INAUGURAL SPEECH Kudos, knocks for Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s May 29, 2015 inaugural speech has continued to generate reactions from local and international leaders. Associate Editor, Sam Egburonu, Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan and Assistant Editor, Remi Adelowo, spoke with some politicians and informed professionals who assessed and commented on the historic speech. 

The May 29, 2015 Inaugural speech of President Muhammadu Buhari has become a window of what the new administration is poised to do for Nigeria and Nigerians in the next four years. As a result, both the international and national leaders, professionals, interest groups and general stakeholders are undertaking diligent scrutiny of the speech. Their reactions are as varied as their interests and expectations. While some respondents, who spoke to The Nation at the weekend, commended the president for the speech, describing it as a good beginning, others pointed out some issues he allegedly left out, advising that as implied in his assurance that he belongs to all, Buhari should do everything to carry the entire nation along for rapid socio-economic and political development.

‘It’s the best inaugural speech in Nigeria’s political history’

-Wahab Shittu, human rights lawyer

My take on the President’s speech is that it is the best inaugural speech in Nigeria’s political history, given the challenges Nigeria is currently faced with. Most fundamentally, the speech captures the essence of the major ills confronting the country, such as the insecurity, pervasiveness of corruption, parlous state of the economy, lack of power and unemployment and how the government under his watch would tackle these challenges.

The president also went down memory lane and spoke about the nation’s founding fathers, their vision, contributions and aspirations for the country, while relating it to the failure of successive leaders to build on the legacy bequeathed by the heroes of our independence.

His declaration that he is for everybody and not for anybody is also very commendable. My interpretation of this is that he is going to run an all-inclusive government devoid of partisanship and not be a stooge to anybody. What that also means is that the entire country is his constituency.

No witch-hunt

On his decision not to witch-hunt anyone or settle old scores, no one should interpret that to mean that the President would not probe proven cases of corruption, because really not settling scores should not mean that clear cases of abuse of office in the immediate past administration would not be investigated.

Boko Haram

The President made a categorical statement on the direction of his government to tackling the menace of Boko Haram in the North-East. By ordering the immediate relocation of the military command structure to the region is very critical and underscores the importance he is attaching to solving the problem once and for all.

What also impressed me is his statement that after the terrorists have been completely subdued, the government would conduct a sociological study on the remote and immediate causes of insurgency, its foreign links and funding with a view to preventing such groups from springing up in the future.


His decision that militancy in the Niger Delta would also be accorded priority attention was also very commendable. In all, the speech was very reassuring, detailed enough, well thought out and well delivered.

It is a very good beginning- Okorie

—Chekwas Okorie is a top politician and UPP presidential candidate in the 2015 elections

The speech captured the major expectations of many informed Nigerians. It started by laying strong foundation on how his democratic profile will be defined when he said he belonged to nobody and belonged to everybody. The assurance implicit in that statement is the fact that he does not have strings attached and that he is not obligated to political investors or cliques that may lay claim to his ascendancy as president. He also reassured all those who may have hurt him in the past that he will not embark in settling scores. It was a very good beginning in the inaugural speech of this nature to prepare and that he will be focused on leadership of the construction and service delivery.

His comments on security situation and directive for the command and Control Centre of the military to relocate to the theatre of the battle in Borno proved his seriousness and determination to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency.

He also described Boko Haram in the strongest terms, which is to show Nigerians that there is nothing Islamist in Boko Haram. That has proved skeptics wrong who had insinuated that he had sympathy for the group on the basis of religious sentiment.

Also re-assuring is the indication that revenue allocation to local governments will not be hijacked by state governments as has been the case over the years.

He did not leave out the more worrisome energy and power supply sector, oil and gas, anti-corruption measures, creation of jobs and employment opportunities.

I want to point out that I feel really glad that he assured the people of Niger Delta that all contracts and other commitments made by the outgoing government to develop the Niger Delta area would be continued by his government. It goes to show that he belongs to all. However, I am a bit worried that the continued neglect of the South-East area, with regard to infrastructural development and federal presence in the area were missing in that very important inaugural speech. I want to cease this opportunity to inform President Buhari that the entire people of South-East still feel, and for good reasons, that the three ‘Rs’- Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation- promised by the Gowon government in 1970, after the war, has been observed in the breech.  We therefore expect that in the change that Nigerians expect, it will help national cohesion and harmony if the peculiar circumstances of the people of the South-East zone receive the special attention and presidential dispensation of the Buhari leadership.

It shows his commitment to survival and unity of Nigeria- Dele  

—Hon. Kosoko Dele, is an APC chieftain in Lagos State and former member of House of Represenattaives


The speech shows President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the survival and unity of Nigeria. He succinctly identified the problems of the country and gave priority to the major issues like power, energy, security and fight against corruption because they are very vital to our economic survival.

I consider the president’s inaugural speech as very powerful. No wonder even international leaders have commended it.

It’s a ray of hope, says human rights lawyer, Fred Agbaje

It is a very inspiring and commendable speech, which gives one a ray of hope that the new government is ready to hit the ground running.

I have no doubt that the President would walk his talk, because he is known to be a man of his words.

Insurgency in North-East

Relocating the Military High Command to the North-East should be applauded. One of the colossal mistakes made by the Goodluck Jonathan-led government was on the bungling of the fight against insurgency in that region.

The resultant effect of this irresponsibility is the escalation of the activities of the Boko Haram group in the last four years, with thousands of lives lost and millions of people displaced from their homes. Our soldiers were also not well motivated and became highly demoralised.

But now that the Service Chiefs have been directed to relocate to the region, the battle has now been taken to the doorsteps of the Boko Haram, which I believe could lead to the quick resolution of the insurgency.

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Though the President made it clear that he would not witch-hunt anyone, that does not mean that he would close his eyes to cases of corruption by officials of the past administration.

There is so much decadence in the country’s political and economic sectors, which requires strong political will to address. I believe very strongly that the new President would look into the monumental graft in the oil and other sectors of the economy.

Speech shows Buhari’s preparedness for the job- Razak

-Lanre Razak is former Deputy National Chairman, defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Lagos APC chieftain

The inaugural speech by President Muhammadu Buhari clearly demonstrates his thorough understanding of the major challenges the country is faced with and his preparedness for the job.

He talked about corruption, insecurity and unemployment, particularly among the youths.

My candid assessment is that if we put the speech in its proper perspective, it shows that the president is determined to actualise his campaign promises and I urge all Nigerians to support him to make his job much easier.

On corruption, the President would not condone this in his administration even if he has promised not to witch-hunt anyone. A lot of people have this perception that he is out to settle scores, so his speech was to give an assurance that witch-hunting anybody would not be his agenda.

The speech lacks depth – Adegboruwa

Frontline Human Rights activist and lawyer, Ebun Adegboruwa, described the President’s speech as lacking in depth considering the very high expectations of the people. According to the legal practitioner, “the President has not addressed the real issues affecting our lives in Nigeria. It would seem that the President is still on the soap box, whereby promises and promises and intentions, are the order. He is the President of Nigeria now and my expectation was that since March 28, 2015, when he won the election, when he received the certificate of return from INEC, when he got assurances from Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, that his election would not be contested, General Buhari would have outlined his main policy direction. But alas, that has not happened today.”

Speaking on specific areas where the President’s speech fell short of expectations, Adegboruwa contended that “the President did not say anything on his foreign policy directive, on issues relating to global warming and climate change, the violence in the Middle East and the general global economic downturn. Also, the President was silent on the mode of tackling corruption, which indeed has been the main thrust of his electioneering campaigns; he was silent on the collapsing aviation sector, he kept mute on the unpaid salaries of millions of workers across the land, the huge debts that the Jonathan administration has bequeathed to him and indeed the main means of generating revenue, to run his government, apart from oil.

Buhari gave no hint on the mode of reform of the judicial system and the administration of justice generally, the expected policy statement on NNPC did not come, and even the Boko Haram insurgency, to which the President devoted most of his speech, ended up in a policy disaster, of cause after effect; in that the President will only know the cause, origin and perspectives of the criminal organisation, only after he has succeeded in killing them all.

In his final analysis, he submitted that the speech is nothing more than “another campaign promise, a general rendition of statements of intention, without action. It was too vague and illusory, like a speech being delivered by a novice in power. This is the President who has ruled this country as a Head of State, through a coup detat in 1983, and one that has sought to rule this nation since 2003, so he had all the time in the world, to have mapped out his cause of action and strategies. This is surely not the speech expected from our GMB.”

Buhari offered hope in his speech – Latinwo

Group Captain Salaudeen Adebola Latinwo (red), former military governor of Kwara State, and a key player during Buhari/Idiagbon administration in 1984/85, has praised the President for giving Nigerians hope in his Presidential address. He then urged the President to match all his words with immediate action.

He hailed the agenda set out by Buhari in his inaugural speech, describing it as a beginning of new things to come. “I have no doubt that the administration will hit the ground running. I also have no doubt that this should mark the true beginning in the kind of the transformation that we need in the area of building our economy, strengthening our democracy and ensuring good governance in this country”.

“Most importantly, I am happy he is ready to tackle the issue of security. With his submission on how best the war on Boko Haram can be won, I think there is hope that the insecurity in some parts of the country would soon be over. The new government must tackle the issue of security, especially the Boko Haram menace in the North-East. A tactical approach is required to rid the country of these elements and as a retired military officer, the President knows what to do. And from his speech, I think he is ready to do all that is necessary to win the war.

A very promising speech – Olowoshile

Comrade Bayo Olowoshile, the General Secretary of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said “the content of the president’s speech is very promising and offers a better future for the people.” Consequently, he promised that the labour would give him needed cooperation in spite of the challenges.

“The speech offers hope to Nigeria as a country. For us in the labour movement, we are going to actually cooperate with him to ensure that Nigeria makes tremendous progress in spite of the challenges ahead.

“On our side as labour unions, we are going to assist him so that he can surmount the challenges ahead for Nigerians to experience real changes in all areas of their endeavour. We want him to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the entire country is carried along in the new government.’’

According to him, for the country to progress, the cooperation of workers is vital.

“I’ve always said Buhari came in on a high moral ground and huge expectations from Nigerians because of his zero tolerance for corruption.

“I think if he could lead by example and all the lieutenants around him follow suit, they will be able to exhibit to Nigerians that they mean well.’’

“Labour will always give support to any government that is sensitive to the plight of workers and to any government that has strategies to ensure full employment to citizenry of our country.

“The support of labour will always be there as long as workers and the general masses are being given policies that could help their well being,’’ he said.



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