Muhammadu Buhari has assumed office in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. Nigerians are hopeful their new leader can stamp out corruption and Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency.
The scene in Abuja was festive on Friday as Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as president of Nigeria following his historic election victory in March. Wearing the traditional robes of the country's mainly Muslim north, Buhari shook hands with visiting heads of state and dignitaries, including South African President Jacob Zuma and US Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of the ceremony.
Outgoing leader Goodluck Jonathan arrived about half an hour later than his successor, taking a seat next to Buhari after the national anthem was played.
Security across the capital was tight as power was peacefully transferred from the ruling party to the opposition for the first time ever in the West African nation. Thousands of policemen patrolled Abuja's hotels and set up barricades on all roads leading in and out of the city.
The inauguration was held in Abuja's Eagle Square conference center, which was decorated in the green, white and light blue colors of Buhari's All Progressives Congress party.
Buhari brings new hope
Buhari has inherited a nation grappling with an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands and forced 1.5 million people to flee their homes as well as with state corruption that has left government coffers nearly empty.
The retired general faced similar crises when he briefly ruled as a military dictator in the early 1980s when he defeated another homegrown jihadist group. Now Nigerians are hopeful that Buhari, the only leader believed not to have enriched himself from state funds, can curb the graft plaguing the oil-rich country.
He has declared himself a "born-again democrat." Before his swearing in, he also shook hands with the elected president he ousted in the 1983 coup, Shehu Shagari, and the general that deposed him a year and a half later, Ibrahim Babangida.
Buhari became the first challenger to oust an incumbent president in Nigerian history when he beat Goodluck Jonathan at the polls in March. Jonathan's reputation suffered greatly for the way the Boko Haram uprising was allowed to flourish under his watch.
Since February, gains have been made against in the Islamists in neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, but a sustained offensive will be needed to quell the persistent violence.
es/jil (AP, AFP, dpa)