Muhammadu Buhari is sworn in as Nigeria’s President in historic transfer of power

Muhammadu Buhari is sworn in as Nigeria’s President in historic transfer of power.

Muhammadu Buhari, a 72-year-old retired general, took Nigeria’s oath of office on Friday, assuming the presidency of Africa’s most populous nation. The ceremony, rich with military pomp and cultural tradition, marked a historic transfer of power on the continent.

A 21-gun salute rang out across the capital, Abuja, after Buhari took the oath of office, before the Chief Justice of Nigeria, to begin a four-year term

Scores of African presidents and diplomats from across the world, including the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, watched as Buhari took over from Goodluck Jonathan, who in March became the first ever Nigerian president to lose an election.

Brass bands, two R&B singers, and a gospel choir performed, with one band playing an old Nigerian pop tune, “Better Days Come,” in what concluded a rare transfer of leadership between opposing politicians.

Clad in a white, flowing, three-piece robe traditional in his native Muslim-majority north, Buhari, who himself ruled Nigeria as military head of state in the 1980s, read his lines over the thundering cheers of a crowd of some 6,000 people.

“I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favor,” Buhari said.

He added: “The new government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations… We have an opportunity. Let us take it.”

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The devout Muslim also called Boko Haram “a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of”, while pledging efforts to free hostages, including the girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok last year.

Armed services personnel in ceremonial dress filed past to a marching band, marshaled by officers on horseback, and Buhari toured the venue in an open-topped presidential jeep, waving and clenching his right fist in a traditional Hausa greeting.

Buhari has described himself as a “converted democrat” and vowed to lead an administration committed to the needs of Nigeria’s 173 million people by cracking down on corruption.

His election victory on March 28 was the first time in Nigeria’s history that an opposition candidate had defeated a sitting president and has been hailed as a watershed for democracy.

Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) party have pledged sweeping change, particularly in job creation, boosting infrastructure, electricity supply, and insecurity.

Buhari won the support of voters largely through his tough stance against corruption. His previous time in charge was characterized by a crackdown on graft and “indiscipline”.

He said his administration would have zero tolerance for corruption but experts warn that maintaining his fragile coalition could involve working with some politicians who have a mixed past.

Buhari enjoys massive support in the north.

However, he almost certainly would have lost without the backing of partners from the predominantly Christian south, including heavyweight ex-members of the former ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who have been linked to graft.

Cabinet appointments, due in the coming days, will be closely watched.

Source(s): Daily Mail Online and WSJ Blogs – WSJ