Nigeria’s Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan has become acting president, after weeks of political turmoil caused by the absence of its ailing leader.
In a televised address to the nation, Mr Jonathan described the role as a “sacred trust”.
The National Assembly earlier voted to recognise him as acting leader in place of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Mr Yar’Adua has not been seen in public since going to Saudi Arabia in November for medical treatment.
His continued absence has sparked legal challenges, cabinet splits and mass street protests.
It has led to a freeze in government business and threatened progress made in combating unrest in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
“I am fully aware of the responsibilities reposed in me, and I want to reassure all Nigerians that this is a sacred trust, which I shall discharge to my fullest abilities,” Mr Jonathan said in his televised address on Tuesday.
In a country with a history of military coups, he thanked the armed forces for “their loyalty and devotion to duty during this trying period”.
Mr Jonathan, due to chair his first cabinet meeting later, said he would build on the amnesty for Niger Delta militants begun by Mr Yar’Adua.
Some militants in the region have threatened to break the amnesty, citing government delays in implementing the programme.
He asked the country to pray for Mr Yar’Adua’s recovery.
“The circumstances – in which I find myself assuming office today as acting president of our country – are uncommon, sober and reflective,” he said.
“More than ever therefore, I urge all Nigerians as a people who have faith in God to pray fervently for the full recovery of our dear president, and his early return.”
Mr Yar’Adua is said to be receiving treatment for an inflammation of the lining around the heart and he has long suffered from kidney problems.
SOURCED FROM BBC