By Nduka Nwosu and Tokunbo Adedoja in Washington DC
"I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” with these words, President Obama constitutionally began his second term in office at a brief oath-taking ceremony administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, at the Blue Room of the White House yesterday, a few minutes before noon.
Earlier yesterday, the oath of office was administered on Vice-President Joe Biden by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the US Naval Observatory, the official residence of the vice-president.
But a public oath would be administered on the president and his deputy today at the West Front on Capitol. The oath administered yesterday was in compliance with the constitution, which stipulates that the oath of office must be administered before noon on January 20.
Since this year's January 20 fell on a Sunday, a public administration of oath will hold today, in line with the tradition of not holding the occasion on a Sunday.
Today's public oath taking would make the president and his deputy undertake the ritual twice in 24 hours, and makes Obama the seventh president whose public oath-taking date was shifted, and the only president that would take the oath of office four times since President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Obama had taken his oath twice in 2009 because the word “faithfully” was said out of sequence in the first oath administered on him by Chief Justice Roberts and there were fears he had not been legally sworn in, with the possibility of a court action by a disgruntled citizen or group.
Obama, who would deliver his second inaugural address today, is expected to provide inspiration to a nation that went through the most divisive presidential campaign in recent American history and a nation contending with a plethora of challenges ranging from a rising debt profile, discordant tunes on gun control, unsettled issues of immigration, a high unemployment rate, and the slow pace of economic recovery.
Though today’s ceremony is planned to be low-key, with an estimated 800,000 people billed to attend (over a million short of the attendance at his inauguration for first term four years ago, which was symbolic, being the first black president of the United States), security has been beefed up in Washington DC and on routes connected to the inauguration ceremony.
National Guard troops, law enforcement agents and police officers have already taken positions on the inauguration ground and along presidential parade routes on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is closed for the parade. Apart from flight restrictions, Coast Guard vessels would also patrol the Potomac River, while thousands of surveillance cameras would focus on the inauguration ground and parade routes.