New Telegraph

The October Presidential broadcast: Matters arising

In his nationwide radio and television broadcast on the occasion of Nigeria’s 61st Independence anniversary on October 1, President Muhammadu Buhari admitted that in recent times life had become hellish in the country.

 

“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,”

 

Buhari remarked. He appealed to Nigerians to embrace peace regardless of their grievances while vowing to apprehend those behind the agitations for self-determination.

 

The ex-military Head of State blamed the agitations on those he referred to as “evil persons” and urged media houses to move away from reporting what he claimed were ”irresponsible remarks to investigating the truth behind all statements and presenting the facts to readers.”

 

New Telegraph commends Buhari for the admission that all has not been well with Nigerians for some time now and going ahead to liken the harsh conditions to the experiences of the populace, especially during the civil war, which started on July 6,1967 and ended on January 15,1970.

 

His appeal for peace, if actualized, will help propel the country to continue to make giant strides in the different sectors.

 

It is indeed a sad commentary that the conditions in a country at peacetime would degenerate to a level as horrible as what Nigerians experienced, especially those in the South East.

 

This is a clear indication that some of the policies and programmes were either not properly conceived or diligently executed in a manner that reflected justice, equity and fairness.

 

In a democracy like Nigeria, the populace, as is the case in other democracies all over the world, has a right to free speech which could be done either through suggestions, criticisms, protests or agitations.

 

The people have taken advantage of each of the opportunities to ventilate their grievances. In other democracies, the protesting or agitating citizens are given adequate security cover to enable them to stretch their protests or agitations to the hilt.

 

But the reverse is usually the case in Nigeria. They would be required to obtain a police permit, which may be turned down and even if the people insist on protesting they are either halted by police. We find it improper that individuals complaining either through criticisms, protests or agitations could be regarded as threatening the peace of Nigeria.

 

What is the scope and extent of peace in Nigeria? Peace does not exist in a vacuum. Peace is ushered in by the presence of justice, equity and fairness. “The feeling of the denial of these will expectedly result in ill-feelings, protests and agitations, which is the case with Nigeria.

 

The agitations led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, were prompted by perceived injustice, inequality and unfairness.

 

Our delight over Mr President’s declaration that some terrorists have surrendered to the superior firepower of the security forces is profound. But this joy is eclipsed  by his failure to utter a word on the Federal Government’s resolve to prosecute the surrendered terrorists, unmask their sponsors and bring them to justice through a diligently executed litigation.

 

The mere act of surrender by some terrorists is not enough and can never be. The complete silence on the attacks on communities across Nigeria by persons suspected to be cattle breeders is unacceptable.

 

They should be apprehended and prosecuted. The blame on the middlemen and women for the high cost of food items is rather misplaced.

We agree with Mr. President that some middlemen and women have contributed to the high cost of food items. But the poor food situation is mainly a byproduct of the grossly reduced agricultural activities caused by large scale insecurity and inadequate logistic support by the government.

 

The use of “evil persons” by the country’s leader to refer to Nigerians, who clamour for justice, equity and fairness was indecorous, to say the least. Democracy confers on the populace the right to free speech expressed through suggestions, criticisms, protests and agitations.

 

Equally indecorous was the use of the expression “irresponsible “to refer to the comments by the different stakeholders regarding the actions and inactions of government functionaries and institutions.

 

Expressions such as “evil persons” and “irresponsible “have the ringing impact of the hate speeches which the government dreads like wildfire but unfortunately appear to promote, as has been illustrated in the October 1 Independence Anniversary Presidential Broadcast.

 

We recall that Mr. President and his supporters, then in the opposition, extensively used the traditional and social media vigorously while campaigning for the 2015 General Election.

 

Criticisms and hate speeches were hauled not only at the then government but also at the office and person of the then President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, who took all the criticisms and hate speeches directed at him with philosophical calmness.

 

New Telegraph urges Mr. President to institutionalize justice, equality and fairness, which are usually fore-runners to peace, it is a sheer waste of time to force peace on the populace as such rarely lasts but with deliberate and conscious efforts at enthroning justice, equality and fairness among the citizens, enduring peace will be ushered into the country.

 

Terrorists who have been arrested or have reportedly surrendered should be subjected to diligent prosecution instead of referring to them as “repentant” individuals and re-absorbing them into the normal society.

 

Towns, local government and state governments should be in the driver’s seat of agriculture while the Federal Government fully concentrates on fiscal and monetary policies among others.

We believe that subsequent presidential addresses should be purged of indecorous expressions for one of the yardsticks for measuring a well-crafted and superbly delivered one is a demonstrable dose and flow of courteous, persuasive, soul-lifting and classless expressions punctuated with “My fellow countrymen.”

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