Mr. President’s Inaugural Speech – A Review | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Mr. President’s Inaugural Speech – A Review

Posted: Jun 4, 2015 at 12:54 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The entire world was here. Nature had foreseen it, symbolized by the rain that fell the previous night, calming the weather to make Abuja hospitable to the guests from all corners of the world who had converged on Nigeria’s capital city to witness what many considered – still consider – a new beginning for the world’s most populated black country. Everyone, especially those familiar with state protocols, grasped the import of the ceremonies, but may not have grasped the purport and importance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech. In fact, if there were bated breaths or not too many banters and exchange of pleasantries, it was not because the distinguished men and women at the Eagle Square venue of the historic inauguration of President Buhari lacked humour or were pretentious. Far from it. It was because each and every one of them – like the rest of us who were not privileged to be there and, indeed, the rest of the world – was anxiously waiting to hear Buhari’s first speech after receiving the reins of government from Dr.Goodluck Jonathan.

That moment came immediately after he was sworn in by Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, at 10:50 a.m. on Friday, May 29, 2015. Did the speech meet the expectations of Nigerians and the world at large? I would say yes, it did. It started by acknowledging that the inauguration day was a triumph for Nigeria. Indeed, for a country that had hitherto refused to take the lead in the building of the foundation for a self-reliant and self-sustaining continent, that day was triumphal and celebratory. For a President who can be said to be the very first to be truly democratically elected in Nigeria, who can be called an unblemished product of the polls and the peoples’ will and choice, the expression of deep gratitude to God and Nigerians in the speech was appropriate and pertinent.

Of the several sound bites and talking points of the speech, one extract remains outstanding:

“Having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians.

I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”

In those two related and inseparable sentences, Mr. President summarized and cast in stone the expectations of Nigerians. Nigerians desire a President who will keep to the oath of office and be fair and just to everyone. Surrendering the office of the President to a few individuals not only breaches the oath of office but also undermines the exalted office, establishing a wide gulf and disconnect between the office and the people. If there was ever one thing that the masses would never forgive past governments for, it was the yielding of the office of the President to a few individuals who in turn used it for their selfish ends. This explains why Nigeria features such an expansive disparity between the poor – who live on their sweat and grits – and the rich, who live on government.  The promise to break away from that vicious cycle was indeed gratifying to Nigerians and welcoming to everyone that is anxious to see Nigeria develop and grow.

The next paragraph, however, gave me – and, I believe, the majority of Nigerians – some worries.  There is the urgent need to make some clarifications on the promise not to go after certain people who had expressed the fear that Mr. President would go after them. If that statement is addressed to the likes of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), who overthrew him (Buhari) some thirty years ago, or such foul-mouthed, misguided chaps like Ayodele Fayose and Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigerians would really cheer Mr. President for such a compassionate spirit. If it is, however, meant to shield the crooks who have looted the resources of this country, I will say NO! The past cannot be a prologue concerning those odious characters. The open wounds of corruption and official robbery can only be healed by probes that will make them disgorge such ill-gotten wealth in public and set a standard of probity for the future.

The appreciations and assurances given to our African brothers and international friends and associates are apt. So also is the undertaking to confront the challenges of insecurity, corruption, fuel and power shortages, unemployment, poor education standards, the Niger Delta, and the promise not to ignore mismanagement of public resources by State and Local Governments. The call for the media to be patriotic partners, like the pledge to use the opportunities in the agricultural and mining sectors to address unemployment, is quite timely.

In all, the President’s inaugural speech delivered great pointers to great greats to come.