It was gathered that global attention shifts to the world’s most populous black nation on the planet, Nigeria, where the country’s fifth democratically elected president, Muhammadu Buhari, will be inaugurated on Friday (today).
Contrary to speculations, indications emerged on Thursday that the outgoing President, Goodluck Jonathan, will attend the historic occasion which would mark the first time a sitting president would hand over power to a victorious challenger.
The event expected to be witnessed by many world leaders will take place at the Eagle Square, Abuja, the nation’s hilly capital city.
As of the last count, no fewer than 20 world leaders have flown into the country in readiness to attend the ceremony.
Activities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, peaked on Thursday as Presidents and representatives from many countries landed at the facility and were subsequently driven to their various hotels.
The PUNCH learnt that Jonathan, whose administration had earlier expressed the wish to hand over power to Buhari a day before the May 29 official date, has decided to attend the event in demonstration of his sportsmanship.
It was gathered that the outgoing President would fly the flagship of the presidential fleet codenamed “Nigerian Air Force 001” or “Eagle One” in an official capacity as President for the last time today.
After the inauguration, the aircraft will fly Jonathan to the Port Harcourt Airport, Rivers State, from where he is expected to be flown in a helicopter to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, en route a homeward journey in a convoy of cars to Otuoke, his hometown.
Speculations were rife that Jonathan might shun the inauguration ceremony owing to the acrimony that greeted the election.
But a top Presidency official, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent that Jonathan would attend the event.
He said if Jonathan failed to attend the event, he might end up portraying himself as a bad loser despite the fact that he conceded defeat to Buhari shortly after the election.
The official, however, expressed the hope that the leaders of the All Progressives Congress would prevail on their supporters not to do anything to humiliate the outgoing President at the event.
The official said, “Immediately after the inauguration, the outgoing President will travel to his state on Air Force 001 for the last time.
“As a former President, any of the smaller aircraft in the presidential fleet can be made available to him on request, but not the 001. The only reason why he can fly that aircraft again is either if he becomes the President again or if he is to accompany a sitting President on a trip.”