Saturday, May 29, 1999 Published at 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Nigeria embraces civilian rule
Civilian President Olusegun Obasanjo is handed the constitution
Nigeria's new civilian president, Olusegun Obasanjo has been sworn into office, promising to stamp out the corruption which became a feature of the years of military rule.
On the eve of his inauguration, a giant firework display passed on a message from his people
He promised to tackle many of Nigeria's problems including crime, unemployment and poverty.
As he completed the oath of office the crowd of dignitaries and ordinary Nigerians burst into applause.
Some 40 heads of state and foreign dignataries from across the world were in the capital, Abuja, to watch the handover of power.
President Obasanjo takes over from General Abdulsalam Abubakar, who paved the way for elections.
The new president arrived in Eagle Square for the handover dressed in a traditional costume in the national colours of green and white.
'Cancer of corruption'
Mr Obasanjo, in his inaugural speech, vowed to clean up Nigerian politics.
"All the impacts of bad government that are immediately removeable will be removed, while working for medium and long term solutions.
"Corruption will be tackled head on. No society can achieve its full potential if it allows corruption to become the full-blown cancer it has in Nigeria."
African heads of state attending the inauguration included Daniel arap Moi of Kenya and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania.
The ceremony also brought together a number of political adversaries including President Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo and his regional rival President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
Prince Charles represented the United Kingdom and American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson was also there.
He said: "After 15 years of military rule today is a day of promise for a great future.
"This day must rank second only to 1 October 1960 - the day of our national independence.
"We hope and pray that this presidency ushers in a new, united, strong and democratic Nigeria that is the pride of us all."
His last move, before handing over power, was to abolish the decree allowing the detention without trial.
The BBC's correspondent in Abuja, Barnaby Phillips, says Mr Obasanjo inherits a country with staggering problems left by a succession of corrupt and repressive military administrations.
But, he says, for now at least the mood is one of celebration.
The country has vast reserves of oil and the potential to be one of Africa's richest nations.
But the economy has been steadily withering after years of waste, corruption and mismanagement.
Meanwhile, unemployment is soaring and much of the population lives in poverty with no access to electricity, roads or education.
Mr Obasanjo, himself a former military ruler, insists he will bring Nigeria back from economic collapse. Now millions of Nigerians will be watching to see him prove his worth.