MILLIONS of Nigerians were shocked and disappointed on May 29, 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari refused to make an inauguration speech after he was sworn-in for a second term in Abuja. That was a serious slight on a hallowed democratic tradition observed all over the world, even in countries with entrenched dictatorships.
Nigerians were left on their own to guess what might have gone wrong. Some defenders of the President, while admitting not to know exactly the reason for that strange snub of expectant Nigerians, guessed it was probably in line with the regime’s forewarning that this year’s inauguration would be low-keyed.
Some guessed that the President decided to postpone his speech until the new Democracy Day of June 12, 2019. None of these can serve as a viable excuse for what happened. A five-minute speech would not have removed the low-key from the event.
Inauguration Day is different from Democracy Day. Inauguration Day is a milestone ceremony ushering a leader to the seat of power to which he has been elected or re-elected by the supreme will of the people.
It is a day for him to thank them for choosing him to serve, an opportunity for the leader to open his goodie bag and unfold his strategies for delivering on his campaign promises.
Buhari missed an opportunity to tell Nigerians how far he went with his Three-Point Agenda: the Economy, Security and Anti-Graft war, in the past four years; and how he intends to take it to the “Next Level” in the next four years.
He missed the opportunity to recharge the sagging morale of the nation where, out of extreme poverty, unemployment and depression bred by growing hopelessness, many youths are committing suicide or resorting to evil and violent means of survival such as kidnapping, terrorism, ritual killings, Yahoo-Yahoo and others.
The President missed an opportunity to rekindle the hopes of Nigerians in the capacity of his government and the armed forces to protect them from armed groups such as bandits, herdsmen, Boko Haram and cultists. He should have given us something to hold him by as we embrace the next four years under his stewardship. Instead, he left us with nothing.
Democracy Day, June 12, 2019, will be a different kettle of fish. It will be a day to examine how our democracy has fared with a view to strengthening our institutions for better service delivery.
It will be a day to remember those who struggled to free us from military dictatorship and pay tribute to those who made the supreme sacrifices. It will have little or nothing to do with how the President intends to serve us in the next four years.
That speechless inauguration was rather unfortunate!