|A party supporter wearing All Progressives Congress Party glasses poses with a banner for president-elect Muhammadu Buhari ahead of Friday's handover ceremony in Abuja on May 28, 2015 ©Pius Utomi Ekpei (AFP)|
Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to tackle the nation's problems "head on" and an intensified fight against Boko Haram in his inaugural speech after taking the oath of office on Friday [May 29].
The 72-year-old, who took charge of Africa's most populous nation after an historic election, said he had inherited "enormous challenges", including economic turmoil and widespread unrest.
"We are going to tackle them head on... Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted responsibility to us," he said before supporters, dignitaries and heads of state in the capital Abuja. He slammed Boko Haram insurgents as "a mindless, godless group, who are as far away from Islam as one can think".
The new president, who is an observant Muslim, said he would set up a new military command centre in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, which has been a Boko Haram stronghold. "Victory cannot be achieved from a command and control in Abuja", he added.
He promised to do everything possible to rescue the thousands of hostages believed to still be in Boko Haram captivity, including the 219 schoolgirls taken from the northeast town of Chibok in April 2014. He described Nigeria's current level of electricity output as "a national shame", with residents of Africa's top oil producer facing interminable power cuts that can last for days, and sometimes weeks.
"We will not allow this to go on," Buhari said.
The president noted that after an unprecedented election win that saw the opposition defeat a sitting president for the first time in Nigeria's history, his administration was "basking in the euphoria of goodwill and high expectations". "We have an opportunity," Buhari said. "Let us take it."