General Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated as president of Nigeria Friday in the nation’s capital, delivering a speech in which he vowed to fight “official bungling” and eliminate the presence of terror group Boko Haram in the nation.
Buhari took office Friday after winning the presidential elections in March against incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, in an election that was delayed once due to Boko Haram threats. He had run for president and lost three times before and served as the nation’s military dictator between 1984-1985.
For his inauguration speech as he assumed the head of state role with a legitimate electoral victory for the first time, Buhari announced a major military reform: the headquarters of Nigeria Military Command would be moved out of the capital, Abuja, to Maiduguri, the northern capital of beleaguered Borno State. Maiduguri has long been a significant target for Boko Haram, and Buhari announced the change would place those leading the operation against the terrorist group closer to the root of the problem, making it easier to orchestrate operations.
“The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued,” he stated. “But we cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.” The more than 200 girls still missing from Chibok, Borno State, were kidnapped by the group in April 2014, and most remain missing.
His vow to eradicate Boko Haram echoed his victory speech in April, in which he promised that “Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas.”
He also spoke of invigorating the job market and dispelling government corruption, in the forms of “official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion.”
Many analysts believe that Buhari’s history, both as a target of Boko Haram and a military leader, helped him secure victory over Jonathan, during whose tenure Boko Haram flourished. “Many Nigerians will not forget he was a military leader, during a dictatorship, or maybe they will feel that they need a military leader to address fundamental problems such as terrorism,”African affairs analyst Ayo Johnson told CNN.
Emphasizing his commitment to democracy, Buhari shook the hands of Shehu Shagari, the president he ousted in a coup to become dictator in 1983, and Ibrahim Babangida, the dictator who in turn deposed him, before assuming office. Jonathan’s party, the People’s Democratic Party, also officially congratulated Buhari and extended thanks to Jonathan for peacefully stepping down from power, the first leader in the nation’s history to do so:
The PDP wishes General Buhari a successful tenure as President of our dear nation. Indeed, we appreciate the fact that his success would be to the benefit of Nigeria as a nation. It is against this backdrop that we wish him good health, vigour and wisdom to pilot the affairs of the nation in the next four years.
We also join millions of Nigerians and the international community in commending and applauding immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan for a smooth transition as well as his democratic credentials and enduring legacies in ensuring the stability of the nation.