News / Africa

Goodluck Jonathan Inaugurated as Nigerian President

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C), accompanied by his running mate Arc Namadi Sambo (Behind), is congratulated by Cabinet members after being declared winner of the presidential election, in Abuja (File Photo - April 18, 2011)
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C), accompanied by his running mate Arc Namadi Sambo (Behind), is congratulated by Cabinet members after being declared winner of the presidential election, in Abuja (File Photo - April 18, 2011)

Goodluck Jonathan has been sworn in as Nigeria's 14th head of state. Speaking before dignitaries from other African countries and thousands of invited guests, he promised to fight corruption and defend democracy across Africa.

Nigerian soldiers raised the nation's green-and-white flag above Abuja's Eagle Square as air force jets zoomed by in a flyover in honor of President Jonathan's inauguration.

Thousands of invited guests watched the ceremony including the leaders of Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Uganda, Liberia, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

School children waving handkerchiefs danced in the square as part of celebrations marking the third civilian presidency since Nigeria's end of military rule in 1999.

Jonathan came to power last year in the political crisis that followed the prolonged illness and eventual death of the late leader Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Jonathan won his own four-year mandate in elections last month, and took the oath of office Sunday from Nigerian Chief Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.

“I, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, do solemnly swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that I will preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, so help me God.”

In his inaugural address, President Jonathan said he represents the shared aspirations of all Nigerians.

“In the days ahead, those of us who you have elected to serve must show that we are men and women with patriotism and passion to match the hopes and aspirations of you, the great people of this country. We must demonstrate the leadership, statesmanship, vision, capacity, and sacrifice to transform our nation.”

President Jonathan said that transformation will include reforming the nation's oil sector and strengthening the amnesty program for former militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

“Over the next four years attention will be focused on rebuilding our infrastructure. We will create greater access to quality education and improve health care delivery. We will pay special attention to the agricultural sector to enable it to play its role of ensuring food security and massive job creation for our teeming population.”

The president says his administration will fight corruption and the spread of small arms in Africa which undermines elected government.

“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 underdevelopment.”

Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari is challenging President Jonathan's election in court, saying the vote was rigged through electoral commission computers that deflated his share of the vote in northern states and inflated Jonathan's share of the vote in southern states.

The New-York based group Human Rights Watch says at least 800 people were killed in electoral violence between predominantly-Muslim Buhari supporters and mostly-Christian Jonathan supporters.

Buhari's party wants Nigeria's electoral tribunal to force the electoral commission to hand over materials that it says will allow the party to prove scientifically that the vote was stolen.

Most international and domestic observers believe the presidential, gubernatorial, and legislative elections were some of Nigeria's fairest ever.

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