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Obasanjo absent as Gowon, Jonathan celebrate with Buhari

L-R: Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Dame Patience Jonathan; former President Goodluck Jonathan; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President Muhammadu Buhari; and his wife, Aisha (left) aL-R: Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Dame Patience Jonathan; former President Goodluck Jonathan; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President Muhammadu Buhari; and his wife, Aisha (left) at Eagle Square during the celebration of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary in Abuja… on Thursday.

The celebration of the 60th independence anniversary of Nigeria, which took place at the popular Eagle Square in Abuja was unique as a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, and former President Goodluck Jonathan joined the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to sign the anniversary register.

They were the only past Nigerian leaders at the event also attended by a former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya; former Vice-President, Namadi Sambo; and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was conspicuously absent at the event.

The event, however, coincided with the 10th year anniversary of the bomb explosion planted by militants under the aegis of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta.

About 12 persons, including security operatives, died in the twin bomb blasts, while 17 others were seriously injured.

The parade, which was made up of the nation’s armed forces and para-military agencies, also witnessed a display of traditional dances and other performances by military and civilian artists.

The high point of the ceremony was the Nigerian Air Force’s display, which had to be scaled down because of poor weather conditions.

The fly-past was led by two Agusta helicopters actively involved in combat operations, one of which bore the banner of the theme of the celebration.

The helicopters were followed by three Alpha jets used for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations.

The jets were followed by Air 39ZA, also involved in operations in the North-East.

The low-keyed event had very tight security arrangements as personnel of the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services, Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were seen mounting guards at strategic points in the arena.

Buhari did not deliver any other address at the event as he had earlier made a nationwide broadcast.

The PUNCH reported that on October 1, 2010, while Nigeria was marking her 50th anniversary, two car bombs went off near the Eagles Square, killing 12 persons and leaving over 17 injured.

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