Thanks to Thessa Brongers, who made it there on time, for the selection of pictures below:.
The crowd was colourful - in both skin and dress, although the batauri as always attracted an unequal share of attention with all of us being called upon to expound the wonder of Nigerian culture to advertise to international audiences everywhere.
VSOs - Dutch Esther from Akwa Ibom down south, Ugandan John Kizza based with us in Fantsuam and Irish David Mulligan working with SMEDAN in Abuja (and my host)
The evening was rounded off with an excellent fish supper at the Abachi Barracks - an experience that no visitor to Abuja should miss, except perhaps those with a delicate stomach and an aversion to the largest fish barbecue this side of Billingsgate. Unfortunately it really is in a barracks and I was reliably (and quite categorically) informed that any attempts to photograph this lively scene would be countered by unfeasible numbers of Nigerian military that, though not obviously present, would appear at the merest hint of a flash.
Once again everyone wanted to shake our (or in fact David's) hand and wanted to be snapped. I felt wonderfully at home when for the first time in a week in Abuja my greetings of 'sannu' (hello) or 'nagode' (thank you) elicited broad smiles from the predominantly Hausa northerners.
One of the largest contingents was from Minna in Niger State - or more specifically from former president Babangida where the splendour of the horsemen was only outshone by the white horse-drawn carriage and gold outfit of, we were told, Babangida's daughter. NB he's either an extremely spritely 80 year old or this was a grand- or great-grand daughter given her slight size.
The crowd stayed in position for the complete event with breaks only to be interviewed by passing journalists.
As we left, burnt red (or in David's case, purple) by the midday sun, we passed the weary horses, now disrobed and appearing somewhat smaller than their previous regal status - tethered at regular intervals in the motorway's central reservation.