The occasion of Nigeria’s 55th Independence Anniversary finally provided an opportunity for the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
There had been reports in the media suggesting that Buhari has frustrated all efforts by Saraki to see him following the manner the latter emerged as Senate President against entrenched interests in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
Joined by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the leaders preceded to the President’s office for small talks after sharing light refreshments at the venue of the independence ceremony.
In a brief chat with newsmen after the meeting, Saraki spoke of Nigeria after 55 years of independence, saying “I am hopeful and confident that the future is very bright. In the next few years, things will be even better.
“It will not be business as usual. We will ensure that the National Assembly will be people-oriented and will make laws that will make impact on Nigerians.”
On his part, the Chief Justice simply said, “We will make it by the grace of God. We are on the right path.”
Meanwhile, the one-and-half-hour Independence Anniversary event took place at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, decorated in green and white colours and featured the ceremonial Presidential Change of Guards Parade.
The parade was mounted by officers and men of the 177 Battalion and 7 Battalion of the Presidential Guards Brigade, Abuja.
Other features of the colourful event included inspection of new guard/quarter guard; silent drill; posting of sentries; colour/flags patrol; 21-gun salute and echelon reporting of parade, among others.
There were also foot and arms drill, rhythmic march steps, and inspection by parade commander of the soldiers’ weapons to ensure they were battle ready.
At the end of the parade, President Buhari signed the independence anniversary register and released white pigeons to signify peace.
He was accompanied in carrying this out by a few of the dignitaries present, including the Service Chiefs; Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase; and former leaders.
Among other dignitaries at the event were former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), and erstwhile Head of the defunct Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.
Former Vice-President, Alex Ekwueme; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, and former Chiefs of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe and Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd); and former Senate President, Joseph Wayas, attended the ceremony.
There were also National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Oyegun; APC governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babagana Kingibe; former IGP, Tafa Balogun; and members of the diplomatic corps.