Buhari, Saraki come together for Independence Day celebration in Aso Rock

Buhari Saraki

Buhari SarakiPresident Muhammadu Buhari and embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki.  on Thursday met at a low key celebration to mark the nation’s 55th independence anniversary.

The event, which was held at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, witnessed a special Presidential change of guard

It comes as Saraki is facing a corruption trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

His supporters accuse Buhari of witch-hunting him following his emergence as Senate President against the wish of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Saraki himself says he is being persecuted by people using public institutions to get what they could not get through democratic process.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, had earlier indicated that the 2015 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, 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 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.

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, Brigadier General Musa Yusuf.

Shortly after the ceremony, Buhari signed the anniversary register and released pigeons from cage.

The President, assisted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Saraki; Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; the 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, General Yakubu Gowon; former Head of the Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan; the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and former Senate President, Ken Nnamani.

Others were the Service Chiefs, current and former Inspectors-General of Police, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Lieutenant General Oladipo Diya, former Senate President Joseph Wayas, top government functionaries and members of the diplomatic corps.