By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon & Dirisu Yakubu
Nigerians yesterday reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day broadcast,with some showering him praises while others gave him hard knocks.
It didn’t address our problems — Afenifere
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said it was more of a campaign outing because it failed to address the issues confronting the country.
Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “The speech of the President on June 12 is more of a campaign outing. Where he should be giving reports of achievements, it was about declarations of intentions and promises of action. If you have failed to address corruption, security and economy in five years, what magic do you want to perform in one year? One year because the last two years would be about the politics of next elections. We do not see any concrete steps on the ground for future success. All we see leads to failure.”
National Publicity Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, Chief Ayo Opadokun, shared Afenifere’s views adding that the broadcast was aspirational.
Opadokun said: “All that the president has said are aspirational, he has not addressed any of the issues. For instance, the State of the Economy has not witnessed any significant and qualitative upliftment as a result of the centralist and unitary governance.
“To compound the matter, the President and his government also failed in his promise to trim government bureaucracy in order to reduce the cost of governance. As we speak today, Nigeria’s recurrent expenditure remains between 75% -80% of the country’s total earning. How can the Nigerian State justifies the disproportionate pay and emoluments of politicians in the midst of abject poverty of most Nigerians?
“Unemployment is still intolerably high while the standard of living of our people remains intolerably poor. In spite of the social investment programme, Trader money, N-Power projects e.t.c., the latest indicators of the world body on Human Development Index put Nigeria within the bracket of the World War ravaged areas— Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan and others in that category. Given the Godly endowment of Nigeria in Human and Natural resources, Nigeria, and its citizens deserve better qualitative lives.”
It falls short of expectation—Junaid Mohammed
On his part, Second Republic politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed slammed the President’s speech saying it fell short of expectation.
Mohammed said: “As far as I am concerned, where a president has been elected and has not been able to fulfil his promises and then, he is rehashing his campaign promises expecting that people will believe him, I think it is an insult to the intelligence of the people of the country. If he (Buhari) said he has delivered on his promises, has he delivered on what he promised on security? As far as I am concerned, he has not.
“Also, he has not been able to deliver as far the economy is concerned. I don’t believe that the country is in a stable situation. I have a saying as a Muslim and this comes directly from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He said: ‘If you are shameless, do what you like, say what you want.’
“To me, for a person in such a position to make a statement which was written for him which is not true, is trying to completely diminish the country, diminish the government and diminish whatever it is that we call democracy.
“Democracy is not a licence to tell lies to your own people. If you can open your mouth and give a false account to the people, to me, you have contempt for the people you are governing. If a leader has contempt for the people he is governing, then, we are in very serious trouble.
“No matter how prosperous a nation is and no matter how stable it pretends to be, if it does not have political stability, there is no way it can be prosperous or secured.
In addition to failing to deliver on the economy, the fact is the APC is the principal source of political instability because it is completely divided against itself. There is nothing like internal democracy and it has become more of a cabal.”
Buhari’s June 12 broadcast, a slap on democracy—PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, described President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day address as a huge and unpardonable slap on the face of the nation’s democratic process.
This is as the party noted that President Buhari’s silence on the values of democracy as well as the myriads of violations under his watch “has further vindicated its stance and that of majority of Nigerians that the Buhari administration has no regard for democracy and is not prepared to uphold its tenets in our country.”
In a statement issued yesterday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP noted that “on the day Mr. President himself set aside to celebrate democracy, he had no democratic scorecard to present; thereby directly confirming that he had taken no step to uphold democratic practice in the last five years.”
This statement further read: “Our party invites Nigerians to note that Mr. President’s speech had no space for Chief MKO Abiola. This only goes to show that the Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress, APC, have no regard for Chief Abiola and the essence of June 12, but only used their nomenclature to gain selfish political capital.
“It is scandalous that on a day like this, President Buhari had no assurances on electoral reforms and credible election; which is the hallmark of democracy.
“President Buhari’s failure to express any commitments to electoral reform in his 38-minute pre-recorded address shows that his administration has no plans to guarantee credible elections in our country.
“Also, Mr. President had no words of assurance towards respect for our constitution, particularly the principles of separation of powers, federal character, equality, equity, fairness, transparency and respect for the sensibilities of our federal structure.
“Furthermore, President Buhari had no words of commitment on how to tackle the constitutional and human rights violations under his watch, including reported intimidation and brutalization of citizens, disobedience to court orders, arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, extra-judicial killings as well as hounding of opposition and dissenting voices.
“Rather, Mr. President and his handlers sought to divert attention from their failures and violations associated with this administration by taking the nation on a merry-go-round of recycled false performance claims that are not backed by any empirical or verifiable data.
“By this speech, President Buhari failed to appreciate that the progress of any nation is hinged on credible elections, equity, justice and adherence to rule of law.
“Moreover, Nigerians have been at shock that while bandits were busy killing our compatriots in Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Borno, Kogi and various parts of our nation, even on the eve of his broadcast, President Buhari was claiming that his government had secured the nation.
“It is even more distressing that Mr. President opted to use the COVID-19 pandemic to make excuses for the attack by the bandits even as he had no soothing words or decisive assurances for the victims beyond a cold passing comment lacking in expected human empathy.
On his part, constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Mike Ozekhome said the performance claims by President Buhari were laughable.
“Well, may be we are living in different countries. If it’s the same Nigeria, I think his scorecard is fundamentally flawed. The figures and facts don’t add up. On the fight against corruption, the Transparency International in January, 2020,rated Nigeria as number 146 least corrupt nation in the world, out of 180 surveyed, under the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index,” he said.
Executve Director, Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Ibrahim Auwal Rafsanjani, like Ozekhome faulted the claims of Buhari, especially the President’s stand on the fight against corruption and road projects completion statistics.
He said: “Mr. President just read a speech that was written for him by some people who don’t want him to know the truth. It is not possible for him to go round and verify all these claims.
“The level of insecurity even in his hometown is enough to tell you that the problem of insecurity is still a major challenge and concern. The level of insecurity and corruption remain high given the frequency of arrest and prosecution being done by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC. It is laughable for government to score itself high in the fight against corruption.
“On the 64 per cent road projects completion claim, I will advice the President to have an independent way of monitoring and confirming these things they often write for him, otherwise, he would be ridiculing himself,” Rafsanjani told this medium.