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Independence day celebration
Eagle square was the scene of the october 1 bomb blast in 2010

Independence Day Celebration: Is it the end of the road for Eagle Square?

For the fifth year in a row, Eagle Square, Abuja will be snubbed from hosting the Independence day celebration of the Most populous black nation in the world.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration withdrew the hosting rights of the Abuja venue of spectacle following a 2010 Independence Day bombing. The site sadly became the scene of multiple car bomb explosions that claimed more than 20 lives and maimed many more during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence from Britain.

Since that bloody attack, Eagle square has been shut out from hosting the celebrations and even with a new administration in place, 2015 is no different.

The 2010 bomb explosions took place a few meters away from the venue of the celebration which was attended by several African leaders, foreign diplomats, and other notable people. The guests were startled when two cars rigged with explosives went up in flames, killing passersby and some security agents.

A Nigerian insurgent group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) later claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks. The militant group had been waging a low-level insurgency against the Nigerian government and oil companies before then. The 2010 explosions marked the first time MEND struck at the heart of Nigerian power.

Prior to the bombs going off, the militants had issued warning messages via cell phone texts.

“There is nothing worth celebrating after 50 years of failure,” their statement read. It continued,

“For 50 years the people of the Niger Delta have had their land and resources stolen from them.” The group had warned further that some of their operatives working inside the government security services had planted explosives devices in some cars near the venue of the events.

So much for history, like they say; when two Elephants fight only the grass will suffer. The decisions the Nigerian Government took after the attacks not only ensured that the square was not a target for subsequent attacks but also made it a ghost of itself. The parade and other activities to mark Independence Day had been permanently shifted to the Presidential Villa by Dr. Jonathan though with claims that the country needed to reduce cost, albeit new President Muhammad Buhari has opted to tow the line of the former President.

This situation has even been worsened by the murderous activities of the extremist Islamic sect, Boko Haram.


Independence day celebration

Before the October 1, 2010 bomb blast, which claimed at least 20 lives, the Eagle Square was the worthy host for a customary grand ceremony.

The Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, which has been a ceremonial ground for many national events was constructed in 1999 primarily to serve as the platform for the official take off of Nigeria’s fourth republic.
Since its construction, the large sized open amphitheatre-like structure has served as the official arena for symbolic transfer of power and inauguration of the new government, notably the swearing-in ceremony of the executive president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as well as, in staging a number of political rallies/programmes,
religious crusades/rallies, musical concerts/shows, launchings and award ceremonies.

Read also: Is Tafawa Balewa Square The Forgotten Race Course Of Independence?
Conveniently set within the precincts of the major landmarks of the Federal Capital Territory; the Eagle Square is flanked on both sides by the federal secretariat which hosts most of governments ministries, departments and agencies; it equally faces Nigeria’s national cenotaph, the National Assembly Complex and Supreme Court with a fabulous view of the Aso Rock Hills that serve as a back drop to Presidential Villa while to its rear is a car parking lot capable of holding at least 500 vehicles

From all indications, the presidency will hold a lowkey celebration inside Aso Rock yet again

This will be the first independence day celebration for Muhammadu Buhari as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following in the path of his predecessor.

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