The speech was 1909 words and Buhari is surely a man of firsts. Not only does he hold the rare distinction of being the first President who didn’t get there accidentally or by chance, his inaugural address is the first by any Nigerian President to be live blogged and streamed across the globe. However, the longest in world history still remains that of William Harrison delivered on March 4, 1841 which had 8445 words.
Buhari started by thanking former President Goodluck Jonathan for his show of sportsmanship in conceding defeat through a telephone call but was silent on his failure to do so in the three previous times that he lost. Nigerians haven’t yet forgotten his baboon soaked in blood thret speech that he gave in the eventuality of a loss for the fourth time. We recall late Umaru Musa Yar’adua admitted the flaws in the election that brought him to power in 2007. This would have been the perfect opportunity for Buhari to deftly launder his image which is perceived rightly or wrongly to border on a sort of subtle arrogance. We still recall his unwillingness to appear before the Human Rights Violations Investigation Panel popularly known as the Oputa panel when Olusegun Obasanjo held sway. His recent chant of being a repentant democrat should have been put to test here.
He reassured Nigerians that there will be no vindictiveness to allay the fears of how he ‘cleaned’ the Augean stables in his first outing in 1983. This statement is laden with a lot of implied meanings. Does that mean ‘smart’ politicians who were visionary enough to see where the pendulum will eventually swing will be spared any form of prosecution? What do you make out of the surprise dropping of the mind boggling corruption charges of the former Bayelsa Governor, Timipre Sylva by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission? Will this have occurred if he were still with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)? Why is there a reluctance to re-open the case of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria where millions of Nigerians lost their entire life savings? Would Saraki have been in the dock if he was still in the PDP?
He raised the hopes of Nigerians when he promised his distraught countrymen to probe the missing $20 billion as alleged by the former Boss of the Central Bank and now Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. There was palpable silence on his planned agenda for a potent anti-corruption drive. This scourge has cost the nation billions of dollars and set her aback by decades. The hope of anti-corruption crusaders was sadly dashed.
He gave December 2015 as the termination date of the amnesty programme initiated by the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua. There is no problem with an exit date as the ‘party’ would not definitely go on forever. However, grave concerns have been raised by the key stakeholders. Nothing was said about the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoniland – a land flowing with abundant black gold but is one of the most impoverished in the country no thanks to massive environmental degradation by the international oil companies. What about the ex-militants still undergoing training? How they are going to continue with the funding in view of this new reality? We didn’t hear any strategy of how the recurring problem of crude oil theft will be effectively tackled. The Niger Delta insurgency is one that should not be allowed to escalate. The nation had a gory past experience and with the present boko haram imbroglio, we can’t afford to have another gargantuan crisis in our hands.
He acknowledged the role of Chad, Niger and Cameroun in the fight against the boko haram menace surreptitiously alluding to their military prowess. I beg to disagree. These countries only began to give a damn when their territories were threatened. They didn’t initially care when it was our private affair. Why didn’t he give kudos to the Nigerian soldiers who fought gallantly with limited resources? Some are even facing a laughable court martial for desertion when they were left with nothing more than bow and arrows to tackle the behemoth with miniscule insurance for their families in the eventuality of the inevitable. These soldiers deserved praise from one of their own. Their morale was killed on that Friday.
There were over fourty global leaders in attendance but nothing was said of a robust foreign policy or bilateral relations. Is Africa still the centre piece of our foreign policy in the view of the recent nauseating xenophobia? Are we still going to continue playing our big brother role with no clear cut political or economic interests? In view of the drastically falling prices of crude oil in the global market, how is our foreign policy responding to the demands of the new times?
Many times especially those of the All Progressive Congress are yet to pay the salaries of the civil servants. It is so bad that an Osun state civil servant attempted to commit suicide because he couldn’t meet his financial obligations to his family. The party has already promised Nigerians the payment of a stipend of 5000 naira monthly to the poorest twenty five million citizens. The General didn’t openly empathize with this disadvantaged people who earnestly gave him their votes. We didn’t hear any strategy of how to address this national embarrassment and ensure it never happens again. If civil servants who are in service can’t get their just remunerations, what about the pensioners? Many have been staging peaceful protests nationwide to draw attention to their plight.
The eagerly awaited action of what his administration will do with regards to the scandal ridden NNPC was left unsaid and the power sector crisis was largely ignored. These sectors are pivotal to the daily existence of Nigerians and it’s sad that the ‘repented’ democrat did not deem it fit to bare his mind on these grey areas.
The anti-climax was the phrase he has now made popular ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody’. This was discovered to have been taken out of Eric Burdon’s hit song, ‘Out of Nowhere’ without due credit being assigned to the artiste. Plagiarism on an inauguration is extremely ludicrous.
The General is not known to be gifted with the gift of the garb like Maitama Sule or Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who was nicknamed the golden voice. Let us hope that like the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was not an orator in the mould of Azikiwe, Mbadiwe or Samuel Akintola, he replicates what he did at the centre since they both belong to the progressive school of thought.