Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday night finally addressed Nigerians over the #ENDSARS protests that have gone violent and caused destruction in various parts of the country.
Nigeria has been rocked by #EndSARS protests carried out by the youth protesting against police brutality and urging the President to address the nation in a live broadcast on reaction to the carnage that greeted the protest.
But Nigerians were not satisfied with the speech as they said it lacked sympathy, empathy, and feelings for those who have been affected by the violent protests.
The President failed to condole the kin of citizens who died or were injured during the incidents across the country, while he paid tribute to the officers of the Nigeria Police Force who lost their lives during the period.
Although the President said that he was pained to see how the innocent lives were lost, there was no one paragraph to condole with those who died or their family members.
Part of the speech read, “I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.”
While addressing the nation, President Buhari began his speech by warning those who have hijacked and misdirected the initial, genuine and well-intended protest of the youth in parts of the country to stop.
“In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos to truncate our nascent democracy.”
“For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated,” he continued.
He noted that it is a fundamental right for any citizen to protest, adding, this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.
Buhari who stated that innocent lives have been lost did not console the families of the dead but said that “these tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary.”
He further lamented that a lot of atrocities were committed in the name of #ENDSARS protests while pointing out that some citizens spread misinformation deliberately through social media in order to mislead people that the government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens.
“The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalized,” the President added.
“The sanctity of the Palace of a Peace Maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country”, he said.
In the speech, the President stated that his administration is committed to the well-being and welfare of the citizens while he read out measures and initiatives put in place by the government targeted at youth, women, and the most vulnerable groups in the society.
“No Nigerian Government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation as we have done,” he stated.
He stressed that the government is committed to preserving the unity of the country and would continue to improve good governance and democratic process, including sustained engagement.
Responses to the President’s Address
When the President’s broadcast was announced, there were high expectations from the people regarding what the broadcast would contain.
The people had looked forward to strong statements, condemnation, and probe into the activities of the security operatives, compensation packages for the families of those deceased, and an apology to Nigerians. Unfortunately, they were disappointed when the President’s address contained none of the aforesaid.
A lot of Nigerians took to the social space to air their disappointments.
A Nigerian Influencer, Reno Omokri expressed his disappointment over the speech frowning at how the President chose to praise his achievements over consoling with those who lost their lives during the protests across the country.
Omokri who worked with the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan took to his Twitter page after the speech and wrote, “General @MBuhari’s speech was disappointing. It set a new world record for most lies told in 10 minutes. He said “No past government approached poverty alleviation as we have done.
“I don’t know what is wrong with General @MBuhari. Very buffoonish. Mentioning the vandalism of the Oba’s palace, which is bad, but failing to mention the killings of innocent, unarmed, peaceful, National Anthem singing #EndSARS protesters at Lekki. Silence would have been better!”
A Former Senator from Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani on his Twitter page wrote, “You ask for speech, you got the speech and now you are speechless.”
Another former Senator from Kogi state, Dino Malaye wrote on his Twitter wall, “The speech of the president made me speechless. Mennnnnn I tire oooo. Recommending panadol for cancer is suicidal. SDM”
Some Nigerian celebrities have also expressed disappointment over the address by the President.
Nigeria Popular Singer, Adekunle Gold, on his Twitter handle wondered why the President did not mention the Lekki shootings.
“Wait what?!! My heart cannot take this! My God! I’m dazed!; We all have one common challenge and it’s our bad leaders, not our fellow brothers and sisters,” Gold tweeted.
An On-Air Personality (OAP) Toolz on her Twitter handle also tweeted, “Did he actually not mention the #LekkitollgateMassacre? There weren’t subtitles so I’m not sure #EndSARS.”
A former Minister of the previous administration, Femi-Fani Kayode tweeted, “Buhari’s speech was an insult to our people, a disgrace to humanity and a stench in the nostrils of God.
“He is not warm, he is cold. He is not kind, he is cruel. He is not empathetic, he is sociopathic. He is not a President, he is a dictator. He is not a man, he is a monster. He has issued his threat and served his warning. It is left to the Nigeria people to either stand down, bow their heads in shame, tuck their tail between their legs and run away or stand up, hold their heads up high, knuckle down, dig deep, insist on their rights and refuse to budge.”
Comic Side of the Reaction to the Speech
Nigerians took to Twitter with various hashtag which is trending to display the comic side of their disappointment.
Hash-tags like “Japa,” “Nigeria Prevails,” “passport,” “gofundme,” “itisnotfinished,” etc. among others trended on Twitter.
Also, there have been funny graphics and pictures making rounds depicting how to leave the country following the speech of the President.