Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is sworn in for a four year term as leader of Africa's most populous oil-rich state. Over 30 international delegations attended the event., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Jonathan brings the world to Nigeria
Monday, 30 May 2011 00:00 From Laolu Akande (New York) and Oghogho Obayuwana (Abuja)
NIGERIA yesterday got more attention from the international community as close to 30 world leaders and representatives of global and regional bodies witnessed the inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
An elated Jonathan told his guests that he had chosen the path of peace and rededicated Nigeria to the cause of global peace and development.
United States (U.S.) President Barack Obama was represented at the event by the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Ambassador Johnnie Carson.
A White House statement at the weekend said “President Barack Obama announced the designation of a presidential delegation to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to attend the inauguration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on May 29, 2011.”
The face of one of Africa’s longest serving Presidents, octogenarian Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, was very visible among the colony of the visiting world leaders. There was also President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who was recently sworn in for another five-year-term after spending 25 years in office. Jonathan was present at his swearing-in.
Other leaders present at the occasion included Presidents Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson (Liberia), Atta Mills (Ghana), Yayi Boni (Benin Republic), Faure Gnassigbe (Togo), Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal), Jacob Zuma (South Africa), Mgbaso Ngueso (Equatorial Guinea), Joseph Kabila (Democratic Republic of Congo) and President Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe.
There were also Presidents Amadou Toumani Toure (Mali), Idriss Deby (Chad), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo Brazaville), Bacai Sanha (Guinea Bissau), Alpha Conde (Guinea-Conakry), Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba (Gabon), Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger Republic), Allassane Ouattara (Cote d’Ivoire), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Ernest Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone), Prof. Emeritus George Maxwell (Trinidad and Tobago), Blaise Compaore (Burkina Faso), Francois Bozize (Central African Republic), Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz (Mauritania), Hifikepunye Pohamba (Namibia) and Rupiah Banda (Zambia).
After a colourful military parade, calisthenics display, some cultural performance and the swearing in proper, Jonathan said in a sombre mood among others: “This is a new dawn for Africa. Nigeria will continue to play an active role in the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and in the Gulf of Guinea. We fought for the de-colonisation of Africa. We are now fighting for democracy.”
The commitment by President Jonathan of Nigeria to global peace may have to do with the renewed confidence secured during the recent visit of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The U.S. delegation included Terence McCulley, the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria.
The designation of a presidential delegation by Obama, according to American sources, is an indication of the personal approval, friendship and support for a new president, each time the White House makes such a decision, in this case, President Jonathan.
In the 2007 inauguration of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the White House did not designate a presidential delegation even though the U.S. government representatives were present ostensibly because of the alleged rigging of the polls.
Obama’s action is already raising expectations in diplomatic circles in Washington DC on the possibility of a presidential visit either way between Presidents Obama and Jonathan, both of whom have met personally last year in Washington DC at the invitation of the U.S. leader, who hosted a select number of world leaders to a Nuclear Security Summit.
Another personal interaction between Obama and Jonathan was meant to be late last week in France at the G-8 meeting, to which the White House had announced Jonathan had been invited among the group of African leaders for the summit. But due to the poor weather conditions, the Nigerian leader had to cancel the trip.
Author of this article: From Laolu Akande (New York) and Oghogho Obayuwana (Abuja)
I’ll not let you down, says Jonathan
On May 30, 2011
By DANIEL IDONOR
ABUJA— WITH more than 40 world leaders and five former Nigerian presidents and heads of state to witness his inauguration for a four year term as Nigerian president, Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, yesterday, sealed a pact with Nigerians promising to turn their dreams into reality while declaring that the years of locust and cankerworm are over.
In his inaugural speech, President Jonathan cut the picture of a combatant on the battle front who is ready to fight to lift the standard of living of every Nigerian.
He said: “I will continue to fight, for your future, because I am one of you. I will continue to fight, for improved medical care for all our citizens. I will continue to fight for all citizens to have access to first class education. I will continue to fight for electricity to be available to all our citizens. I will continue to fight for an efficient and affordable public transport system for all our people.
President Goodluck Jonathan at his inauguration as Nigeria's fourth President at the Eagle Square, Abuja., yesterday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.
I will continue to fight for jobs to be created through productive partnerships. You have trusted me with your mandate, and I will never, never let you down.
“I know your pain, because I have been there. Look beyond the hardship you have endured. See a new beginning; a new direction; a new spirit. Nigerians, I want you to start to dream again. What you see in your dreams, we can achieve together.”
Nigerian former presidents and heads of state who were in attendance at the swearing in of President Jonathan included General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Ernest Shonekan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar as well as former Vice President Alex Ekuweme.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu administered the oath of office on him and Vice President, Namadi Sambo, at exactly 12.50 p.m.
President Jonathan in his speech rolled out a four-year development plan for Nigeria with special focus and attention on five keys areas of the economy including the real sector, infrastructure, education, agriculture and the Niger-Delta; and declared that “the time for lamentation is over now is the time for transformation.”
Growing the economy
He urged Nigerians including his rivals in the last presidential election to join him in his sincere determination to grow the Nigerian economy and place the country in its rightful position in the comity of nations; saying that “join me now as I begin the journey for our transformation.”
President Jonathan in his speech also sent a message to the rest of Africa, especially those yet to embrace true or people oriented democracy to do so immediately; saying that “we (Nigeria) fought for decolonization of Africa but now we will fight for democratization.
I am confident that we have every reason to look to the future with hope. We owe ourselves and posterity the duty of making this country respectable in the comity of nations.
Nigeria, as a responsible member of the international community, will remain committed to the maintenance of global peace and security. We will continue to play an active role in the United Nations. Our role in the African Union, ECOWAS, and the Gulf of Guinea will be enhanced to ensure greater human and energy security.
This is a new dawn for Africa. We fought for decolonization. We will now fight for democratization. Nigeria, in partnership with the African Union, will lead the process for democracy and development in Africa. In particular, we will support the consolidation of democracy, good governance and human rights in the continent. Africa must develop its vast resources to tackle poverty and under-development.”
The colourful ceremony spiced with military parades, calisthenics by 1,050 students from both primary and secondary school, aerial displays by the Nigerian Airforce, and the traditional 21-gun salute, was witnessed by no less than 40 foreign heads of state and their spouses as well eight representatives of foreign leaders including prime ministers and vice presidents, and members of the diplomatic corps.
President Jonathan who was cheered intermittently as he read his speech stated that in the days ahead, his new government will demonstrate uncommon zeal towards the transformation of the common man, adding that the urgent and supreme task of this generation and administration is to provide equal opportunity for all Nigerians to thrive in a free society.
Rebuilding of infrastructure
He said: “Over the next four years, attention will be focused on rebuilding our infrastructure.
We will create greater access to quality education and improved health care delivery. We will pay special attention to the agricultural sector, to enable it play its role of ensuring food security and massive job creation for our people.
The creation of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority will immensely contribute to strengthening our fiscal framework, by institutionalizing savings of our commodity-related revenues. With this mechanism in place, we will avoid the boom and bust cycles, and mitigate our exposure to oil price volatility.
The lesson we have learnt is that the resolution of the Niger Delta issue is crucial for the health of the nation’s economy. In the interest of justice, equity and national unity, we shall actively promote the development of the region. I believe that peace is a necessary condition for development”.
He disclosed that besides the real sector which will be given national developmental priority, in the next four years, infrastructure including power, energy; and air, road and railway transportations will also be prioritized with a view to reducing the suffering of our people, adding: “In every decision, I shall always place the common good before all else.
The bane of corruption shall be met by the overwhelming force of our collective determination, to rid our nation of this scourge.
The fight against corruption is a war in which we must all enlist, so that the limited resources of this nation will be used for the growth of our commonwealth.” Jonathan declared that with the mandate given to him by the electorate during the last presidential poll he will not let the people down, saying that “with the mandate freely given to me, I want to assure that I will not disappoint our dear people.
The leadership we have pledged is decidedly transformative. The transformation will be achieved in all the critical sectors, by harnessing the creative energies of our people. We must grow the economy, create jobs, and generate enduring happiness for our people.
I have great confidence in the ability of Nigerians to transform this country. The urgent task of my administration is to provide a suitable environment, for productive activities to flourish. I, therefore, call on the good people of Nigeria, to enlist as agents of this great transformation”.
The presidents who graced the occasion include the presidents of Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sao-Tome and Principe, Liberia, Senegal and South Africa. Others were the Presidents of the Republic of Niger, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, Cote de’ Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo -Brazzaville, Congo Democratic, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea -Bissau, Gabon, Guinea -Conakry, Mauritania, Namibia, Rwanda, Saharawi Republic, Mali, Togo, Ghana, Gambia, Zambia, Benin and Chad.
The roll call also includes the vice Presidents of the Federal Republic of Korea, Burundi, Gambia, Kenya and Tanzania and former Zambian President, Kenneth Kaunda. Also present to grace the occasion was the Prime Ministers of Swaziland and Ethiopia. The Mayor of Dallas in the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Georgia were also present; while former Nigerian presidents and heads of state, present included General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Ernest Shonekan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar as well as former Vice President Alex Ekuweme.
President Mugabe in Abuja
Sunday, 29 May 2011 01:48
By Sydney Kawadza
in ABUJA, Nigeria
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
PRESIDENT Mugabe arrived here yesterday to attend the inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan set for the country’s capital city, Abuja, today.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, and senior Government officials.
He was seen off at the Harare International Airport by Vice-President John Nkomo, the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, and service chiefs.
President Mugabe is expected to join up to 20 other leaders in witnessing President Jonathan take his oath of office to lead Africa’s most populous nation.
The inauguration coincides with Nigeria’s Democracy Day commemorations. Also invited to attend the inauguration are the 20 other presidential election candidates from the April 16 poll.
The chairman of the inauguration ceremonies committee and secretary to the government of the (Nigerian) federation, Mr Yayale Ahmed, told the media that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was expecting 15 to 20 heads of state for the inauguration ceremony.
“We have invited all the 69 political parties or thereabouts; these also include those that contested the presidential election with President Goodluck Jonathan.
“They are all free to join us in the celebrations, especially as the day also marks the Democracy Day in Nigeria,” he said.
However, there are major concerns in Abuja after bomb explosions marred the nation’s 50th independence anniversary celebrations on October 1 last year.
“Security arrangements have been adequately taken care of as we are not unmindful of the occurrences during the 50th independence anniversary. Of course, things about security are mostly unpredictable but as
the inauguration is coming up all the security agencies have been put on alert.
“As the chairman of the inauguration committee, I would say I am satisfied with the security arrangement for the event. But there are certain things I cannot disclose about the security arrangement here,” said Mr Ahmed.
Nigeria’s presidential elections, which were expected to be held on April 9, were postponed to April 16.
President Jonathan assumed the interim presidency following the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua last year. President Jonathan was declared winner in the election on April 19 after garnering a massive 22 million votes ahead of former army general and military ruler General Muhammad Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
The presidential poll was initially expected to be held in January but was postponed to April after the election commission requested more time to overhaul the national electoral register.
The commission said it also needed to release new electronic voter registration software.
Despite some isolated bombings, the election was reported to have run smoothly with relatively little violence or voter fraud in contrast to previous elections.- The Sunday Mail