When President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Nigeria on Saturday, Nigerians took to the streets in their numbers to welcome the president, who has found a place in the heart of the people regardless of any shortcomings.
Earlier, Femi Adesina, his spokesman, announced that the president would be addressing the nation on Monday morning. Presidential national addresses are not a common feat in Nigeria — if it is not democracy day or a revered public holiday.
Hopes were high that the president would address a myriad of issues bedevilling the nation, and possibly speak about his health. During the six-minute speech, Buhari addressed the contentious issue of secession, Boko Haram crisis, herdsmen menace and other forms of insecurity across the country.
But were expectations cut short?
Here are five things the president skillfully avoided:
RESUME OR RESIGN
While the president was away, a group of “concerned Nigerians” took to the streets of Abuja and New York to seek his resignation or resumption. The group, led by Charles Oputa, a musician, were hindered by the Nigerian police and also attacked in Wuse market, Abuja.
Less than a week after the protests were suspended, the president resumed, but his aides said his resumption was not as a result of the protest. As expected, the president did not dignify the protesters with any response in his national address.
This year, the president has been out of the country for at least 150 days on two medical vacations with no knowledge of what is wrong with the president. On March 10 when he returned to the country at the end of his first vacation, Buhari spoke about his health, even though he did not go into details. This time around, the president chose to be silent about it.
As the prime public officer in the country, Buhari has been asked a number of times to state what exactly is wrong with him, but he has refused. He has also not been transparent about the cost of his treatment.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, had said the terms of Buhari’s treatment should not be disclosed for moral and national security reasons.
“This matter (the president’s medical bill) has come several times and our position is quite straight forward,” he had said.
“We believe that asking for how much has been spent on the health of the president is an issue that we should weigh very well, both for national security and also for moral issues. I don’t know why we must divulge such very sensitive information.
Over the past week, Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, said “I do not know who is paying, but as a president, he has a right to be treated by the country”.
Yes, Buhari has the right to be treated by the country, but he is expected to be transparent.
IS BUHARI COMPROMISING ON CORRUPTION?
This is perhaps the first speech in forever that The President Muhammadu Buhari did not mention corruption. Can you believe that the president spoke for nearly five minutes and did not mention corruption once? Unlike Buhari.
While the president was, there were a lot of drama around the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the the office of the attorney general of the federation.
TheCable reported that the attorney-general, Abubakar Malami, was accusing EFCC’s Ibrahim Magu of breaching section 10(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Enforcement) Regulations 2010. The drama was downplayed by the EFCC as corruption fighting back.
The national assembly had also mounted a stiff opposition against Magu’s continued existence as EFCC chairman. In the same vein, the NIA and SGF probe also came to crescendo when the president was away.
President Buhari did not say a word on any of the anti-corruption issues above or any other one in the nation. Is Buhari compromising on corruption?
BUHARI WAS POISONED?
There are rumours in a region of the country that the president was poisoned by some of his political “frenemies”. This unfounded rumours posses the ability of putting the nation on the edge.
It was expected that the president will lay the rumours to rest. But to do that, the president may have to disclose the nature of his ailment, which he is clearly not ready to cede to public scrutiny, hence the silence on this rumour.
This rumour may fester on, or die a natural death.
THE ECONOMY AND WORST RECESSION IN 29 YEARS
Nigerian has been in a recession for over 12 months. The country was expected to to edge out of recession in the second quarter of 2017, but with National Bureau of Statistics GDP report in the works, no one can say for sure that Nigeria is out of recession.
In March, he launched the economic recovery and growth plan (ERGP), but no implementation followed in nearly four months.
Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said at the last MPC meeting that Nigeria may “relapse into a protracted recession” if bold steps are not taken.
The president was expected to adress this, but he glossed over the economy, as he spoke broadly on economic security.
What more did you expect the president to address that he did not? Let’s have your thoughts.
Although many people have been blaming the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for its incessant strike, the father of the nation ought to have reassured the hundreds of thousands of undergraduates affected by this action of his commitment to get them back to the classroom.
Education is key, it should be on the front burner and the leader of the nation ought to always see students as a priority.
It’s good to have the president back. One can only hope that what he would touch these issues and many more in the days ahead.