Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government yesterday allayed fears of world leaders, invited to witness the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office, of their safety.
It said despite security concerns over the spate of kidnappings and recent disclosure of an alleged plot to forcibly take over the government by the opposition, government had stepped up measures to guarantee the safety of world leaders and other invited guests.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at a press conference organised by the Media and Publicity Committee of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, yesterday in Abuja, assured guests and others that the country is safe for them to attend the event, slated for June 12, 2019.
Asked about measures being taken to make the country safe since he had raised the alarm that the opposition was planning to sabotage the government, he said he would not disclose such measures publicly.
“Nigeria is safe for all world leaders to attend the inauguration… Even if we are taking measures, will I tell you here?” Mohammed said.
Mohammed addressed journalists in conjunction with other members of the committee, which included the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen Mansur Dan Ali (rtd); Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu; Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Baura Buhari and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama.
Mohammed said invitations had since been sent out to the world leaders.
According to him, they will be safe while in the country for the Democracy Day celebration on June 12 as security agencies are already addressing the concerns.
He also shed more light on why the federal government decided to hold a low-key swearing in for Buhari on May 29, 2019 while the main celebration would hold on June 12.
He said the federal government could not afford the costs of two celebrations within a period of less than two weeks.
According to the minister, the swearing-in of the president and the vice-president will hold at the Eagle Square, to be followed by a state banquet at the State House later in the day.
The minister said the country would have a full-blown celebration, to mark the first observance of June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day, adding that public holidays will be declared in commemoration of that day as well as the Presidential Inauguration Day.
Mohammed also gave details of the events that have been slated for both the inauguration and the Democracy Day.
“You will recall that Mr. President last year declared June 12 as Democracy Day and a national holiday. He also said the official commencement of the new Democracy Day would be in 2019. It is in fulfillment of this declaration, therefore, that the Federal Executive Council decided, at its meeting on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, to have a low-key presidential inauguration on May 29; and then defer the celebration that comes with it to the June 12 Democracy Day,” Mohammed said.
He said activities leading to the inauguration of Buhari that officially kicked off with yesterday’s press conference would be followed by the commencement of a three-day National Youth Entrepreneurship Empowerment Summit in Abuja on May 21 (today).
He added that the Federal Executive Council valedictory session would hold tomorrow while the First Lady’s interaction with women is slated for May 25.
“The events celebrating June 12 as Democracy Day will kick off on June 7, with a Historical Exhibition in Arts, Pictures and Immersive Environment and run through June 12,” he added.
Meanwhile, the president has said he would do his best to ensure that Nigerians live in peace.
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying this when he broke fast with the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
According to Shehu, the president expressed sadness over the loss of lives and destruction of property in Zamfara, which is under siege by bandits.
Buhari left Nigeria to observe umrah (lesser hajj) in Saudi last Thursday and is expected back in the country today.