Posted by News Express | 21 October 2020 | 671 times
After much prodding, President Muhammadu Buhari has addressed the nation in the aftermath of the brutal assault on harmless ENDSARSNOW protesters last Tuesday.
That assault by soldiers led to the death of yet-to-be-identified number of protestors in many parts of the country, leading to further widespread demonstrations all over, this time violently, leading to more loss of lives and properties as security agents tried to bring the situation under control.
Those who felt that frayed nerves would be calmed if the president addressed the nation must have been disappointed by his belated address that lacked every sense of regret and empathy.
Buhari started by saying he decided to speak because he had heard from “many concerned Nigerians”. Otherwise, maybe he wouldn’t have spoken! That is not good enough.
The next paragraph was worse: It was a warning to those whom he said had “hijacked and misdirected the initial, genuine and well-intended protest...”
After beating his chest in the next four paragraphs, the president returned in the 7th paragraph to warn again that its “prompt” response to the protesters demands was “misconstrued as a sign of weakness...”
Buhari teed off again to reel out a long list of his “achievements” before warning again in the 17th paragraph that his government’s “commitment to preserving the unity of this country” is inviolate.
He returned to warn again in paragraph 23 that “under no circumstances” will anything that undermines national security be tolerated.
He returned again in the last paragraph to warn that his government “will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation.”
Only in one place (paragraph 9) did the president glibly say that he was “indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost.”
He never made any reference to the youth demonstrators who were mowed down in cold blood whereas he specifically paid “tribute to officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.”
Apart from those in his circles, it is hard to see those who will salute the president for this speech.
Those who thought the president would not only be presidential but would also speak like a father have been disappointed.
The president chose instead to speak tough, like the no nonsense military dictator that he once was.
Whether such a tough stance is what is needed at this point in time remains to be seen.
•Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin is President, Women Arise and Centre for Change.
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