Nigerians and their political leaders kept hope alive yesterday as President Muhammadu Buhari and 29 state governors were sworn into office for a four-year tenure.
In separate comments on what the new dispensation holds for them, the citizens comprising lawmakers, political parties, religious and traditional leaders as well as other stakeholders expressed confidence in the ability of Buhari and the state chief executives to justify the mandate given to them by the electorate.
The new governors added to the growing optimism as they unveiled their governance agenda after taking the oath of office. Some of them including Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, offered free education to their people while others, especially the Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, donated his salary to pensioners in the state. His Kaduna State counterpart declared a six-month maternity for civil servants and promised to unite the people.
Other governors, particularly from the South East zone put aside political affiliations as they congratulated President Buhari on his inauguration for a second term and expressed the hope that he would make all Nigerians happier in the days ahead.
In Abuja, President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took their oath of office for a second term in office, which was administered by the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Mohammed.
The event, which was held at the Eagle Square in the Abuja city centre, was attended by prominent Nigerians and businessmen as well as leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and some ministers, who served in Buhari’s dissolved cabinet.
The APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, his predecessor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun alongside the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the pioneer interim chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, were in attendance.
Others in attendance were the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
The event was also attended by governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), and former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari.
Buhari took his oath of office at 10:38 am, with his wife, Aisha beside him. This was shortly after Osinbajo took his, also accompanied by his wife, Dolapo.
However, President Buhari did not make any official speech, an action, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) criticized.
After signing the oath register, the president remained on the dias to witness the symbolic lowering of the Nigerian and Defence flags and the hoisting of new ones by the military at the centre of the Eagle Square.
This was followed by a military 21-gun salute after which the president was driven round the Eagle Square in an open vehicle from which he waved to guests and inspected the military guard of honour mounted by men and officers of the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force and the Police.
Earlier in the day, all entrances leading into the Federal Capital City, Abuja were manned by heavily- armed security personnel amid fears of a possible breach of security.
Motorists and travellers intending to connect other parts of the country through Abuja faced hard traffic gridlock from the Keffi and City Gate axis as early as 6am as security operatives mounted road checks.
Residents intending to move from one part of the city to another and some guests invited to the inauguration ceremony were held in the traffic for hours.
To mark the day, the federal government declared yesterday as a public holiday while the inauguration ceremony was low-key. The elaborate celebration is shifted to June 12, the new official Democracy Day.
Nigeria’s Best Level Has Begun, Says Osinbajo
In line with the renewed hope, Vice President Osinbajo at the inauguration dinner/gala night assured Nigerians that the best level of Nigeria started yesterday when the next level administration kicked off.
He said that himself and his principal (Buhari) would defend the trust Nigerians reposed on them during their second term in office.
Osinbajo said: “We will defend the trust Nigerians reposed on us. The best years of Nigeria begin today.
“From 12 last night to 10:30am there was virtually no president and vice president in the country. We were happy that there was no problem. I will like to thank Mr. Senate President for not doing anything funny”, he added.
Osinbajo attended the gala night with his wife, Dolapo, along with Boss Mustapha, the secretary of the government of the federation (SGF).
It was attended by former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Oshiomhole who gave the toast.
He said that those who thought Nigeria’s problems would be insurmountable were having a rethink.
Oshiomhole said that no matter the challenges the country is going through, the sum total is that it is bigger than the problems.
Earlier in his address, Mustapha said that the dinner was the climax of the series of programmes which began on May 20, 2019 with a world press conference.
He said: ““The solemn ceremony is significant for several reasons. It is the official commencement of the new mandate freely given by Nigerians as a measure of confidence in their leadership and stewardship. It also marks 20 years of unbroken democracy in our country. The people cheered and the heavens heard. The good weather signifies a bright beginning and greater years ahead.”
IPAC, Religious, Traditional Leaders Want Focus On Power, Job Creation, Security
In a reaction, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) advised Buhari to give priority to power generation and job creation in his second tenure.
IPAC national chairman, Peter Ameh, gave the piece of advice in Abuja yesterday.
Ameh also advised the new governors to work with the federal government to improve power supply, create jobs and attract more investors into the country.
He said: “Government should concentrate on power generation because if you solve power problem, you would have solved over 60 per cent of the Nigeria’s problems.
“There are still people who run computer centres and some have other Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) that have closed down because of epileptic power supply. The new government should look at how we can unbundle power supply by not totally relying on the national grid, so that states can generate power effectively. Local governments and industries can do that as well,,” he said.
Similarly, Sheik Muhammad Nuru, the chief imam of Apo Legislative Quarters’ Mosque, urged Buhari to pay more attention to insecurity in the country.
“I advise him to be more concerned with security issue. He should not be deceived by the so-called reports that he is receiving. He should take adequate action,’’ Nuru said.
The District Head of Garki-Hausa, Alhaji Umar Abubakar, advised all elected officials to remember that one day they would give account of their stewardship.
“God has chosen you and the people from the grassroots have voted you into power, remember that one day you will give account before your creator. Try and have it at the bottom of your heart that you were elected to serve the country, not to serve yourself or for your country to serve you,’’ Abubakar said.
President Off To Mecca For OIC Summit
Meanwhile, President Buhari will today leave Abuja for a summit organised by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
In a statement issued by his media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, he said that the 14th session of the summit scheduled to hold tomorrow would be hosted by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and would be attended by heads of state and governments of member states.
According to the OIC Secretariat, the summit to be convened under the theme: “Makkah al-Mukarramah Summit: Hand-in-hand toward the Future,” seeks to develop a unified stance on events in the Islamic world.
President Buhari is expected to address the forum and underscore the need for member countries to unite and work together to combat common challenges such as terrorism and violent extremism.
The President will also push forward themes that have been at the forefront of his domestic and international priorities, including reviving the Lake Chad Basin, investing in Nigeria to create jobs and financing for development.
On the margins of the summit, the Nigerian leader will hold bilateral meetings with world leaders to promote increased cooperation and collaboration on issues of mutual concern.
President Buhari, who is expected to return to the country on June 2, will be accompanied on the trip by governors Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State.
Also on the delegation are the permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustapha Suleiman, the director-general, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar; the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Isa Ali Pantami; and the chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abdullahi Mukthar.
President Buhari becomes the third Nigerian leader to attend the OIC summit in person, after the late Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigeria joined the OIC in 1986 and has held various positions in the organisation, including Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) commissioner, Ambassador M.L. Sulaiman, who was elected in 2017.
South East Govs Congratulate President, Optimistic Of Better Days
In a congratulatory message to the president, the South East Governors’ Forum expressed optimism in Buhari’s determination to make Nigerians happier in his second term in office.
All the South East governors except Willie Obiano of Anambra State are from the opposition PDP.
Members of the forum chaired by governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, said: “We, governors of South East Nigeria, heartily congratulate the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, on this historic occasion of his inauguration for a second term in office.
“We are confident, Mr. President, that with your swearing in for another term, happier days are ahead not just for the South East but the whole of Nigeria.
Appoint Competent Nigerians As Ministers, Ribadu Advises PMB
Meanwhile, the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has advised Buhari to appoint “extremely qualified” individuals to assist in his new administration.
Although he described the president’s first tenure as a solid foundation for Nigeria’s greatness, Ribadu urged Buhari be focused and engage competent people to drive his policies.
“The president should just stay focused, and get extremely qualified people to help him implement his policies, it’s so far so good,” he said.
Ribadu also said that with the leadership of Buhari, Nigeria is fighting corruption in a way that cannot be compared to any other country of the world.
The former EFCC boss who observed that the low-keyed swearing-in ceremony fits perfectly with the mood of the country, said the President performed creditably well in office.
“It has been a very wonderful day and a wonderful event, it came very well. You know the mood of the country, this one really fits in perfectly, it is pure oath of office ceremony and traditional military activity which is always necessary when changing from one government to a new government. I could see clearly that people are very excited and happy,” he said.
Nigeria Will Be Greatest In Africa – Sen Adeyeye
To the Senate chief whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, Buhari’s second term in office will make Nigeria the greatest nation in Africa and to reclaim its rightful place in the global community.
He said: “God in his mercy will give the president the best of health, and by the grace of God, he will lead this nation to become the greatest in Africa we will take again our rightful place in the world.”
Adeyeye who could not hide his joy at the inauguration ceremony urged the president to seek a closer collaboration with the 9th National Assembly.
PDP Feasts On PMB’s Silence On National Issues At Inauguration
However, the PDP has said that Buhari’s failure to address Nigerians at his inauguration showed that the president and his APC are overburdened by the “guilt of the rigged presidential election”.
The party, in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, said that it further indicated that the president’s “insensitivity and the level of derision with which his handlers and APC hold Nigerians, perhaps, given that the presidential mandate they parade did not emanate from the people.”
The statement which was signed by the PDP national publicity secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the failure by Buhari and the APC to make any commitment at the ceremony reinforced the truism that a product of flawed electoral process cannot serve the people or meet their aspirations under a constitutional democracy.
“The poor attendance and passivity of the audience at the ceremony at a time that Nigerians were trooping, in their millions, to the inauguration of state governors elected on the platform of the PDP manifestly show.
“It is indeed pathetic that at a ceremony such as a presidential inauguration, where truly elected leaders address their people, make commitments and unfold their governance direction, President Buhari did not showcase his plans or commitment to the development of critical sectors of our polity.
“It also speaks volumes that President Buhari has nothing to say to the victims of mindless killings and acts of violence in various parts of our country,” the PDP lamented.
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