By Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€”THE Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu, yesterday, swore in the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as the nationâ€™s substantive President, following the death of ailing President, Alhaji Umar Musa Yarâ€™Adua.
Jonathan had performed the functions of the President in acting capacity since 9 February, 2010 when the National Assembly, through a resolution, invoked the doctrine of necessity to empower him to serve as acting president.
President Jonathan who was sworn in at the Council Chambers in Aso Rock at 9:20 a.m., yesterday, became the nationâ€™s first President from the South-South geo-political zone.
Jonathanâ€™s emergence is in line with Chapter 6, Section 146, Subsection 1 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states: â€œThe Vice-President shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with section 143 of this Constitution.â€
Jonathan, clad in back attire, in company of his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, walked into the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, at about 9:09 a.m, where a capacity audience comprising members of the National Assembly, ministers, diplomats and other friends were already seated.
His arrival was announced by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Alhaji Ahmed Mahmud Yayale. He, thereafter, briefed the assembly on why Jonathan had to be sworn-in as President to avoid a vacuum.
Though he wore a mournful look, Nigeriaâ€™s new President was ushered in by the Chief Justice of the Federation, Aloysius Katsina-Alu, who conducted the oath takingÂ which began exactly 9:17a.m. Moments after, he was to be decorated with the presidential insignia by the Chief Justice of the Federation.
Yarâ€™Adua left a vacuum
In his speech after the swearing-in, President Jonathan said he was shocked by the news of the death of his boss and friend, with whom they were elected in 2007 to govern the country.
Noting that Yarâ€™Adua had left a vacuum with his integrity, commitment to due process and the rule of law, and his deep sense of patriotism to the nation, Jonathan said he would miss him the most.
He said: â€œMy dear brothers and sisters, it is with deep sense of loss and profound sorrow that I received the news of the passing on of His Excellency, President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™ Adua, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Our President passed on peacefully in the Presidential Villa in Abuja, yesterday evening, 5 May, 2010. While we submit to the will of God as a people of faith, this sad event has placed our nation in deep mourning.â€
President Jonathan condoled with the former First Lady, Hajiya Turai and the entire Yarâ€™Adua family, saying, â€œOn behalf of the good people of our great country, Nigeria, I stand by our First Lady, Her Excellency, Hajiya Turai Yarâ€™Adua, the children, our mother, Hajiya Habiba Musa Yarâ€™Adua, and the entire Yarâ€™Adua family. I offer our heartfelt condolences on the demise of our amiable leader.
â€œPresident Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s contribution to political development and good governance would never be forgotten. He will, therefore, always occupy a pride of place in the political history of our dear nation.â€
Jonathan said that Yarâ€™Adua was a man of great personal integrity, deep devotion to God and outstanding humility, adding: â€œIn all his public service, he displayed uncommon commitment to the peace, progress and unity of our country.
â€œHe has left for us a profound legacy that provides a firm foundation for Nigeriaâ€™s future. His exit has, therefore, created a huge vacuum in his personal contributions to the political growth and development of our nation. I have lost not just a boss but a good friend and brother.â€
He added: â€œHaving taken the oath of office in line with the Nigerian Constitution, under these very sad and unusual circumstances, I urge all fellow citizens to remain steadfast and committed to the values and aspirations of our nation. While this is a major burden on me and indeed the entire nation, we must, in the midst of such great adversity continue to garner our collective efforts towards upholding the values which our departed leader represented.â€
President Jonathan restated his commitment to good governance, electoral reform and the fight against corruption, which he promised to pursue with greater vigour.
He noted: â€œAs I had stated time and again, we must enshrine the best standards in our democratic practice. One of the true tests would be to ensure that all votes count and are counted in the upcoming General Elections.
Pledges on Niger Delta and development
“Similarly the effort at ensuring the sustenance of peace and development in the Niger Delta as well as the security of life and property around the entire country would be of topmost priority in the remaining period of this administration.â€
Jonathan added â€œthat the pledges which we had made to improve the socio-economic situation which we face through improved access to electricity, water, education, health facilities and other social amenities would continue to be given the needed emphasis,â€ adding that â€œthe welfare of our teeming workers and the unemployed youths would also be accorded a new impetus.” He called on all Nigerians to pray for the repose of the soul of Yarâ€™Adua and for God to grant him eternal peace.
Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s body moved out of Aso Rock
President Yarâ€™Adua died, Wednesday night, and his body was moved from the State House at about 11.00 a.m., yesterday for burial in Katsina.
The body was conveyed in a Ford ambulance vehicle with number plate SH 572 to the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s body was accompanied to the airport by his widow, Hajiya Turai, wife of President Jonathan, Dame Patience, other family members and sympathizers.
The late President Yarâ€™Adua, had endured protracted illness which took him to Saudi Arabia last November. He was brought back to the country on 23 February and had remained incommunicado at the Villa until his death.