Nduduzo Tshuma in ABUJA, Nigeria
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday led African leaders in witnessing the swearing in of new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the Eagle Square here in a ceremony that coincided with the country’s National Democracy Day.
Buhari was sworn in together with his deputy Professor Yemi Onsibanjo.
The African Union and Sadc chairperson was joined by fellow African heads of state and government including South African President Jacob Zuma, Swaziland monarch King Mswati, Rwandese President Paul Kagame, Equatorial Guinea leader Teodoro Obiang Ngema Mbasogo, Chad President Idriss Deby, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Namibia leader Hage Geignob, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, Congo Brazzaville President Dennis Sassou Nguesso, Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi among others.
The President’s vehicle was mobbed by journalists from various countries covering the event with each trying to get a picture of the liberation icon.
United States Secretary of State, John Kerry was among international guests who came to witness Buhari officially taking over the country’s reins from former leader Goodluck Jonathan.
Buhari, leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), beat Jonathan in the March 28 elections polling 15 416 221 votes against Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which garnered 12 853 162 votes.
He was on Thursday taken by Jonathan on a tour of the Aso Villa, the presidential residence to familiarise himself with the place.
At the ceremony, Jonathan warmly shook hands with Buhari before he was presented with the national and security flags with new ones hoisted to symbolise the coming in of a new government.
In his acceptance speech, Buhari paid tribute to Jonathan for displaying exemplary statesmanship for the support and cooperation he gave in the smooth transition saying such acts set a precedent for the country that Nigerians would be proud of.
The new Nigerian president allayed fears of retribution on past political opponents saying the past had been buried. He declared, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”
Buhari said Nigeria was ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of the West African country.
He paid tribute to Cameroon, Chad and Niger for committing their respective forces to fighting terrorist organisation Boko Haram. Buhari said his government would immediately tackle “head on” the fuel shortages presently rocking the country, corruption and terrorism.
He said to effectively fight the terrorist group which he described as “small fires causing big fires,” his government was immediately moving the anti-terrorist command and control centre from Abuja to Maiduguri.
The new President also pledged to work towards the development of the country’s education sector, power production and infrastructure.
President Mugabe will on Tuesday witness the swearing in of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir who retained the country’s presidency in recent national elections.
The President was invited to both countries in his capacity as AU chairperson.