BY SEGUN ADEBAYO, ABUJA – Ahead of the May 29 inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari for his second and final term in office, the Federal Government on Monday announced that the ceremony will be low-keyed.
This follows the scheduling of some other events for June 12 in honour of late Chief Moshood KO Abiola who won the 1993 presidential elections annulled by former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the decision to have a subdued re-inauguration for the president was taken at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held on Wednesday, May 8.
He however told State House correspondents that invitations had been sent to world leaders to attend the ceremonies, marking the observance of Democracy Day on June 12.
Speaking on activities to mark the May 29 inauguration, the Minister said; “Since the first observance of June 12 as Democracy Day falls into an election year and as a measure to sustain June 12 as Democracy Day, the celebration of the inauguration and the advancement of democracy in the country will now take place on June 12.”
Mohammed, who announced that details of events for both ceremonies would be unveiled at a world news conference holding on May 20 in Abuja, said the country cannot afford two major celebrations within a two-week interval.
Giving further insight on the planned ceremonies, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said while May 29th remains significant as the inauguration day, all ceremonies associated with the inauguration have been deferred to June 12.
Garba told Channels TV on Monday that; “We want the world to see June 12 as this country’s most important (day) as far as democracy is concerned.”
According to him, May 29 still stands as the inauguration day in line with the Constitution that has President Buhari’s first four-year tenure ending officially on May 29, 2019.
“Let me say emphatically, it is important that the President and the governors are inaugurated on the 29th. Constitutionally, that must take place because their four-year term (2015-2019), expires on the 29th.
“However, the President will be swearing an oath, taking the oath of office as would the governors be doing, but the big ceremonies associated with the inauguration have been deferred to June 12, in order that we empower, we activate this day in a big way”.
On the venue of the event, he noted that it would take place at the Eagles Square, Abuja and the missions in the country, embassies, and other key figures will be duly represented.”
The Presidential aide stated that “Delegations will come, but we are welcoming them on June 12.”
President Buhari had in June last year, directed that beginning from this year, Nigeria’s Democracy Day that has been marked every May 29 for the past 18 years, should be moved to June 12, to honour the late Chief MKO Abiola.
Abiola had won the June 12, 1993 presidential election described as the freest and most credible in the history of electioneering in Nigeria.
However, the results of the elections were annulled by former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida on June 23, 1993 to the disappointment of most Nigerians. – With agency reports