President Barack Obama of the United States has named Secretary of State, John Kerry, to lead the American government delegation to the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president.
Mr. Buhari will be sworn into office on May 29, alongside his vice president-elect, Yemi Osinbajo.
“Today @POTUS announced that @JohnKerry will lead the U.S. Presidential Delegation to the inauguration of President-elect Buhari of #Nigeria,” the U.S. State Department tweeted late Monday.
There has been high international interest in Nigeria’s political transition and the planned transfer of power from the Jonathan-Sambo presidency to the Buhari-Osinbajo presidency.
The United States, which closely followed the elections in March, has particularly shown interest in the transition, with Mr. Obama considering sending Vice President Joe Biden to lead his presidential team to Nigeria on May 29.
Some senior members of the U.S. Congress, including the Chairman of the US House of Representatives Sub Committee on Africa, Chris Smith, are also said to be planning to attend the event.
The U.S. President normally announces a delegation to the presidential inaugurations of friendly nations to be led by the Ambassador in that country.
But in rare occasions, he picks very senior public officials as the head of delegation to underscore how the US highly regards the country or the circumstances at a given point in time.
From the U.S. government to the business sectors and think tanks, the level of excitement about the anticipated peaceful transfer of power in Nigeria and the outcome of the elections itself producing the Buhari-Osinbajo ticket from an opposition party, APC, has been widespread.
Some of the U.S. groups that have been showing keen interest to attend the inauguration and pressuring the U.S. government to send a very high-powered delegation are the Atlantic Council, and the Constituency for Africa-groups known to be very influential in Washington DC.
There were calls last week for Mr. Obama himself to personally attend the event.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, also tweeted that, “Inauguration will mark a historic transfer of power and underscore the Nigerian people’s commitment to democracy.”