed the inspection of new Guard/Quarter guard, silent drills, posting of sentries and colour, weapons and uniforms were inspected to ensure conformity with military standards by the Commander, Brigade of Guards, Brig.-Gen. Musa Yusuf.
Shortly after the ceremony, Buhari signed the anniversary register and released pigeons from cage.
The president, assisted by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, and some top dignitaries, cut the anniversary cake.
Among those who attended the ceremony were former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former interim president Ernest Shonekan, APC National Chairman, Chief John Ayegun and former Senate President Ken Nnamani.
Others were the 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.