Buhari Marks 74th Birthday, Challenges ECOWAS Leaders on Maintenance of Peace

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President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday marked his 74th birthday anniversary with a special birthday parade and inspection of the Guard of Honour mounted by the Nigerian Army.
The event, which took place at the fore-court of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, witnessed the Inspection of Guard by the president.

The Guard Brigade, headed by the Commander, Brigade of Guards, Musa Yusuf, also performed a Special Birthday Silent Drill, accompanied with special military birthday song in honour of the president.

Buhari also cut a birthday cake and released 74 pigeons from a cage as part of the activities marking the anniversary.
The president also signed birthday anniversary register where he wrote: “I am impressed with the special drills presented by the Guard Brigade.”

Service chiefs, Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; some ministers, including Lai Mohammed and Muhammad Bello of the FCT; Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Presidential spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu attended the event.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonishakin, who briefly spoke with State House correspondents, congratulated the president on his 74th anniversary.
He said: “We are celebrating the birthday of the president and we wish him well and good health. We wish him all the goodness of God as he pilots the affairs of our nation to greater heights.’’

The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, who also spoke to the correspondents said Buhari “is a great man and we are very pleased with his accomplishments over the years. He is a good leader.”

After the birthday celebration, the president proceeded to the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja for the 50th Ordinary Session of the Authority and Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.

In his welcome address, the president called on ECOWAS leaders not to allow conflict wipe out the gains recorded so far in the promotion of peace, security and economic integration in the sub region.

Buhari said West African leaders must manage conflicts more effectively because prevention, he noted, was cheaper in every respect.
He said as member states deepened their democratic experience, promote good governance and address inequality, they should devote more resources to “Early Warning Mechanisms” in order to develop an effective conflict prevention strategy.”
According to him, ECOWAS leaders have every right to feel proud of their achievements in moving the community closer to the realisation of the objectives for which it was established.

He said since the launch of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 to transform ECOWAS from ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of Peoples, the community had accomplished remarkable progress in achieving its objectives for a stable and prosperous West Africa.
He listed the achievements to include the management of conflicts as well as the maintenance of peace, stability and security in the region.
However, Buhari pointed out that ECOWAS also needed stronger political will for peace-keeping operations in the sub-region as done in the past.

Buhari stated: “As we all know, peace and security are the necessary ingredients for development as one cannot exist without the other. We’ve substantially enhanced our capacity for dealing with conflict as amply demonstrated in the quick intervention of the Community to douse tension and restore peace in Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso.

“The efforts of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, in combating terrorism in Nigeria and in the neighbouring countries have significantly degraded the capacity of Boko Haram in the region, even though sporadic attacks on soft targets have been recorded in the past few weeks, just as we’ve sustained the military pressure on the terrorists”, he added.While responding to questions on the furniture provided on the road, the state spokesman stressed that for the road to accommodate the traffic challenge along the corridor, government designed it to be a dual carriage-way with 7.3m width each.
According to him, the road laced with 1100 by 600 * 150mm thick cover drain of 4.8km length for the provision of adequate drainage system and to serve as pedestrian walkways along both sides of the road while duct were constructed for service lines that may likely be drawn along the corridor in future.

The commissioner said the road was built on 200mm thick stone base and 90mm thick asphalt pavement to accommodate heavy axle loads, while 14 bus shelters and 2 bus terminals were constructed at the two ends, apart from three big parking lots of 1000 capacity each built to check mate indiscriminate parking along the roadsides that formerly inflicted traffic congestion on the road.

He further explained that illumination on the road in the night was also taken care of by constructing bright street light along the concrete median of the road. The project unveiling continues till February next year.