Criticism yesterday trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s 59th independence anniversary broadcast to the nation for not meeting the expectations of Nigerians.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described the speech as an insult to Nigerians and a mockery of the country’s national integrity as an independent state.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the Buhari’s speech was “completely unpresidential, lacking in patriotic stance and replete with manifest inconsistencies, contradictions, paradoxes and false performance claims” which further confirmed that “our dear fatherland is in wrong hands.”
Particularly, the PDP noted that “President Buhari, in his recorded address, failed to forcefully address the key issues of freedom, social justice, constitutional order, separation of powers, rule of law, human rights, credible elections, national cohesion, accountability and transparency in government; the very fundamentals of an independent state, because his administration has violated them all.”
The opposition party expressed regret that “President Buhari had no forceful reassurances on the challenge of escalated insecurity” on his watch.
According to the party, Buhari had “no clear-cut and operable blueprint to revamp our economy, which his administration wrecked in a period of four years, resulting in so much hardship and despondency that Nigerians now resort to suicide and slavery abroad as options.”
“Our party notes that this address further exposes that the Buhari presidency is not interested in nation building; that it is completely disconnected from the people and remains insensitive to the plights of Nigerians.” the statement added.
According to the PDP, the president has only succeeded in further demonstrating that his administration is, indeed, in no position to deliver a credible, acceptable and satisfactory independence address.
“This is so because under the Buhari Presidency, our nation has experienced the worst form of division, deprivation, human right abuse, constitutional violations, disregard to rule of law, electoral malpractices, disobedience to a court order, disrespect for separation of powers and curtailing of press freedom.”
The PDP alleged that the nation was losing her voice and due regard in the international arena as the administration had remained lacking in the required capacity and boldness to forcefully engage other world leaders on critical issues.
“The dearth in foreign direct investment and the inhuman treatments being meted out to our citizens in countries where we were once held in very high esteem, are some of the injuries our nation is suffering under the Buhari administration. It is depressing that while other leaders motivate their citizens on a day like this, President Buhari is presenting uninspiring claims, propaganda and empty promises,” the party stated.
The Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, and a former presidential candidate of the National Action Council (NAC), Dr. Olapade Agoro, also flayed the broadcast.
In separate statements made available to The Telegraph in Ibadan yesterday, the duo described the speech as lacking hope.
Olajide said: “The speech is full of platitudes without any hope of a radical change from the status quo. The next few weeks will point to the result-oriented minor changes in the administration will bring. The administration has not demonstrated the necessary courage to factor the ordinary Nigerian into its economic programme.
“The speech still shows the government as political leadership that is elite-centred. Some progress has been made admittedly on the insurgency, but as long as the economy remains in the doldrums with poverty ravaging the people security will remain a challenge.
“It is difficult for me to applaud their war against corruption, with some principal officials of the administration being arraigned for corruption This means that even some senior officials do not share the objective of their principal. The speech is deficient in human capital development, health and education “.
To Agoro,” There is nothing that can be seen from the president’s independence broadcast than promises in the dark alleys of hopelessness. Buhari’s promise box reveals the emptiness of elusive dreams. The best to hope for is what can be made available in the individual kitty to offer for self-maximal development as an input of national growth.
“Nigerians have an onerous duty to make conscious efforts to self- development as inputs of national growth for the nation to arrive at the reality of our 59 years journey of independence. It is a shame that at age 59, we are still toddlers depending on help from nowhere than foreigners.
“At 59, noticeably, all our development needs and materials of growth are not home-made but foreign-sourced, making us poppers and stingrays. We Nigerians have traditionally developed in the art of deceit and self-delusion, denying ourselves the right of place in the international podium of respect and honours.”
The National Chairman of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu, and the spokesman, Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin in separate telephone interviews with The Telegraph accused President Buhari of leaving the substance to address the shadow in his Independence Day address.
According to Afenifere, “Rather than President Buhari addressing cogent issues of disunity and insecurity, he was busy talking about N-Power and other insignificant issues that cannot take the country anywhere.”
The group said the country had been more divided along ethnic lines since Buhari came to office in 2015 and that the situation had continued to degenerate based on his polices.
Odumakin also flayed the government’s anti-corruption fight, saying the last cabinet put in place by the administration did not portray it as serious about tackling graft. “The majority of those that made the cabinet have one corruption case or the other hanging on their necks. Nigeria is under serious threats and the president is speaking about mundane matters,” he said.
The ADC chairman said the address was deliberate propaganda by Buhari to cajole Nigerians to accept the failures of his administration and his party, APC. He dismissed the address as lacking the necessary substance that could have brought hope to Nigerians.
“Buhari failed to address the worsening state of security. Boko Haram insurgency is fast-taking control of the North-East states, especially Borno, as against what Buhari claimed as achievements of the military and his government in the zone. Our party has carried out comprehensive research of the security situation in the North East and our position is based on facts. “
Meanwhile, President Buhari yesterday hosted dignitaries to a special military parade and change of guard at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, as part of activities to commemorate the 59th independence anniversary.
The celebration, which was the first in President Buhari’s second term in office, lasted for about one hour and forty-five minutes. It started around 10:00 a.m.
Buhari was ushered to the venue by 9:58 a.m. where he first inspected a special quarter guard mounted by soldiers at the sentry point. He thereafter proceeded to the forecourt to receive the national salute, which was followed by a rendition of the country’s national anthem. Osinbajo was earlier ushered to the venue around 9:50 a.m.
The event, which was devoid of the traditional march past and other such activities that would have taken place if the Eagle Square was to be the venue, climaxed with the special parade by officers and men of the Guards Brigade at the forecourt of the State House, with President Buhari as a special guest of honour.
It was the highpoint of the week-long activities marking the anniversary which ended with President Buhari signing the anniversary register. This was preceded by a release of pigeons by the president who was joined by Osinbajo and the Commander, Guards Brigade, Brig General Mohammed Usman, to signify peace and the country’s unity.
The guests were treated to silent military drills and other displays by soldiers of the 177 and 7 Guards Battalion.
The event was also attended by past leaders, including former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd); former vice president, Namadi Sambo; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Others who were present at the ceremony were the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole; President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko, members of the diplomatic corps, traditional rulers as well as defence attaches.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; and Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume also attended the ceremony.
Since 1st of October, 2010 when the anniversary celebration witnessed bomb blasts at the Eagle Square, Abuja, the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan had marked all subsequent anniversaries under his administration in Aso Rock. But the Buhari’s administration broke the jinx by marking the 58th-anniversary last year at the Eagles Square, Abuja.