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President Buhari’s Speech Showed No Empathy – Experts

Experts have described the speech made by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, as “lacking empathy”.

Buhari delivered a national address at 7 p.m., as security forces in some parts of the country enforced curfew to restore law and order.

The long-awaited address was also made 48 hours after the violent suppression and killing of peaceful protesters at Lekki Tollgate, on Tuesday.

Many Nigerians had been expecting the president to address the country, especially since Tuesday when soldiers opened fire at peaceful demonstrators at the Lekki Toll-gate area in Lagos, thereby killing at least 12 people, according to Amnesty International.

Cheta Nwanze, the Lead Partner at SBM Intelligence told HumAngle, in an interview, that the President’s long-awaited speech said nothing and showed no empathy.

“The President’s speech was essentially a middle finger to Nigerians. In saying nothing of note, and refusing to show any empathy for the plight of the people he purports to govern.

“He has alienated a generation that is really motivated by high youth unemployment and a sharply rising cost of living,” he said.

Nwanze added that he suspects that the protests will continue in another form when the curfews are lifted.

“We may be entering into a winter of discontent,” he added.

The President, his address, said that “the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted”.

He went on to caution Nigerians not to disrupt public order, warning that there would be consequences.

“This government respects and will continue to respect the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people. But it will not allow any bodies or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation,” Buhari said.

He also gave his salutation to officers killed in the violence but said nothing on protesters killed and injured during weeks of #EndSARS protest or the Lekki incident that drew international condemnation and calls for protection of protesters.

Jake Effoduh, a lawyer said, “Despite our heartbreak over the killings of protesters that had taken place in the past days, we still tuned in to listen to the President because he is our President.

“After enduring the painful silence from him, we wanted faith, not fear. We wanted truth, not terror. We wanted to listen to a leader, not a ruler,” he said concerning the 12-minute speech.

Effoduh added that the speech was not only short and disheartening, “it wasn’t live, and it was edited.

“It also lacked diplomacy, and of utmost concern, gives us room to suspect that the President is either completely shielded from the truth or is unaware of the realities on the ground,” the lawyer noted.

Meanwhile, President Buhari further asked the country’s neighbours and the international community to tread carefully before making conclusions on the recent events.

“We thank you and urge you all to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgement and making hasty pronouncements,” Buhari said.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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