* Sambo preaches unity of the country
* 20 point agenda on how to get out of recession sent Buhari – Saraki
* future rosy if Nigeria follows rightous path – Ukiwe
From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
It was another low key celebration to mark the nation’s 56th independence anniversary at the Aso Rock Villa.
Since October 1st, 2010 when the anniversary celebration witnessed bomb blasts at the Eagle Square, Abuja, the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan has marked all subsequent anniversaries in Aso Rock.
This is President Muhammadu Buhari’s second independence celebration since he took over the leadership of the nation on May 29 last year.
Prominent leaders who joined Buhari for the celebration were former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and saw former Vice President Namadi Sambo, who was visiting the Villa for the first time, since the Goodluck Jonathan administration ended last year.
The event, which held at the fore-court of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, witnessed special presidential change of guard to mark the nation’s independence anniversary, lasted for about two hours.
The event started with the arrival of President Buhari, who appeared in white traditional attires of Baban 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 Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory Christian Association of Nigeria, Israel Akonji, and the Sheik Ahmed said the Muslim prayers.
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 a cage.
The president, assisted by Osinbajo; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, and some top dignitaries, cut the anniversary cake.
Among those who attended the ceremony were former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd), APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and former chief of general staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd).
Others were the Service Chiefs, top government functionaries and members of the diplomatic corps.
In a brief chat with State House correspondents, Osinbajo said in the next few years, “we will demonstrate the real capacity of our country in every area of our life We will prevail”.
Sambo, on his part called for unity of the country.
The former vice president who spoke to Hausa Service said, “Is important for all Nigerians to be united so that we can give support to the administration
“God has appointed every leader, we should pray for our leaders and support them to ensure that Nigeria becomes great”.
Saraki on his part expressed confidence that Nigeria will come out of recession soon.
He said the National Assembly has already sent a 20 point agenda to the executive to help Nigeria come out of recession,adding that NASS has already started implementing four.
“Already, as you have seen, we have sat down to address the important issue which is the economy. We have come out with about 20 point resolutions to the executive that we think they should do. We also have about four for ourselves. And we have started doing it already. The last session, we started addressing some of these issues that we are sure will make us come out of this recession in a short while. We will start preparing for 2017 budget to ensure that there will be releases of funds that would be spent to do that”.
On the issue of the Niger-Delta, the Senate President said, “we will also be favorably disposed in looking at the budget of amnesty Programme in 2017 to send the right signal. This is what we are looking at. We understand the challenges and we will play our own role to ensure we get out of it”.
Ukiwe on his part said Nigeria’s nagging problems can be corrected if those in authority follow the path of righteousness.
He said, “There are many way of sharing or understanding what the future could be. If we follow the path of righteousness and correct all the nagging problems, the future will be rosy. But if we continue allowing all the problems all over the place, disrupting the society with the worst of crimes and so on, the future will be bleak. But I chose to believe that we can make the future much better that what it is now”.
Diya expressed happiness that Nigeria was moving ahead despite its problems.
He said, “Nigeria is moving ahead. As we go ahead, we encounter all problems. We fix the problems, we pray to God that the strength of Nigeria should be sustained. We should remain united and happy.