WELCOME TO NEW GENERATION AFRICA.
WE ARE PROUD TO BE DIFFERENT!
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same...(Nelson Mandela)
We must become the change we want to see...(Mahatma Gandhi)
President Goodluck Jonathan (left) being administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu (right) at the Eagle Square, Abuja ... on Sunday. Photo: Tunde Olaniyi.
Goodluck Jonathan was on Sunday inaugurated as the duely elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the incumbent or Mr. President as they say in States. He got praises from the international community and was accredited with what was the best election and most transperent in the sub-saharan African. New Generation Africa followed the Nigerian election with interest and was amongst the first new media to declare Goodluck Jonathan the winner of the 2011 election in Nigeria before the official INEC result was announced. He fought a modern election, dismissing more established old corrupt politicians who seems to believe that they have a God given right to govern or rule Nigeria (as military men and civilians). GEJ made an informed and intelligent decision from the begining of his campaign, he decided to take full advantage of the New media and the power of the internet to get his message accross and made himself the people's champion, giving them power and hope.
He promised not to let his country men and women down in the presence of over 20 dignitaries from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean who witnessed the event.
No President or Prime Minister came from Western Europe but hey who cares, Nigerians are very bouyant and hopeful for the future for the first time in many years.
Jonathan took the oath of office at 12.55 p.m. at the Eagle Square, Abuja to occupy Aso Rock in his own right for the next four years, following his first ever electoral victory on April 16.
Vice President Namadi Sambo took the oath at 12:47 p.m.
Both were administered by Chief Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu at a colourful ceremony spiced with military parades, callisthenics by school pupils, aerial displays by the Air Force, and the traditional 21-gun salute.
Jonathan again urged those who lost the Presidential vote to sheathe their swords and join hands with him to implement his Transformation Agenda for Nigeria.
“Let us work together; let us build together; let us bequeath a greater Nigeria to the generations to come,” he said in his inauguration speech.
“Today, our unity is firm, and our purpose is strong. Our determination unshakable. Together, we will unite our nation and improve the living standards of all our peoples whether in the North or in the South; in the East or in the West.
“Our decade of development has begun. The march is on. The day of transformation begins today. We will not allow anyone exploit differences in creed or tongue, to set us one against another.”
Jonathan thanked Nigerians for the trust and confidence bestowed in him by electing him President.
“You have trusted me with your mandate and I will never, never let you down. I know your pain, because I have been there. Look beyond the hardship you have endured. See a new beginning; a new direction; a new spirit.
“Nigerians, I want you to start to dream again. What you see in your dreams, we can achieve together."
He said Nigeria is not just a land of promise but shall be a nation where positive change will continue to take place for the good of the people.
“The time for lamentation is over. This is the era of transformation. This is the time for action. But Nigeria can only be transformed if we all play our parts with commitment and sincerity.
“Cynicism and scepticism will not help our journey to greatness. Let us all believe in a new Nigeria. Let us work together to build a great country that we will all be proud of. This is our hour.
“Lift your gaze towards the horizon. Look ahead and you will see a great future that we can secure with unity, hard work and collective sacrifice.
“Join me now as we begin the journey of transforming Nigeria. I will continue to fight for your future, because I am one of you. I will continue to fight for improved medical care for all our citizens. I will continue to fight for all citizens to have access to first class education.
“I will continue to fight for electricity to be available to all our citizens. I will continue to fight for an efficient and affordable public transport system for all our people. I will continue to fight for jobs to be created through productive partnerships.”
Jonathan also promised to strengthen relations with other countries.
“This is a new dawn for Africa. We fought for decolonisation. We will now fight for democratisation. 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 on the continent. Africa must develop its vast resources to tackle poverty and under-development.”
The ceremony was witnessed by 26 foreign Heads of State, Prime Ministers, and Vice Presidents representing 35 countries.
Many other countries were represented by Ambassadors.
The Heads of State included Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe); Sirleaf Ellen-Johnson (Liberia); Atta Mills (Ghana); Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal); Allasane Ouattara (Cote d’Ivoire); Joseph Kabila (Congo Democratic Republic); Jacob Zuma (South Africa); Yoweri Museveni (Uganda); Boni Yayi (Benin); and Paul Kigame (Rwanda).
Former Nigerian Heads of State included Yakubu Gowon, Abdusalami Abubakar, Ernest Shonekan, former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo, and former Vice President Alex Ekwueme.
Absent were former military President Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who vied for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket with Jonathan; and Muhammadu Buhari who lost the Presidential ballot on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Nothing was left to chance on Sunday as Abuja hosted dozens of foreign dignitaries at the inauguration.
Even mobile telephone services went dead as calls could neither be made nor received in Abuja till late in the day, long after the ceremony had ended.
It was learnt that mobile telephone networks were intentionally jammed to prevent any one from “playing any unwanted game.”
Signs of what to expect in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Abuja city were visible as one entered the territory from the Lokoja-Abuja Expressway, the major road linking the FCT with the South.
Stern-looking, fully armed, but courteous soldiers mounted barricades on the road, meticulously checking vehicles and individuals going into the capital city.
Drivers and passengers considered suspicious were asked to pull over, and their vehicles thoroughly searched.
Bomb detection devices scanned vehicles before they were allowed to proceed.
Anti-terrorist policemen were stationed at the intersection linking the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
From that point to the city centre, there was no other check point.
However, soldiers, policemen, and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) personnel patrolled the long stretch of the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Expressway (formerly Airport Road) linking the area to the city centre.
People who claimed to be former Niger Delta militant leaders had last week threatened to storm Abuja in protest over the inability of the government to guarantee their safety.
They alleged that four of their members have been killed in the last one year after embracing the amnesty programme.
They threatened to disrupt the inauguration to demonstrate their grievances.
In October last year, a bomb explosion nearly marred the independence anniversary at the Eagle Square. Lives were lost at the scene, which was a few meters away from the Square.
On Sunday, the entire Three-Arms Zone housing the Federal Secretariat, the National Assembly (NASS), the Eagle Square, the Supreme Court, and the Presidential Villa were cordoned off by security personnel.
Security within the city centre was provided by the police, the Army, Navy, Air Force, FRSC, and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Armed mobile policemen and soldiers guarded the NNPC Tower, and security was tightened at the PDP national secretariat at Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5.
Thousands of Nigerians not officially invited to the inauguration were shut out of the Eagle Square.
Attendance was strictly by invitation. Personal recognition failed to work for “big men” who came to the event uninvited.
To prevent stampede, and keep uninvited persons out, barricades were erected at the Ministry of Finance junction, about one kilometre from the Eagle Square, where people were frisked, and their invitation cards scrutinised.
No one was allowed to drive beyond the barricade. All invitees, foreign and local, disembarked from their vehicles and walked the distance.
A Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep marked Abuja CG 274 RSH with sticker on its windshield showing that it conveyed delegates from Uganda was parked in front of Benue State House adjacent to the Finance Ministry.
Journalists without accreditation were also courteously turned back by the security men at the check point, likewise PDP delegations who came from the 36 states without invitation.
All roads leading to the Eagle Square from the National Mosque, NNPC junction, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, and Mararaba axis were cordoned from about 5,000 metres away.
Besides the ground patrol, military helicopters hovered around the city centre.
Military snipers adorned in dark attires stood on top of the tall Federal Secretariat buildings, the Supreme Court, and other tall structures close to the Eagle Square.
Due to the tight security, the inauguration was without the usual hustling and bustling of commercial activities around the venue, as food, souvenir and other vendor items were restricted to more than a kilometre to the venue.
Anti-bomb squad mini-vans were located at various junctions on Aso Drive, Shehu Shagari Way, and National Mosque.
Until the end of Jonathan’s inauguration the slightest sign of life was restricted to Wuse Zone 6, about four kilometres away to Three Arms Zone. Despite the heavy security presence, millions of Nigerians joined in the celebration from the homes and in the streets of the Federal capital Abuja and many other State capitals around the Country.
The only major inccident was a bomb blast that went of in Bauchi State, no group yet claimed responsibilty but eye witness account confirms injury to civilian and New Generation Africa has not been able to confirm the exact number of fatalities and those injured.