By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA—THREE former heads of government were absent at yesterday’s swearing-in of President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in Abuja for a second term in office.
They include former President Olusegun Obasanjo; ex-Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
It was not immediately clear why the former leaders were absent at the ceremony attended by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; governors of Zamfara, Edo and Kogi states; National Chairman of All Progressives, Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole; leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio, among others.
Vanguard learned that former President Obasanjo was absent because he arrived, yesterday, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he attended African Union’s meeting on African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA.
It was also not clear why former President Jonathan was absent at the ceremony but his media aide, Mr Ikechukwu Eze, promised to inform Vanguard why his principal was absent but never did at press time.
Former Head of State, Abubakar, could not be reached last night for his reaction.
Oshiomhole breaches protocol
Meanwhile, a mild drama ensued as National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, breached protocol as he stood among service chiefs who were waiting for arrival of the president, but was asked to leave his position and move elsewhere.
However, Buhari and Osinbajo were sworn-in by acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Tanko Muhammad.
Though the government had said the inauguration would be low key to avoid duplication of functions and waste of resources, having declared June 12 as authentic Democracy Day, the venue was filled to capacity.
Water tight security
Masked men from the Strike Force Unit of Nigerian Army were sighted stationed on top of major buildings around the vicinity of Eagle Square.
Around the immediate surrounding, sniffer dogs and anti-bomb police trucks were stationed at strategic points to ensure the event went on without any security issues.
The water tight security may be in connection with the alarm raised by the Nigerian Army that some elements, including foreign collaborators, had planned to disrupt the ceremony.
Arrival of Buhari, Osinbajo
The president arrived the Eagle Square at exactly 10 am in company of his wife, Aisha, and proceeded straight to the saluting dias for the national anthem, kick-starting the ceremony proper, before retiring to his seat inside the VIP cubicle.
The vice president alongside his wife, Dolapo, and other senior government officials, including the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were already seated before the arrival of President Buhari.
Osinbajo, who arrived the venue at about 9:49am, also mounted the saluting dias for the national anthem.
The inauguration ceremony
A few minutes after 10:00 am, Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Tanko Mohammed, was invited to the saluting dias where he first administered the oath of office and allegiance on Osinbajo.
It was immediately followed with Buhari taking his turn to be administered the oath of office and allegiance by the CJN.
Buhari and Osinbajo, thereafter, signed the oath taking register in the presence of their spouses.
With the oath-taking ceremony over, Buhari, while mounting the saluting dias, monitored the lowering and hoisting of the national and defence flags by officers and men of the Nigerian Army, a process which signified the end of one administration and the beginning of a new one.
The event was followed immediately by 21 gun salute from the Guards Brigade troop, after which the president was driven in an open roof G-wagon Mercedes Benz van to inspect the parade mounted by 282 officers and men drawn from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, and the Nigeria Police Force.
President Buhari was accompanied in the van by his Aide de Camp, Brigade of Gaurd and the commander of the parade at the ceremony.
Major roads leading into Abuja were closed hours before inauguration.
Motorists and travellers intending to connect other parts of the country through Abuja, encountered difficulty from both the city gate, Kubwa road and Nyanya-Keffi entrant axis.
No country fights corruption like Nigeria — Ribadu
Speaking in an interview with journalists, former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, described the inauguration as a wonderful event.
He said: “It has been a wonderful event and it came extremely very well. This one fits in perfectly. We believe that in the last four years, solid foundation was laid for better things to happen.
“In the fight against corruption, there is no country that is fighting corruption like Nigeria. Look at the number of cases that are being prosecuted, look at the recoveries that are taking place in Nigeria, the noise we are making.
“When you look at the world, there is nowhere one quarter of these activities is taking place. And we hope it is going to continue because if we fail to address the problem of corruption, chances are that nothing is going to work.”