Newly inaugurated Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday vowed to enforce responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country.
In his first speech shortly after taking his oath of office, Mr. Buhari said with Nigeria’s new commitment to democracy and the determination by Nigerians to entrench its culture, there was need to clarify the relations between Abuja and the 36 states in the country’s best interest.
Although he acknowledged the limits to the powers of the three tiers of government as enshrined in the Constitution, the president said the Federal Government would not fold its arms and close its eyes to the goings-on in the states and local governments.
Making particular reference to the Local Government Joint Account, Mr. Buhari said although the Federal Government cannot interfere in the details of its operations, it would ensure that the gross corruption at the local level was checked.
“As far as the constitution allows me, I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country,” the president said.
He said he would have failed to keep his trust with the people if allowed others abuse their power under his watch.
While Nigeria has three tiers of government, only the states and the federal have been relatively functional.
For years, Nigeria’s powerful governors have hijacked the operations of the lowest tier – the local government – by seizing funds meant for their development, through what they term, “joint accounts”.
Repeated attempts at amending the Constitution to grant full autonomy to the local government have been unsccuessful.
On his inauguration as the sixth democratically elected president of the Federal Republic, Mr. Buhari thanked God for preserving Nigerians to witness the occasion.
He said the day marked a triumph for Nigeria and an occasion to celebrate the country’s freedom and her democracy.
“Nigerians have shown their commitment to democracy and are determined to entrench its culture,” he said.
He eulogised his predecessor in office, former President Goodluck Jonathan, for his display of statesmanship.
He said his unprecedented decision to have conceded defeat during the elections had set the precedence for all Nigerians to be proud of.
“He (Jonathan) has made it possible for us to show the world that despite the perceived tension in the land, we can be a united people capable of doing what is right for our nation,” he said. “Together we co-operated to surprise the world that had come to expect only the worst from Nigeria. I hope this act of graciously accepting defeat by the outgoing President will become the standard of political conduct in the country.”
The new president used the occasion to reassure Nigeria’s neighbours in the sub-region and African regions of the country’s readiness under his administration to play the expected leadership role in Africa.