Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has been treated to a surprise birthday parade by the Presidential aides and Presidential Guards Brigade at the Presidential Villa.
The brief ceremony was part of activities marking his 76th birthday.
Thereafter, the president called on Nigerians to pray for him to be able to work for the benefit of all.
The ceremony began with the inspection of quarter guard at the ceremonial gate of the State House, was followed by a special rendition that ushered him into the forecourt.
This was then followed by a special performance by the silent drill squad of the Guards Brigade, which included the formation of words PMB at 76.
Next was a special display by the Guards Brigade Band, which was followed by the presentation of birthday cards to the president.
Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, presented a birthday card on behalf of the country’s armed force, while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, also presented a card on behalf of members of cabinet.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, presented on behalf of presidential aides while the Guards Brigade also made a special presentation.
The high point of the event was the cutting of the birthday cake by the president, flanked by ministers and aides.
President Buhari while reacting to the surprise birthday treat given to him by his aides and guards brigade said: “Well, I am impressed with it; they have put a lot of time behind it. I thank and appreciate them very much.
“Nigerians should continue to pray for me and understand my intentions and give me time.”
On what Nigerians should expect going forward, the President said: “We will keep reminding Nigerians about what we have done, how we met the country, what we have been able to do from the time we came in to now with the resources available to us.”
The Mustapha, said it was exciting to share in the president’s joyous day.
The SGF said it was a simple ceremony which included parade and cutting of the cake before he returned to his desk to continue with his schedule for the day.
“In a typical, simplistic manner, just a simple military parade and the cutting of the cake because he has got work to together.
“He has just returned to the office to continue with the day’s proceedings; he came out of an event – 2018 National Migration Dialogue – and then straight into this. But it is such a joyous and beautiful day to see him strong, healthy and hearty considering the health challenges he went through in the last two years. We cannot wish him any other thing but bountiful health and wisdom to take this country out of the present situation which we find ourselves, a trajectory of prosperity and progress.”
On what Nigerians should expect from now, Mustapha said: “They should expect a lot. The president is renewed in his spirit, strength and in his resolve and determination to put this country back on the part of greatness; that is his ultimate desire, that every Nigerian young, old, upcoming should be able to see whatever desire they want to achieve in the nation that is so endowed with a lot of wealth, a lot of goodness but have not able to live up to expectations. There will be a lot that will be released in the next couple of days and Mr. President is so strong and determined to hit the road and I can tell you by the time he starts, Nigerians will be able to have a lot to be thankful for.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President, Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said Buhari remains a man of unparalleled humility and tremendous integrity.
“As the president turns 76 today, we can only wish him the very best. (He is) a man of unparalleled humility, a man of tremendous integrity. I mean you can say anything about the president but you know he is not corrupt; he will not steal your money.
“At this point in time, that is the kind of leader we need. When I heard about people talking about China, half of the people contesting for offices today would have been executed if they were in China.
“When you see countries that have grown there has been discipline, they fight against corruption. We need those two things for our country today and President Buhari is providing that discipline. He is at the forefront of the fight against corruption and he is ensuring that sanity is coming back. It’s like building a house. No matter how hard you build you need a good foundation; that is what we are going through now, painful period but I tell you, we can only reap tremendous benefits. We need to support the president and Insha Allah he will lead us by the grace of God till 2023 in our nation.”
Dan-Ali, on his part said the armed forces and other security agencies were proud of the way Buhari was leading the security agencies in the country.
He said: “We thank God for seeing him through to reach this age of 76. We are all proud as members of the armed forces and security of Nigeria to present a birthday card to him for leading us very well. We thank him for the support he has been giving the armed forces and other security agencies in Nigeria. Despite the security challenges we have reached a milestone in the past three years, we have achieved a lot.”
He assured that the Nigerian armed forces would put in more efforts, adding “he has always encouraged us to work harder; we have achieved a lot but we still need to do more.”
Commander, Guards Brigade, Brig. General Umar Musa, said they were delighted to put up the surprise parade.
He said: “The decision to put up this parade is because handling ceremonial activities in the State House, either personal or official, is the responsibility of Guards Brigade. It is in that regard, that we decided to organise this surprise birthday package for Mr. President. He was not aware until the preparation was completed.
“This is a rear privilege to have Mr. President come out and this will engineer us to do more; we will redouble our efforts in the course of our duty in the State House.”