President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
By Ike Abonyi, Chuks Okocha, Ahamefula Ogbu and Paul Obi
Thirty-eight Heads of Government from African countries, the Caribbean and Asian countries attended the inauguration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the fourth democratically-elected President of Nigeria.
The leaders are made up of 30 Presidents, four Prime Ministers and four Vice-Presidents with former Presidents of Ghana; Jerry Rawlings and former President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda in attendance.
Also former Nigerian Presidents and Heads of State in attendance were former Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Yakubu Gowon, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, were among other dignitaries that attended the inauguration ceremony.
Jonathan’s opponent in the April 16 election and candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC), Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the former Minister of Finance, Malam Adamu Ciroma and the former National Security Adviser, Lt-Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd) were absent at the occasion.
The inauguration ceremony, which took place at the Eagle Square, had almost all African Presidents and Heads of State in attendance, as the roll call, at some point, became a matter of who-is-who on the African continent.
European Presidents and Prime Ministers were represented by their ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic missions in Nigeria.
Jonathan arrived the venue at exactly 11 am in company of his wife, Patience, in a Mercedes V 12 l bullet proof limousine and immediately on their arrival, the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh, said the opening prayers.
In his prayers, he said God had spoken through Jonathan that power belongs to Him and gives to whom He prefers.
According to him, it was God that removes Kings and Princes from the throne and makes new ones to take dominion over others, while praying that God Almighty should grant the President the powers and political will to tackle corruption.
The Muslim prayer was performed by Ustaz Musa Mohammed who prayed for peace in the land.
The occasion witnessed colourful parades displayed by the men and officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The parade was commanded by Lt. Col. Olatunji Isiaka Owolabi accompanied by the Commander of the Brigade of Guards, Brigadier-General Emmanuel Atewe.
The President inspected the Guard of Honour in a Green Army Coloured V8 Mercedes Jeep.
All service chiefs led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Oluseyi Petirin were present.
Over 1,050 school children, who had been in camps for three weeks, performed a colourful display to the delight of audience.
The high point of the occasion was the swearing in of the President and the Vice President.
The Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Sunday Olorindanusi, introduced the Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu who administered the oath of office on the President and his deputy.
At exactly 12.45 pm, the Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo was sworn in by Justice Katsina–Alu, while at 12.55am, Jonathan took his oath of office.
The presentation of the Coat of Arms and flags was performed through the Chief of Defence Staff who, after receiving the flags from the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), handed them over to Jonathan.
This was followed by the lowering of the old flags which signified the end of the old administration and the hoisting of a new flag, which signified the beginning of a new term of office to be led by Jonathan.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja was literarily shut down Sunday for over three hours by operatives of the intelligence community as part of measures put in place to ensure a hitch-free inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan and his deputy, Alhaji Namadi Sambo.
There was palpable tension and uncertainty as all telephone and communication networks were suddenly shut down as soon as Jonathan arrived Eagle Square for the colourful ceremony. The event lasted for about three hours.
Though, there was no official notice to the abrupt seizure of the services, THISDAY checks revealed that the shut down, which also affected Blackberry services in the capital city, and effected as early as 7am, may not be unconnected with the resolve by security personnel to put every activity in Abuja under surveillance.
Also, there was low presence of North African leaders at the event except that of Algeria, which many said was prompted by the continuous uprising across the region and other Arab nations.
Besides, all entry points into the city, from Nasarawa, Niger and Kogi States were blocked by men of the Nigerian Army, who were armed to the teeth.
There were also aerial security displays with helicopters hovering round the city as part of the intense security measures while the ceremony lasted.
A top official of the intelligence community told THISDAY that the security did not want to leave anything to chance.
“You cannot bring over 35 presidents and Heads of Government and toy with their life; we have not got out of the embarrassment of the October 1 bomb blast,”â€ˆhe said.
Security at the venue was tight as six gates were mounted before the main venue. Also, dignitaries, including members of the diplomatic corps, were conveyed to the venue in a military bus.
Due to the checks, some seats at the Eagle Square were also empty as only screened and accredited visitors were allowed in, while those without accreditation were barred from gaining access into the venue. Road blocks were also mounted in such places as the Ministry of Finance, the NNPC Building, the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre and Unity Fountain.
The Key Moments
11.00am: Jonathan arrives Eagle Square.
11.15am: Inspects the Brigade of Guards.
12.45pm: Namadi Sambo sworn-in as VP.
12.54pm: Jonathan takes oath of office.
12.58pm: Signs the oath document.
1.02pm: Receives the Coat of Arms.
1.11pm: Receives the national flag and the regimental flag of the armed forces.
1.40pm: Inspects the Guard Brigade the second time as his first official assignment.
2.20pm: Departs with other dignitaries.
In attendance: President of Ghana; Prof. Atta Mills, President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, President of Togo and Toure Enyansingbe Eyedema. Presidents of Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad and Niger Republic. President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as well as the Presidents of Nambia, Swaziland and Zambia. Those from the Central African countries were Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ali Bongo of Gabon and Sausu Nguema of Congo Republic. Others are Presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Uganda , Central African Republic , Burundi , Sao Tome and Principe . The President of Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister of Georgia, Mayor of Dallas in the United States, Vice President of Korea, Vice President of Ethiopia, Vice President of Kenya and the Vice President of Tanzania also attended the ceremony.