When President Buhari returned to the country on Saturday after 103 days, Nigerians rejoiced for two reasons – we don’t have a president who wounded up dead in a foreign land and from a strange, undisclosed illness and the state of the nation would finally be addressed by him.
Nigerians looked forward to a bombshell speech that would set the tone for decisive actions to tackle the overflowing challenges – insecurity, ethnic violence, the threat to unity, the ASUU strike, etc – that the nation currently faces. Some even went as far as hoping for him to announce a cabinet shakeup.
Of everything to expect from the 7 am live broadcast, there was no way to imagine it would last only 5 minutes. The speech came to an abrupt end just as it began to gain momentum and left us wondering if the president is choosing tough action over long talk or his health status didn’t allow for more.
Two things have been on the top of President Buhari’s agenda for Nigeria – corruption and security – and while he has failed at fulfilling both in recent months, especially due to the resumed attacks on citizens by terrorist sect, Boko Haram, the bulk of his speech focused on this issue and he has renewed the promise to fight the insurgents and put an end to herdsmen killings too.
Although he spoke pointedly to Nnamdi Kanu and other provocateurs of hate speech in the country, the president cannot use his 2003 meeting with Ojukwu as a yardstick to judge the pulse of Nigerians as to the country’s unity.
Buhari could have at least informed Nigerians as to what ails him during the speech.
The president’s speech lacked in the length and depth that is expected after a 3-month hiatus but in content, he may have inspired confidence in Nigerians again and his body language will be closely monitored from here.