By Ismaila Chafe
The Federal Government said President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration for a second term on May 29 will be low-key and that a number of events slated for the inauguration will be held on June 12.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the announcement when he spoke to State House correspondents on the activities slated to mark the May 29 inauguration.
Buhari had in June last year, directed that from this year, Nigeria’s Democracy Day, marked every May 29 for the past 18 years, be shifted to June 12, to honour Nigeria’s Chief Moshood Abiola.
Abiola won the June 12, 1993 presidential election but the results were annulled by former military ruler Gen. Ibrahim Babangida on June 23, 1993.
The minister said the decision to have a low-key inauguration for the president was taken at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council on May 8.
He said, however, that invitations had been sent to world leaders to attend the ceremonies, marking the observance of Democracy Day on June 12.
“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,’’ the minister said.
According to him, the country can ill-afford two major celebrations within a two-week interval.
He said that details of the events, slated for the two ceremonies would be unveiled at a world news conference, slated for May 20 in Abuja.
In a later elaboration, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told Channels TV on Monday that while May 29th remains significant as the inauguration day, all ceremonies associated with the inauguration have been deferred to June 12.
“We want the world to see June 12 as this country’s most important (day) as far as democracy is concerned,” he said.
He further explained that the May 29 inauguration will still be marked because according to the Constitution, the four-year term officially ends on the 29th.
“Let me say emphatically, it is important that the President and the governors are being 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.
“Delegations will come but we are welcoming them on June 12,” Shehu added.