President Buhari’s Inaugural Speech ,By Issa Aremu

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With less than 2000 presidential words (precisely 1,932!) after his historic oath taking on Friday 29th May, 2015 as the 4th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this democratic dispensation, President Muhammadu Buhari’s goes down as the most brief but all inclusive inaugural address. The inaugural speech of President Olusegun Obasanjo following his swearing-in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 1999 almost passed for a seminal paper; almost 3000 word counts. Indeed a booklet! With President Buhari are we to witness a new era of minimum presidential word counts but maximum governance impact? I join millions of Nigerians and our well wishers world wide, to congratulate our new President, on his successful inauguration witnessed by scores of world leaders that included President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Secretary of State of United States of America, John Kerry. By the way,  as a cyclist myself I convey my sympathy to the Secretary of State John Kerry who reportedly had a bicycle accident in France yesterday, a day after he left Abuja presidential inauguration.

Ben Okri is the Nigerian legendary Booker Prize – winning author of many books. In A Way of Being Free ,he reminded of us that;  “… our days are poisoned with too many words.  Words said and not meant… Wounding words.  Words that conceal… Dead words’.  Presidential Words said and not meant are countless in Nigeria.  Some samples of bagful of bagful of presidential include: Health for all by year 2000, reducing poverty by half by 2015 under the Millennium Development Goals MDGs. Are we to witness minimum words spoken but meant by President Muhammed Buhari? There is no doubt about it; his inaugural address is brief but significantly profound for national renewal. It is remarkable that the President frontally named some national problems. It is only by naming the problems that we can shame and tame these problems. On the persistent power outages and perennial darkness, yours comradely agrees with President Buhari that it is indeed ” …a  shame that with over $20bn investment in the power sector since 1999, Nigeria generates less than 4,000 mw”. All Nigerians should partner with the new President to realize the vision of uninterrupted power supply.  Without electricity there can be no industrialization. The promise and expectation that the President will revive textile industry is not possible without electricity. It is remarkable that President Buhari recognizes the role of non-state institutions such as labour unions, organized private sector, the press and civil society organizations in the great task of national renewal. The President must work his presidential words by engaging the sector unions in the energy and electricity sectors. The National Union of Electricity workers union (NUEE) had long pointed out that privatization without massive public investment in the sector will only deepen our worsening power poverty. We all witness that power supply has not improved even with privatization and criminal hike in tariff without services.

It is also commendable that President Buhari has promised to reform and re-build the public service and check gross corruption in the states and local governments. My take here is that public sector Reform should ensure greater service delivery and productivity and not lead to job losses in an already depressed labour market characterized by high unemployment. The challenges of development in Nigeria call for more jobs in both public and private sectors of the economy.

It is significant that President Buhari in his speech dammed terrorism masquerading as religion. The President rightly described Boko Haram “as a mindless group whose philosophy is very far from the tenets of Islam” even as he pledged to revamp the military’s rule of engagement.  All Nigerians must necessarily key into this informed renewed war against senseless violence that has claimed thousands of lives. Did I hear the President saying;”At the end of the hostilities when the group is subdued the Government intends to commission a sociological study to determine its origins, remote and immediate causes of the movement, its sponsors, the international connexions to ensure that measures are taken to prevent a recurrence of this evil”? Good idea for government to appreciate the theoretical underpinning of terrorism.

However President Buhari should depart from his predecessors and learn to patronize national institutions. The national institute for Policy and Strategic studies (NIPPS) Kuru Jos is there. There is no singular policy issue from revival of Textile industry to combating terrorism that has not been studied. The president should  ask the director General of NIPPS to avail him of the conclusions of these studies as well as the implementation strategies.  Lastly I salute the president for bringing back history and critically concluded that in “recent times Nigerian leaders appear to have misread our mission”. He must bring back the great legacies of selflessness of the founding fathers he mentioned in his speech namely; Mr Herbert Macauley, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief J.S. Tarka, Mr Eyo Ita, Chief Denis Osadeby, Chief Ladoke Akintola and their colleagues who worked to establish certain standards of governance. I however thought that he should have quoted any of these great African leaders instead of some mind-boggling quotes from a 16th century English  Shakespeare’s character Julius Caesar. Once again congrats President Buhari.


Issa Aremu, mni

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