Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and former President Goodluck Jonathan, were the only former Nigerian leaders that joined President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Eagle Square to celebrate the nation’s 60th Independence Anniversary in Abuja, yesterday.
Both former leaders were also on hand when the president signed anniversary register during the ceremony.
Other notable personalities at the event were the former Chief of General Staff, General Oladipo Diya and former vice president Namadi Sambo.
The over three-hour ceremony also had in attendance top members of the administration, the Diplomatic Corps and other invited guests.
Before the commencement of activities to mark the day, President Buhari inspected the guards in parade in an open car to give them the opportunity to show their respect and loyalty to him.
The parade was made up of the nation’s armed forces including the Army, Air Force and Navy as well as the para-military forces (Prisons, Immigration, Customs), fire service, road safety, civil defence) legion, labour and National Youth Service Corp’s (NYSC).
There was also combined silent drill/mass band/civilian display with the theme: 60 Together (a display of traditional dances and other performances by a combined military and civilian artistes.)
The high point of the ceremony was the Nigerian Air Force display, which had to be scaled down because of poor weather conditions.
The fly past was led by two Agusta helicopters, both actively involved in combat operations, one of which bore the banner of the theme of the celebration.
The helicopters were followed in echelon by three Alpha jets used for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations such as ECOMOG, Northern Mali, Niger Delta operations.
The jets were followed by Air 39ZA also involved in operations in the North East and North West.
The Air Force explained that the fly past was less elaborate than planned because of low clouds at the Eagle Square.
The event closed with the signing of register, three hearty cheers led by parade commander and national salute accompanied by 21 artillery volleys.