Friday, 29 May 2015

#Nigeria’s Buhari Sworn In as President in Historic Transfer of Power

His election victory marked the first time in Nigeria's history that a sitting president has been defeated at the polls. 

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 in a ceremony that marked a historic transfer of power on the continent.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and scores of African presidents, and diplomats from across the world watched as Mr. 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 on a continent still climbing up from decades of military dictatorship.

Clad in a white, three-piece robe, Mr. Buhari, who himself ruled Nigeria as military dictator 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,” Mr. Buhari said, wearing sunglasses and a purple hat. “So help me God.”

Months ago, the prospect of a peaceful transition of power like Friday’s seemed dim to the many Nigerians who returned to their hometowns and villages to wait the election out. When Mssrs. Buhari and Jonathan first faced off at the ballot box, in 2011, Mr. Jonathan’s win sparked days of religious riots that left more than 800 people dead. Some expected a repeat: Weeks before the vote, Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo predicted this country, Africa’s largest economy, would slide into a postelection civil conflict like the one that consumed Ivory Coast in 2011.

Instead, Mr. Jonathan conceded swiftly, even before the results had been formally announced. On Friday, the two candidates, both beaming, stood shoulder-to-shoulder to massive applause, as some of Africa’s longest-serving autocrats–among them, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe–looked on.

“It’s a new dawn in the history of Nigeria,” an MC for the ceremony said, over the whooping crowd.

Drew Hinshaw at

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