From: Molly Kilete, Abuja
The weekly change of guards parade organised by the Guards Brigade, Nigerian Army, will hold weekly at the national cenotaph Abuja. This is aimed at improving the relationship between the military and civil populace.
The ceremony, held to usher in new sets of soldiers to take over security duties from their colleagues, of the President and Vice President and their families, before now, had held at the Presidential villa.
At the maiden edition, held at the national cenotaph, opposite the Eagle Square, Nigerians trooped out in their hundreds to watch the colourful parade with many using their telephone sets to record the event.
The commander Guards Brigade, Brigadier-General Musa Yusuf, told journalists in an interview that the shift in venue was aimed at entertaining members of the public and make them believe in their army.
Gen. Musa, who described the parade as a routine in the Brigade said: “The essence of the parade is just to show Nigerian what we do every Monday in the villa and to entertain people also and that way, we are strengthening the military civil relationship because the Nigerian army is an army for Nigerians so we are doing this to also entertain Nigerians”.
“We have the security change of guards which normally takes place every Saturday, then the ceremonial guard parade on Monday.
“While in Lagos, it used to be carried out in public, however, since the relocation of the seat of government to Abuja, it was done only at the villa.
“In 2008, the present National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Munguno, introduced the change of guards here. However, after two or three parades, it was discontinued and no reason was given.
“Last year, after the October 1 parade, the Chief Of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, directed that we commence a change of guards parade every Saturday, to which we complied.
But because of the low turnout of spectators on Saturdays being a weekend, he directed that we choose a day within the week to conduct the parade and we chose Wednesday and that is why we are here today.
“Before the parade, we liaised with the police, road safety and the Civil Defence for the control of traffic and crowd,” he said.