Residents of Abuja and Lagos celebrate the first-ever democratic transfer of power in Nigeria, as former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari is inaugurated as president.
ABUJA, NIGERIA (MAY 29, 2015) (REUTERS) – Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as president of Nigeria on Friday (May 29) at a ceremony in the capital attended by numerous African heads of state and foreign dignitaries including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Dressed in traditional Muslim attire, the 72-year-old general stood on the stage clutching a Koran in his right hand as he pledged to “preserve, protect and defend” the constitution of Africa’s most populous nation.
The formal swearing-in marks a remarkable political turn-around for Buhari, who has gone from military dictator in the mid-1980s to a born-again democrat swept to power on the back of a landslide victory at the ballot box in March.
However, he inherits a host of problems from outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan, whose five years in charge were marked by massive corruption scandals and aimless or haphazard economic, security and foreign policy-making.
There were celebrations across Nigeria on Friday as residents welcomed the first-ever democratic transfer of power in the country’s history.
“I feel very happy for the inauguration today. The great man in Nigeria’s history has emerged as the president of the federal republic of Nigeria. I’m very very happy,” said Musa Sulaimon, resident in Abuja.
“I feel so elated, Nigeria has a new opportunity and a new beginning with an honest man who is serious and focused and determined,” Abimbola Laniyan, another resident said.
In Lagos, residents gathered to watch the inauguration ceremony in local bars.
Many hope Buhari can bring an an end to the corruption and violence in Northern Nigeria which has plagued the country during Jonathan’s time in office.
“I am elated today to be part of this ceremony because this is a day we all have been waiting for, the day has come because we know what we are expecting from the new government is a way forward for this country whereby things will be done the right way so that when things are done in the right way, there’ll be less corruption, the country will be able to move forward like any other nation in the world,” restaurant owner, Tom Ekurebo said.
Businessman in Lagos, Kennedy Nnadi also expressed his excitement.
“Wonderful, that’s a great day, a real great day for Nigeria, a real great day for everyone and also a day of a new era, a new dawn and a new change and we’ve been waiting for this and I feel like break dancing, you can see me, I feel like, you know, kicking it,” he said.
Buhari, a Muslim northerner who made history by becoming the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent president at the polls, has a reputation for incorruptibility.
After seizing power in 1983, he cracked down on corruption and indiscipline during the 18 months he spent as head of state before being ousted.
His message of discipline and sobriety chimed with voters’ sentiments last month as the country’s economy creaks under the weight of slowing growth and rising inflation.