May 29, the day set for former president Goodluck Jonathan to hand over power to new president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has come and gone. With the country in the midst of a fuel shortage, many see Buhari’s reign as the new hope the country has been waiting for.
He is said to be the new hope for the Nigerian youth, who desire a new, peaceful and progressive country, free of corruption.
Arriving in the country after a six-day tour of the U.K., right before inauguration day, Buhari met with Jonathan to submit the handover notes. Many around the world saw this as a sign of great respect for each other.
As promised, Jonathan kept his word and attended the inauguration ceremony. By all accounts this was not just a historic event, but a monumental one as well. Dignitaries from all over the globe were also in attendance, such as the presidents of Chad, Guinea, Mali and Zimbabwe.
In a speech closely followed around the world, Buhari stated, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”
According to the Nigerian Sun New Online, in those nine words he shattered the hopes of any corruption in his administration. He let the nation know he is there for them and that no external influences would affect his governing.
Buhari is the first president of Nigeria to have been elected as an opposition candidate since 1960. With the country facing hardships including high unemployment, Boko Haram and fuel scarcity, he is in for a difficult journey.
“A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue,” Buhari said in his inauguration speech.
In the speech, he addressed many of the fears that the world had about his past actions and what the world would see through this new election. That past, which became the topic of discussion during the recent election, was again addressed by many news organizations.
Buhari’s military background became headline news around the world. As a former dictator who came to power in 1983, he ruled with a heavy hand. Addressed in the election coverage, there were concerns that he could go back to his dictatorial ways and returning the nation into a greater mess than it is today.
The Nigerian leader said one of his first actions as president would be to deal with the homegrown issues that seem to be the worry for most Nigerians, before moving onto international issues. He reminded Nigerians to once again have hope that their problems can be fixed. He vowed to stand on the shoulders of Nigeria’s visionary founding fathers such as Herbert Macaulay and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, returning the country to its past glory.
He promised to clean out the system and enforce greater rules in the Federal government, for them to abide by the constitution and be forceful in getting Nigeria to be great.
“As far as the constitution allows me, I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch,” he said.
“There needs to be accountability for these elected governors and state representatives, who have been entrusted with the lives of millions. The citizens of Nigeria desire true-hearted men and women, not greedy vultures who will seek their own needs.”
Buhari reminded everyone that no matter how organized the government is, it’s up to the citizens to help. He said their support and cooperation is very much needed, “as a nation is built by the hands of its citizens and not just the political leaders.”
Now, many are wondering what Nigeria will become in the next few weeks, months, and years under this new administration. Some are imagining the relief Jonathan feels as he leaves everything in the hands of Buhari. How does the outgoing president feel leaving the country in shambles? Is there a sense of relief or embarrassment as he hands over power to Buhari?
At 72, Buhari’s age is a question on many minds. Will he be able to endure the travels and pressures that come with his new role? Yet with his past experience, 25 years in the military, some say they are confident he can take the fight to Boko Haram.
Simon Allison of the Guardian, states that, “A part of me wishes the old Buhari would re-emerge – just for a couple of weeks.” There is also concern that the Buhari administration could crumble when push comes to shove. Is is possible that he too could fail to bring Nigeria back to its feet.
At the recent 25th assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union in Johannesburg, South Africa, he said, “I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do.”
From the look of things, Buhari seems to be casting an impression that he is ready to fight for Nigeria. Is he the capable leader that he says he is or wants to be? The answer to this question remains to be seen.
Our news analysis now on the Africa News Matters website