Power Is Transient: Episodes from the Buhari Era It was a colourful and beautiful ceremony to behold. There was glamour and pageantry and love him or hate him, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu was sworn-in as Nigeria’s sixteen President. It was the seventh peaceful transition from one democratic government to another since 1999. The swearing-in ceremony
Power Is Transient: Episodes from the Buhari Era
It was a colourful and beautiful ceremony to behold. There was glamour and pageantry and love him or hate him, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu was sworn-in as Nigeria’s sixteen President. It was the seventh peaceful transition from one democratic government to another since 1999.
The swearing-in ceremony was consummated at exactly 10:36 am by the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola. Tinubu wore a pure white caftan with a green cap to match symbolizing Nigeria’s green-white-green national colours. The ceremony had many other symbolic developments and most of the items used and photographs taken will end up in the national museum.
The handing over ceremony was threatened by early downpour of rains; an occurrence capable of multiple interpretations inclusive that of a peaceful reign. But soon after, the stage was reset for a ceremony that saw guests trooping into the venue as early as 8:00 am. The event started formally when the outgoing President Buhari arrived the Eagle Square at 10:00 am. He entered the venue with solemn rendition of music supplied by men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Upon Buhari’s arrival, the national anthem was rendered and after taking his salute, he went round to greet dignitaries including former Presidents and Heads of delegations from abroad. Only two former Nigerian Presidents were in attendance. They are General Yakubu Gowon, and President Goodluck Jonathan. The other three Heads of state namely, Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalam Abubakar, were conspicuously absent.
Soon the opening prayers were said; one by an Imam and the other by a Bishop. At exactly 10:28 am Vice-President-elect Kashim Shettima was invited to the podium for his oath of office, he was accompanied by his wife. He signed the protocol register at exactly 10:32 am and returned to his seat.
At 10:36 am, President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu was invited to the podium to take his oath of office. He was accompanied by his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and some of his children, including Mr. Oluseyi Tinubu and Mrs. Iyabo Tinubu-Ojo, the Iyaloja-General of Nigeria. They were joined by some members of the Buhari’s family including Buhari.
Then, the national flags and the defence flags were lowered, folded and handed over to the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, who in turn handed them over in a box to former President Buhari, who also handed them over to the Commander Brigade of Guards, signifying the end of the Buhari’s tenure and dispensation. A new box, containing fresh flags were brought forward and handed over to the Chief of Defence Staff General Irabor, who in turn handed them over to former President Buhari, who presented them to President Tinubu, who in turn handed them over back to the Chief of Defence Staff and in that reverse order returned to the officers who hoisted and raised the new flags, signifying the beginning of a new era.
Thereafter, President Tinubu inspected the Guards of Honour in a decorated military vehicle; an open roof jeep, after which he returned to the state box to greet dignitaries, spending more time chatting with the foreign Heads of governments and their delegations.
President Buhari and his wife did not return to the state box as their seats have been taken over by the newly sworn-in President and wife, that has always been the tradition. They took their exit waving to the audience and went straight to the Airport enroute Katsina. At the podium, before they stepped down, wife of the former President, Mrs Aisha Buhari could be seen frantically introducing her son Yusuf, to President Tinubu, who greeted him warmly nodding his head.
Power Is Transient: Episodes from the Buhari Era
He drove into the venue with the opulence and paraphernalia of power but in the end submitted to the transiency of power when he left the Eagle Square event venue an ordinary citizen, albeit an elder statesman.
He was chauffeured in, in the President’s limousine adorned with the national flag, the defence flag and the seal but drove out of the venue in a jeep which was not his favourite as President; stripped of the national flags and the seal of the President. He left without betraying any emotions or signs of fatigue despite his earlier complaint that he was tired and would gladly stay far away from the seat of power in retirement.
Two hours after he handed over power, he arrived Katsina in Air Force 1, the President’s official aircraft, which he flew in for the last time, privileged as immediate past President. He was seen off at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, by former Vice President Yemi Osibajo and most of his ministers. He was accompanied by his wife, son and close associates and aides.
President Buhari left behind a fractured and highly divided country. He left the country with more security challenges; terrorism, banditry, kidnappings and so on. He left behind a burden of an external debt of about $41 billion or a debt of N77 trillion. He was borrowing money till the eve of his regime and the parliament was busy trying to ratify his ways and means (debts) obtained from the CBN in the final days of his administration. He left behind some of the ills later highlighted in President Bola Tinubu’s inaugural speech. He promised to remodel the economy and achieve a GDP growth of 6 percent and thereby engender massive job creation. Unemployment and deepening of poverty signposted the Buhari years, while annual GDP growth slumped to about two percent with the economy slipping into recession a couple of times.
The Buhari era started on a slow pace in 2015, which earned him the sobriquet of “Baba Go Slow” and later had his health challenge which put the country in anxiety mood for several months leading to rumour of his death. When he returned there were doubts whether it was truly Buhari his look alike named “Jubril from Sudan”. His appointments were criticized for slanting towards the Northern part of the country, most of the time. He was also slow in appointing his ministers and was criticized for leaving them in office with little supervision even when they underperformed in the perception of the public.
His regime left an unending problem with university lecturers and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which disrupted academic calendars and kept students out of school for up to eight months leading to youth restlessness. There has been a big leap in massive migration of young professionals to other countries due to unfavourable environment for them to flourish in Nigeria.
The Buhari era promised so much but delivered very little. For instance, the issue of power which remained epileptic despite boasts that the problem would be fixed. The four non-functional refineries which the government promised to fix were not fixed in eight years. The controversial issues of subsidy which Buhari before coming to power described as conduit pipe for corruption was not stopped but grew in leaps and bounds by up to 400 percent under Buhari. Buhari and especially his Minister for Works Babatunde Fashola criticized the Jonathan regime for inability to complete the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Unfortunately, after eight years the regime could not complete the project, despite his acclaimed good performance on infrastructure. The project will now be completed and commissioned later in the year by President Bola Tinubu.
Not a story of non-performance all thorough; there were some positives that will be credited to the Buhari era. Some of these include the signing of the Petroleum Industry Act; the 2022 Electoral Act which further reformed and deepened electronic accreditation in the electoral process. The regime also tried with the railway system though heavily threatened by security challenges and completed the second Niger Bridge. Katsina state in particular will ever remain grateful that its son was President. The state benefitted with the location and establishment of several federal institutions including tertiary institutions. A mammoth crowd of Katsina citizens came to welcome Buhari and family back home to Katsina state.