by Stanley Azuakola
Before yesterday, the presidential guards’ brigade consisted of the 177 and 7 battalions. With the inauguration yesterday at the fore-court of the Presidential Villa of the newly formed 176 Special Forces Battalion, that number has increased to three.
The guards’ brigade is a special unit of the military specifically charged with the responsibility of the security of the president and the seat of government. And according to the minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, the 176 Special Forces Battalion was established to strengthen the guards’ brigade and make it more effective in response to security challenges.
The inauguration ceremony was part of the activities lined up to mark Nigeria’s 52nd independence anniversary.
Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, said the ceremony was special and grand in marking the independence of a nation. He also explained the rationale behind having another low-key independence celebration, saying that this was to save costs and adequately prepare for the big event of 2014, when the nation would mark 100 years of existence from the amalgamation of 1914.
“The anniversary is also low-keyed this year taking place within the precincts of the State House. President Jonathan has personally responded to the allegation that the event is being held within the State House by making it clear that in 2014, we will have a big event; the centenary of Nigeria since amalgamation,” Abati said.
“Few years ago, we had the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence and that was a big event. The President’s take on this is that between that 50-year anniversary and the centenary of Nigeria’s amalgamation, we should have low-keyed celebrations. Those who are looking for celebration on a grand scale should wait till 2014 when we will have the 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation,” he said.
According to reports:
The celebration was marked with a ceremonial change of guards by the outgoing and incoming quarter guards and guards’ brigade. There were also parade and military display Brigade of Guards, inspection of fitness and weapons, a symbolic colour-parade as well as band parade in different military tones and melodies.
The president, assisted by the service chiefs and heads of other para-military agencies, released pigeons, signifying the unfettered peace and harmony of the nation. The president also signed the anniversary register and cut the cake decked in national colours.