In his inaugural speech after being sworn in as Nigeria’s 15th Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces at the Eagle Square, Abuja May 29, President Muhammadu Buhari pretty much told everyone that he is his own man and will not be pushed around or told what to do by anyone. He said, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” a remark that drew a loud applause from the capacity-filled Square.
Early birds to arrive a few minutes past 8.00am at the inauguration venue included former heads of state Ibrahim Babangida and Yakubu Gowon. Others like Abdulsalami Abubakar, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Ernest Shonekan and Olusegun Obasanjo joined them about 9.00am. Many leaders of foreign nations attended the inauguration, especially African heads of state who confirmed their happiness over Nigeria’s example of a peaceful transition from a ruling party to its opposition.
After all military protocols, the oath of office was administered and by 10.50am Buhari was officially in charge of Federal Republic of Nigeria. His much awaited inaugural speech was a hopeful and firm resolve; a commitment to business unusual. He summed up the major challenges of the country and promised his government would raise Nigeria again from bended knees to uprightness and right-standing.
For Buhari there is no time for fanfare or playing to the gallery. He didn’t even wear anything new. He simply wore a babariga and cap that he believed would pass as work clothes. Same for his usual work shoes. It is no tea party; this is CHANGE unusual, Buhari seemed to say.
HAMILTONSTYLE serves below the brightest highlights of Buhari’s speech…
I would like to thank President Goodluck Jonathan for his display of statesmanship in setting a precedent for us that has now made our people proud to be Nigerians wherever they are… I hope this act of graciously accepting defeat by the outgoing President will become the standard of political conduct in the country.
I would like to thank the millions of our supporters who believed in us even when the cause seemed hopeless. I salute their resolve in waiting long hours in rain and hot sunshine to register and cast their votes… I thank our other countrymen and women who did not vote for us but contributed to make our democratic culture truly competitive, strong and definitive.
I thank all of you. Having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians. I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody. (Loud applause)
Our founding fathers worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house. (Loud applause).
The Federal Executive under my watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. For their part the legislative arm must keep to their brief of making laws, carrying out over-sight functions and doing so expeditiously. The country now expects the judiciary to act with dispatch on all cases especially on corruption, serious financial crimes or abuse of office.
Federal Government should (not) fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments. Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. As far as the constitution allows me I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch.
Boko Haram’s insurgency: Progress has been made in recent weeks by our security forces but victory can not be achieved by basing the Command and Control Centre in Abuja. The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued. But we can not claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents. (Loud applause) Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of.
It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000MW, and distributes even less. Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close on $20b expanded since 1999 have only brought darkness, frustration, misery, and resignation among Nigerians. We will not allow this to go on. Careful studies are under way during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.
I can not recall when Nigeria enjoyed so much goodwill abroad as now. The messages I received from East and West, from powerful and small countries are indicative of international expectations on us. At home the newly elected government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations. Nigeria therefore has a window of opportunity to fulfill our long – standing potential of pulling ourselves together and realizing our mission as a great nation.
We have an opportunity. Let us take it. Thank you. (Thunderous applause)
Since his ouster by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in 1985, Buhari has had to wait 30 years to be Head of State and C-in-C of the Armed Forces again, on his fourth attempt at the polls at intervals of four years. Unlike Jonathan, Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Abacha, Babangida and Shagari, he has demonstrated zero tolerance for corruption and crime, and an uncanny ability to restore Nigeria to the path of prosperity. He had only one year plus 239 days back then.
From 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985
This time around, Buhari has a first four years to restructure Nigeria and restore her to the path of progress and honest governance, and he seems ready to do even more. So help him God.