Tinubu’s Inauguration: Programmes Begin Thursday, FG Invites Over 65 World Leaders
•Stay away from inauguration venue if you don’t have business there – SGF
•Buhari hands over transition documents to incoming President Thursday
About 65 world leaders, including Heads of State, have been invited to grace the inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, who will be sworn in as the 16th President of Nigeria on May 29.
Also expected at the nation’s seventh transition ceremony are past presidents, diplomats, heads of international organisations and prominent Nigerians and representatives of foreign governments and agencies.
The inauguration programmes will begin on Thursday with the investiture of Tinubu with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic and the Vice-President-elect, Kashim Shettima, as the Grand Commander of Order of the Niger.
A director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to The PUNCH on Thursday that several African leaders had indicated interest in attending the inauguration ceremony which would take place at Eagle Square, Abuja.
“We have 54 countries in Africa and most of them have been invited to the inauguration; so, we don’t expect less than 65 world leaders from Africa, Europe and America at the event,’’ said the director, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the issue.
Representatives of Nigeria’s traditional allies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, China, Germany, Finland, Jamaica, Japan, Israel, Turkey and several others are expected at the high-profile event.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday as activities for the transition of power to the incoming administration began, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, disclosed that scores of world leaders would attend the event.
The preparation for the swearing-in of the former Lagos State governor is gathering steam as the battle to nullify his election victory by the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi continues at the Presidential Election Petitions Court.
On Thursday, the PEPC adjourned further proceedings in Atiku’s petition till Friday (today) to continue further pre-hearing sessions as well as to hear pending applications that were filed by the respondents.
The Justice Haruna Tsammani-led panel said the court would decide on the number of witnesses that would be allowed for each of the parties, the time to be allocated to them, as well as the time to be allowed for cross-examination.
He urged the parties to put heads together and agree on further modalities to be adopted.
The court had similarly adjourned Obi’s petition till today following the failure of the parties to harmonise the documents germane to their pleadings.
But unveiling the inauguration programmes, Mustapha, who doubles as the Chairman of the Presidential Transition Council, disclosed that Tinubu and the Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima would be honoured with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic and Grand Commander of Order of the Niger, respectively, on May 25.
Reeling out the activities for the event, he further disclosed that transition documents would be handed over to Tinubu and Shettima on the same day.
Similarly, he said the former president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, would deliver the inauguration lecture.
The lecture titled, ‘Deepening Democracy for Integration and Development’ would be held on May 27.
Other activities include the Regimental Dinner in honour of the Commander-in-Chief at the Armed Forces Officers Mess slated for Tuesday, May 23; the Valedictory Federal Executive Council Meeting at the Council Chambers inside the Presidential Villa on May 24; Public Lecture and Juma’at prayer at the National Mosque on May 26; Children’s Day Parade and Party on May 27 and an Inter-denominational Church Service at the National Christian Centre on May 28.
Also, the Inauguration Dinner/Gala Night at the State House Conference Centre is billed for May 28 while the inauguration/swearing-in of the president-elect and the vice president-elect will take place on May 29 accompanied by an inauguration parade at the Eagle Square.
There will also be a post-inauguration luncheon strictly for the President with his colleague Presidents, Heads of Government and guests at the State House Banquet Hall after the inauguration ceremony.
The SGF revealed that many world leaders had indicated interest in attending the event.
“So far, invitations have been sent to Presidents and Heads of Government as well as Heads of international organisations. We are also glad to report that many of these invitees have confirmed attendance in person,’’ he affirmed.
But when asked about the identities of the leaders, the SGF said, “Diplomatic privilege does not allow us to announce the number of people coming. If you know what is happening globally, we cannot tell you who is coming. We leave that to their embassies to make it public.”
Mustapha insisted that the handover would hold despite the court cases seeking the cancellation of the ceremony.
The transition committee chairman noted, “The inauguration would not be stopped pending the determination of the cases in court. This is not the first time we have had elections. In my political life, I have seen different transitions.
‘’From Shagari’s period to Buhari, the inauguration went on despite court cases. In 2003, Buhari spent months at the tribunal up till the Supreme Court. He repeated the process three times. The only election that was not litigated was in 2015 when Jonathan conceded defeat. With or without litigation, the handover will be held on May 29. The Constitution and Electoral Act are clear on this.”