On Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians in commemoration of the 2018 Democracy Day.
The president talked about his administration’s achievements regarding the economy, fight against corruption and the war to end Boko Haram insurgency.
But he made no mention of pertinent issues such as Leah Sharibu, who is still in Boko Haram custody, and the ongoing strike of health workers in the country.
Here is a rundown of salient issues of national concern which were missing in the president’s speech:
Sharibu has been in Boko Haram custody for 99 days, but that is not what makes her case peculiar. She was the only Christian girl among the 112 kidnapped from their school — Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state — by Boko Haram members on February 19.
She turned 15 on May 14 while still in captivity.
Although Buhari has not been silent on efforts being made to ensure she is released, his Democracy Day address would have been a perfect reminder – at least to Sharibu’s parents – that all hope is not lost and that their daughter would return home.
Health workers’ strike
Surprisingly, Buhari ended his speech without a mention of the ongoing strike by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) that has left many in need of healthcare stranded.
The industrial action, now in its 42nd day, has paralysed many government hospitals. Nigerians – especially those who have borne the brunt of it – would have been hoping to hear from the president about the efforts being made to end the strike.
The health workers are demanding, among other things, that they be at par with doctors in terms of salary — which the federal government said is not practicable.
Amnesty International report
Last week, Amnesty International released a report of alleged sexual abuse in various internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in the north-east, especially in Borno state.
According to the report, women and young girls are allegedly being asked for sex in exchange for food. Those assigned to secure them, the security forces, have been fingered as the culprits of the inhumane act.
Many of the IDPs are also said to have starved to death as a result of lack of food in the camps.
Whether true or not, the weight of the allegations makes it necessary for Buhari to weigh in on them. And although the military and the presidency have denied Amnsety’s claims, many Nigerians would have been reassured to hear the president speak on the matter.
More than four years after they were kidnapped from their school in Borno state, 113 young girls are still being held captive by Boko Haram insurgents.
Democracy Day – which largely resonates freedom – would have been an opportunity to yet again remind Nigerians that the federal government is working to ensure the last of the girls regain their freedom and reunite with their families.
Buhari said nothing about the young captives in his speech, except for listing the release of some of the girls among the achievements of his administration. Sad? You be the judge.