Many world leaders are in the country to witness Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s inauguration as the fifth President of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic and the 16th leader since independence.
Tinubu, a former governor of Nigeria’s economic capital, Lagos State, won the February 25 presidential election, defeating 17 other candidates.
He ran on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party that has ruled the country since 2015 led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu reassured Nigerians and world leaders that he would deliver on his promises.
He spoke last night at the inauguration Dinner/Gala Night organised by the Presidential Transition Council (PTC) at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
The President-elect said: “To the many Heads of State present here, our brothers and sisters celebrating with us, I thank you.
“What lessons has Nigeria’s democracy taught the rest of Africa if not the whole world? Resilience, determination, courage, and love in diversity, though our tongues and tribes differ.
“By tomorrow (today’s) afternoon, my predecessor is heading to Daura, on the border with Niger, but I have told him not to worry, he will still get a knock on his door.
“No matter how short a man is, he will see the sky. I will still be able to find him when I need his help.
“Here is a country that has stumbled many times, but has never faltered. We can be squeaky like old mama’s car, but we will never break apart. We are just a unique country.
“We must fight corruption, poverty, inconsistencies in policies and many other problems confronting us.
“But don’t pity me. I asked for the job. I campaigned for it. No excuses. I will live up to the billing to deliver. I promise you.”
Buhari thanked the dignitaries, saying the electoral process has given power back to the Nigerians.
“I congratulate fellow Nigerians who have realised that their votes count.
“I’m looking forward to flying to my base and going back to my cows and sheep, which are much easier to control than fellow Nigerians.”
Some of the world leaders seen at the colourful event included the Presidents of South Africa, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Burundi, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, the Central Africa Republic, Gabon, the Prime Minister of Morocco, the Vice President of Venezuela and many more.
Presidents and heads of governments who have arrived are Mahamat Idriss Déby (Republic of Chad), Samia Suluhu Hassan (Tanzania), Abdelmadjid Tebboune (Algeria), Nana Akufo Addo (Ghana), Macky Sall (Senegal), Julius Maada Bio (Sierra-Leone), Adama Barrow (Gambia), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo Brazzaville), Mohamed Bazoum (Niger), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Joseph Ngute (Cameroon Prime Minister).
The France delegation is led by Minister Delegate for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou.
The Japanese delegation is led by Special Envoy to Prime Minister of Japan, Tanaka Kazunori.
India’s Defence Minister Mr Rajinath, will lead the country’s delegation to the inauguration.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said: “The visit of Mr Rajnath Singh reflects the growing bilateral relations between India and Nigeria and signifies India’s commitment to strengthening ties with Nigeria.”
Cote d’Ivoire’s Foreign Affairs Minister will represent the Prime Minister, Patrick Jerome Achi.
United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden will be represented by a nine-member delegation led Marcia Fudge, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
President Muhammadu Buhari will step down after eight years, giving way to a new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
The main event of today will be the administration of the oath of office and allegiance on Tinubu and Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima by Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola.
There will also be a colourful military parade by officers and men of the Army, Air Force and the Navy.
The new president will take the salute after becoming the Commander-in-Chief.
No fewer than 5,000 dignitaries will witness the ceremony at Eagle Square, which has hosted the swearing-in of presidents since the outset of the Fourth Republic in 1999.
Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007), Umaru Musa Yar’Adu (2007 -2010), Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (2010 -2015) and Muhammadu Buhari (2015 -2019) took the oath of office at the same venue.
It will also be a new dawn in 18 states which will have new governors from today.
In 10 other states, governors will take the oath of office for their second terms.
Ahead of today’s inauguration, President Buhari handed the transition documents and a baton of service to Tinubu on Thursday.
He also conferred on him the highest national award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and Shettima, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Yesterday morning, there was an interdenominational service at the National Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, attended by outgoing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon and Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the incoming president, who represented her husband.
Also at the church service were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, Senator-elect Godswill Akpabio, and leaders of various Christian blocks in the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Head of Transport and Logistics Sub-Committee of the Presidential Transition Council (PTC), Mrs Hadiza Kabir, said 395 vehicles were deployed for the inauguration.
“We have vehicles at the airport and other strategic locations for ease of movement for our guests.
“We have 395 vehicles including SUVs, buses and Sedans. We also have some vehicles from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will convey dignitaries,” she said.
Senator Tinubu: Nigeria’s wealth belongs to all
Senator Tinubu assured Nigerians that the incoming administration would ensure equitable distribution of the commonwealth.
The former Lagos State First Lady, who stood in for the President-elect at the interdenominational service, promised that her husband would make a difference.
“God has blessed my family. We don’t need the wealth of Nigeria to survive but to do the right thing. And I promise you on this altar, that with your help, with the help of God, who will set this nation on the right path.
“God has been merciful to us. I can tell you on my own that we never believed this could happen. But thank God for giving us hope, for giving us the resilience to continue in the race of life.
“Asiwaju is 71 and I will be 63. I bet I will be one of the oldest First Ladies Nigeria would have. We need the grace of God and we need everyone to do what Nigerians are expecting.
“Today, God has proved himself as he did on the night of the primaries and put his seal on it. Because, when I saw the votes count to be 1,271, I said God it means you are here.
“I was humbled to my rock bottom. And to believe that this is the seventh consecutive democratic transition Nigeria will be experiencing shows that this is a time of perfection for Nigeria; perfection in the sense that, in the word of God, I remember for over two years we have been praying in our churches, according to Isaiah 43:18-19, that we should not remember the former things, that God is going to do a new thing.
“A new thing came and we still kept arguing with God. Who can argue with his maker? No one.”
She stressed the need for unity to enable the incoming administration to deliver on the promises.
She also appealed to Nigerians to pray for the new government to create the much-desired impact.
“We need your prayers. We need the prayers of the church. We need the prayers of the mosque.
“We need everybody to pray to that one God who we just read in Ephesians that he is one God of all. He is a God of all flesh. He is sovereign and He sits in heaven and He does as He pleases.”
Osinbajo urged the people, regardless of party affiliation, to continue to pray and work for peace and prosperity.
He also prayed for the incoming administration to grow in stature, wisdom and favour.
“I pray for the President-elect Senator Bola Tinubu and the Vice President-elect Senator Kashim Shetima and the new government that as their days in office so shall they grow in stature, in wisdom and favour with the almighty God.
“I pray for our nation, I pray that the Lord will prosper this land, that our land and its people will live in peace and security.”
Deputy President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Archbishop John Praise Daniel, urged Tinubu’s rivals to join hands with him for the good of the country.
He also set an agenda for the new President, saying: “I enjoin our incoming president to reinvigorate the war against corruption in all segments of our national life, to accomplish the much-desired security, peace and unity which constitute the enabling factors for Nigerians to realize their full potentials for meaningful development of the country.
“Indeed, our quest to develop and explore the vast potentials of agriculture as the mainstay of the economy with enormous multiplier effect along the value chain can only be realized in a secure atmosphere devoid of banditry, terrorism and civil unrest…
“It is time to awaken the sleeping giant in us with deliberate efforts made to enthrone accountability, transparency, justice and the rule of law, which essentially constitute a veritable panacea for peaceful co-existence and sustainable growth and development which we all yearn for.
“To those who might have had other political and electoral preferences, which is not unusual and unexpected, may I remind them that election has come and gone and a winner is set to be sworn in.
“I, therefore, enjoin every citizen of our great country to put issues relating to elections behind us and come together to support the incoming government to deliver the dividends of democracy, bearing in mind that this country belongs to all of us.
“Let us remember that a house divided against itself cannot stand, but together, we can make a remarkable impact and leave our imprints in the sand of the history of mankind.”
‘Nigerians expect a lot from Tinubu’
The Senate said much was expected of Tinubu while congratulating him and Shettima on their oath-taking.
The ninth Senate hailed Nigerians who participated in the elections.
Senate spokesman, Ajibola Basiru, said in a statement: “While the Senate rejoices with your Excellency, we are not oblivious of the arduous task of state before your incoming administration.
“We pray it will be your Excellency that God will use to move this nation to where it should be among the comity of nations and take the nation to greater heights in all spheres.
“Nigerians will hold your Excellency responsible for your promises of food security, power generation and supply, massive job creation and youth employment, among the myriads of needs confronting our nation.
“Nigerians will not be bothered about ethnicity, religiosity or any other sentimental colouration, of any kind if they see genuine hope of transformation.
“Nigerians are hungry and crying, as never before for hope, and we pray, they may see hope in your slogan: Renewed hope.”
Labour Party (LP) candidate in the presidential poll, Peter Obi, speaking on the sidelines of an event in Kaduna, said the unity, peace and security of the country were paramount.
“We must continue to live on the path of peace, religious harmony, ethnic harmony and coexistence. That is the most important thing for now.
“Let’s have a peaceful, quiet Nigeria where the government will concentrate on caring for the sufferings of the people,” Obi said.