Some Nigerians and groups yesterday responded to President Muhammadu Buhari’s Independence Day speech, with some expressing their dissatisfaction at its contents.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said President Muhammadu Buhari’s comparison of the challenges faced by Nigerians under his administration to the agony of the Civil War underscores the horrible situation of the country on his watch.
Citing the President Buhari’s words – “‘The past 18 months have been some of the most difficult periods in the history of Nigeria. Since the civil war, I doubt whether we have seen a period of more heightened challenges than what we have witnessed in this period” – the main opposition party said the president’s admission of the situation in his Independence Anniversary speech vindicates PDP’s stand that his government is incompetent, confused and the worst in the history of the country.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said this grave assertion brings to mind the ugly images of the civil war: the killings, lawlessness, violence, human rights violations, poverty, hunger, starvation and other horrible situations as are also currently being witnessed today under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration.
“From Mr. President’s admission, it is clear that he has nobody but himself to blame for the sorry situation in Nigeria under his watch
“It is therefore a pathetic antithesis for Mr. President to attempt to exonerate himself by claiming that no government since 1999 has done what his administration has done in six years;, a claim that portrays a desperation to parry blame for the consequences of the misrule of his administration.
“Rather, what obtains in the public space is that no government has since 1999 brought our nation to her knees on every facet of life like the Buhari administration.
“It is appalling that in his speech, President Buhari had no concrete assurance on how to revamp our economy and how to end acts of terrorism in our country. Instead, the speech, as usual, dwelt on empty claims that have no bearing with the actual situation in the country.”
Buhari’s Independence Day Speech Fails To Address Economic Challenges – CSJ
On its part, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) said President Buhari’s Independence Day speech failed to address Nigeria’s economic challenges.
A statement by Eze Onyekpere, the lead director of the Centre for Social Justice, a Nigerian Knowledge Institution, said on such occasions a leader proposes a vision which is a new way of doing things to achieve targeted results.
He said, “Leadership is about inspiration, hope, commitment and accountability. As the Nigerian economy continues to struggle and citizens remain traumatised by hardship, a leader must be able to motivate citizens to confront the economic, existential and nation building challenges. Nigeria is in dire need of a motivational and an inspirational leader who leads from the front and through the sheer power of example.”
On Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary, CSJ notes that the economic situation in the country remains one of the biggest challenges facing the nation.
“Nigeria’s economy is ravaged by double digit inflation, worsening poverty, incredible unemployment figures especially among the youth, a fast depreciated and depreciating currency, a huge trade deficit, debt service that gulps all retained revenue, etc. All these are compounded by insecurity and terrorism. Nigeria’s economy has stagnated, growing at less than 1% cumulatively during the past six years, far below population growth of 2.6%,” he said.
Onyekpere went on, “Granted, COVID-19 has battered economies everywhere, but Nigeria’s economic malaise predates the pandemic. Nigeria had slumped into a recession immediately the President took office. Thus, the pandemic merely added to the economic woes.”
CSJ said it had expected that policy measures to control the economic rot would have been announced by the president.
“So, it is regrettable that there were no policy statements to stop the free fall of the naira which has lost 13% of its value since July 28 2021 after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stopped sales of the foreign currencies to Bureau de Change.
“Today, the Naira exchanges for N570 to $1 on the dominant market where the majority of Nigerians source their funds while it is largely unchanged at the average rate of N411 to dollar at the controlled CBN window which is available to only a few privileged Nigerians.”
CSJ called on President Buhari to urgently come up with policies and reforms to reduce insecurity so that businesses and farming can start to thrive, reduce inflation, protect the poor and vulnerable and support economic recovery.
Onyekpere added that there should be a full elimination of the petrol subsidy while refocusing subsidy (if need be) on production instead of consumption in addition to reducing the cost of governance.
PMB’s Address, Worst In Country’s History -PANDEF
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s Independence Day speech as the worst in the history of the country.
It wondered why Buhari made no mention of the killer herdsmen, bandits and insurgents who were destroying farms and haunting farmers away from their farmlands, across the country.
PANDEF, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP Weekend in Port Harcourt yesterday by its spokesman, Ken Robinson, stated that the President’s Independence Day speech reverberated the bigotry and nepotism of the present administration.
The statement reads in part: “This year’s Independence Day speech by President Muhammadu Buhari can easily be deemed the worst independence day speech in Nigeria’s history.
“The speech was indifferent to the mood of the country; the growing disaffections, dissensions and disillusions, arising from the actions and inactions of the government. Rather, it’s full of hallucinations and wishful thinking, perhaps, based on what might be pleasing to the president, and not the citizens.
“There is something wrong with the president’s speechwriters and handlers. They offend citizens’ sensibilities in their ridiculous, tenuous justification of the colossal failure of the administration.
“They are either making excuses or playing the blame game; it’s always someone else’s fault. How can they say it is hoarding by “middlemen” that is responsible for the current food crisis in the country?
“Unsurprisingly, no mention was made of the killer herdsmen, bandits and insurgents who are destroying farms and hunting farmers away from their farmlands across the country. Of course, they are untouchables! The assertion that the government is taking the fight against insecurity to the enemy and winning is also odd. How?
“A few days ago, gunmen, reportedly again, invaded Sarkin Pawa, headquarters of Munyan local government area of Niger state, killing no fewer than thirty people. Bandits also, allegedly, overran a joint military base in Sabon Birni local government area of Sokoto State, killing some security personnel last week.
“And, last Sunday, suspected Boko Haram insurgents also reportedly attacked a community in Yobe State. The incident, which caused many of the villagers to flee, came a month after the terrorists launched a similar assault on the community. Reports of the horrendous activities of bandits, insurgents and herders are upsetting and terrifying.
“So what ‘fight against insecurity’ is the government winning? Is it the fight against Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu? That explains why they easily can declare to have identified sponsors of Igboho and Kanu but remain silent on sponsors of the insurgents, bandits and killer herders, who are the true enemies of the country. It’s a shame.”
Ohanaeze Urges Buhari to Prosecute Sponsors Of Kanu, Igboho
Reacting to President Buhari’s speech, the apex Igbo sociocultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, urged him to prosecute any member(s) of the National Assembly sponsoring the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, and Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Igboho.
National publicity secretary of Ohanaeze, Aex Ogbonnia, made the call in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Enugu.
Ogbonnia, however, said such information was not supposed to be part of the speech of the president. According to him, people wanted to hear policy statements that would bring the desired changes.
He, however, said that he was happy that the president talked about dialogue and unity, noting that Ohanaeze has alway been talking about the need for it.
The Ohanaeze spokesman maintained that when dialogue begins, problems could be addressed.
He further stated that a great number of Igbo are of the view that they are only tolerated and not wanted in Nigeria.
He therefore advised the president to address the needs of the people, adding that the gravest problem of Nigeria today is injustice
NPSA, Others Urge Buhari To Disclose Identities Of Kanu, Igboho’s financiers
The federal government has been urged to disclose the identities of the alleged financiers of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, a.k.a. Igboho.
President , Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA), Prof Hassan Salihu made the call while reacting to President Buhari’s independence day speech.
Buhari had, in a speech to mark Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary, said investigations have revealed the financiers of Kanu and Igboho.
Salihu, a political science teacher at the University of Ilorin, said: “My reaction is simple. Avail us of their names. Perhaps, they are the evil people that he has talked about.”
In his own reaction, a former Intelligence and Community Policing Officer, Metropolitan Police, United Kingdom, Hanbali AbdulRaheem said Buhari should not have included this issue in his speech.
“Frankly speaking, the president ought not to have put that in his speech. In the first instance, the investigation is still ongoing and it could have been better had he announced to the nation that certain individuals have been arrested, investigations have been completed and they will soon be charged to court.
“No one has been arrested including one lawmaker he mentioned.
If at the end of the day, nothing happens, it’s going to be a dirty slap and a knock on the government,” AbdulRaheem submitted.
A former chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Kwara State, Alhaji Umar Akanbi, noted that Buhari has not said anything categorical about who the sponsors of Kanu and Igboho are, or whether they have been identified or not.
“He merely hinted at the potentiality of arrest and prosecution of some anonymous figures supposedly known to powers that be,” Akanbi stated.
He added:” This approach appears to be characteristic of his numerous speeches on this and other sundry challenges confronting us as a nation.
“His threat this time could perhaps arise against the backdrop of the practical efforts of the Dubai government in not only identifying sponsors of terrorism among whom are six Nigerians, but naming and prosecuting them.
“Much as one tends to agree and appreciate that Mr President is sufficiently informed about the daunting challenges as espoused in his speech, it is expected that, beyond the rhetoric, he will muster profound political will to deal decisively with the issues.”
Nigeria @61: Putin Writes Buhari Over Security
The president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, yesterday felicitated with Nigeria as it turned 61, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to promote security and stability on the African continent.
This is even as the Russian President restated commitment to more engaging, robust, and mutually beneficial relations between Nigeria and Russia.
A copy of Putin’s message made available to LEADERSHIP Weekend by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Nigeria, reads in part: “Please accept my congratulations on the occasion of the national holiday of your country, Independence Day.
“I am convinced that further development of the traditionally friendly relations between Russia and Nigeria fully accords with the interests of our people and promotes stronger security and stability on the African continent.”
President Putin also wished President Buhari good health and success, and Nigerian citizens peace and prosperity.
Similarly, the Speaker of Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matvienko, sent a congratulatory message to the president of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawal, on the occasion of Nigeria at 60.
In the letter, Matvienko expressed hope that relations between Russia and Nigeria would continue to strive while emphasising the need for mutual trust.
He also congratulated the speaker and Nigerians on the national holiday of the country’s Independence Day.
He said, “Relations between our countries, traditionally open and respectful in character, are based on the mutual aspiration towards a stronger partnership in the political sphere, trade and economy, cultural and humanitarian areas.”
“Today, we actively implement joint projects in energy and mineral resources development, work together in infrastructure and industry, and promote military cooperation.”
“I am convinced that cooperation between the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will continue to grow stronger for the benefit of our nations and in the interests of stability and progress on the African continent. On our part, we are ready to fully support further strengthening of contacts in all areas.”
Let’s Be Hopeful Of A Better Nigeria, PMB Urges Citizens
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged all Nigerians to look forward to a better Nigeria as the country marks her 61st independence anniversary.
He is therefore calling on all citizens to propagate a new and positive narrative that the country is ready to harness her own resources to become a global player in all fields of endeavour.
The president made the declaration on Thursday night, at the unveiling of the largest pictorial book produced by his personal photographer.
The event, held at the conference centre of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, was part of events marking the country’s independence anniversary.
President Buhari said: “Nigeria is undoubtedly a blessed nation with abundant human and natural resources underpinned by a very rich sociocultural diversity which needs to be positively harnessed to forge a greater Nigeria.
“We must all come together to propagate a new and positive narrative that Nigeria is ready to harness her own resources to become a global player in commerce, governance, arts, sports and other fields of endeavour.
“As we close the sixtieth anniversary celebrations today, we look forward to the beginning of a better, brighter and greater Nigeria come tomorrow when we begin our sixty first year as a nation. It is my hope that our march to unity and greatness gathers momentum.”
The President assured Nigerians that government, under his leadership, would continue to provide the condusive environment for all citizens to achieve their dreams.
He said: “As we all march towards building the Nigeria of our dreams, government will continue to provide the enabling environment for citizens to achieve their dreams while we count on their support to make Nigeria a better place for all.
“Nigeria is undoubtedly a blessed nation with abundant human and natural resources underpinned by a very rich sociocultural diversity which needs to be positively harnessed to forge a greater Nigeria.
“For this diversity to translate into positive gains, that would ensure an inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth requires that we Nigerians consistently embrace the ethics and values that unite us in spite of our diversity, appreciate our individual and collective role in nation building and forge ahead as a people with a common vision as a strong and indivisible nation.”
President Buhari expressed optimism that no matter the kind of challenges the nation faces, it will surmount them and come out better.
The highlight of Thursday’s event was the unveiling of the 60-page as well as 60 Square metre photo book entitled ‘Discover Nigeria,’ which was produced by the President’s personal photographer.
The book has since entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest pictorial book in the world.
Present at the epoch making event were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila among others.