Inaugural Speech: Buhari Keeps Nigerians Guessing


President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday May 29, 2019, set a record by being the first democratically elected leader in the history of Nigeria not to deliver an inaugural speech.

Since the inauguration of Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, the late Prime Minister, it has being a tradition for democratically elected leaders to address Nigerians and inform the nation of their plans and offer words of assurances to the people.

Tafawa-Balewa, who became Prime Minister at the exit of the colonial masters, delivered the first of such speeches on October 1, 1960 after the Union Jack was lowered.

Balewa, in his speech, commended the resilience of Nigerians during the over 60 years of colonialism and also thanked foreign countries for supporting the nation in its drive for independence.

President Shehu Shagari, Nigeria’s second democratically elected leader, also delivered inaugural speeches on October 1, 1979 and October 1, 1983 on his re-election.

Shagari, in his first speech, called on all politicians, regardless of party affiliation, to unite to make Nigeria one and to also ensure that military rule never returned.

In his second inaugural speech in 1983, Shagari said the past four years had brought Nigeria peace and stability. The task for the new administration, he said, ”will no more involve the erection of a system but rather to ensure efficient working of that system.”

He was, however, removed in a coup by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari less than three months, thereby bringing the Second Republic to an abrupt end.

When former President Olusegun Obasanjo emerged in the Fourth Republic, he made an inaugural speech on May 29, 1999, vowing that there would be no sacred cows in his government and that he would fight corruption to the best of his ability.

In his second inauguration in 2003, Obasanjo thanked his deputy, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, and members of his cabinet for the successes he had recorded, especially in the area of economy and improving the standard of living of Nigerians.

After Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua emerged the elected president. In his inaugural speech delivered on May 29, 2007, Yar’Adua admitted that the election, which ushered in his administration, was flawed and promised to focus on electoral reform.

On Yar’Adua’s death in 2010, his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, was sworn in on May 6, 2010. In his speech, he promised to continue with Yar’Adua’s agenda, especially in the area of electoral reform and the fight against corruption.

The following year, Jonathan was inaugurated for a fresh term of four years on May 29, 2011. In his speech, he thanked Nigerians for making history by voting in a person from a minority tribe as President.

On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in. In his inaugural speech, Buhari, who made history as the first opposition politician to be voted into power, delivered the memorable speech in which he declared: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”

But, on his swearing-in on May 29, 2019, for his second term, Buhari disappointed a cross section of Nigerians who were eagerly waiting for his inaugural speech. Buhari, during that occasion, only took the Oaths of Office and Oath of Allegiance, inspected the guards’ brigade, boarded his vehicle and left the Eagle Square with his convoy.

Since that event, Nigerians had been wondering if it was proper for Buhari not to address the people on the epoch-making occasion. This is as many also wonder if such a speech matters as what Nigerians need is good governance and not meaningless speeches.

Buhari Not Properly Briefed Or Advised – Trade Unionist

Comrade Eric Nosa Igunbor, a Benin-based trade unionist said: “The Presidency has already told us that the President did not address the nation on his inauguration because he will do that on June 12, since June12, is now the official date of democracy day celebration.

“But to me as a trade unionist, I think the President was not properly briefed or advised on this issue because between May 29 and June 12 we have two full weeks and politics is about talking and frequent interaction with the people you are ruling.

“Even if the President is going to address the nation on June 12, it would have still been proper for him to have made inaugural speech to the nation soon after his swearing in ceremony.

“Nigerians are very anxious and ready to hear from their President every time, and if it is possible, every week, especially now that the country is undergoing some security problems so as to douse tension being created by insecurity. So, since that has passed now, there is nothing we can do than to wait for the June 12.”

There Is Nothing Wrong In Waiting Till June 12 – NIP Chief

Chief Ubawike Okoro Ohajiuka Chieftain – National Interest Party (NIP) Orlu LGA, Imo State, stated: “The President has made it clear that June 12 is now the officially recognised democracy day. He said that he would talk to us on that day and not on the day of his inauguration. There is nothing wrong with this. Take the rope and tie it to the goat and take the goat and tie it with a rope are one and the same thing.”

Things Are No Longer Normal In Nigeria – Women Leader

Chief Mrs Blessing Adanna Akudinilo, Women Leader, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Owerri North, Imo State, opined: “All over the world, once a president or a governor is inaugurated, he addresses his people. But, unfortunately, we are in a country where ‘IS’ is no longer ‘IS’ and ‘WAS’ is no longer ‘WAS’.

Nigerians Need Good Governance, Not Speeches – Lawyer

Abdulrasaq Adediji, a legal practitioner, maintained: “There is no sin in it not addressing Nigerians at inauguration, inauguration speech is not what we need but good leadership and lead by example.”

According to him, “what we need is good governance, inauguration speech does not translate to good governance. Though lot of Nigerians may expect him to talk but he had hinted that it has been deferred till June 12, there is another opportunity to listen to him and he might not want to repeat himself that was why he fixed another date for that.”

Nigerians Deserve An Apology From Buhari – Commmentator

Chukwuma Ugwu, a public affairs commentator, asked Buhari to apologise to Nigerians for not making an inaugural speech.

Ugwu said Nigerians eagerly waited for the President to speak to them after his second term inauguration, but for reasons best known to him, he decided to keep quiet.

According to him, there is nowhere in the world a President takes Oath of Office without addressing his people.

Ugwu said the latest development has confirmed fears in many quarters that President Buhari was not prepared for leadership.

“If a President cannot make an inaugural speech, what else can he do? The action of the President at the inauguration portrayed him as somebody incompetent.

“The people of Nigeria who have been traumatized by insecurity and bad economy, waited for the President to renew their hope in the Nigerian project but it was a no show. So, Nigerians deserve nothing but an apology from the President,” Ugwu said.

Buhari Owes It A Duty To Address Nigerians – Poliician

Abubarkar Dogo, politician, stated: “It is wrong for Buhari not to address Nigerians on his inauguration. My position is based on the fact that Nigerians voted for him to serve them and as such he owes it a duty to address them during his Oath of Office taking symbolising that he has taken oath and from that moment his second tenure starts.

“But again, I am thinking that there must be a reason he refused to address citizens. I am aware that though I may not be completely correct, that Democracy Day has been shifted to June 12. It is possible that the President may have instead chosen to address Nigerians at least to make the day become one of the special days just as many similar days are being celebrated in Nigeria today.

“Nigerians are no fools and it is not as if the President is doing us any favour. It is a constitutional right of every Nigerian to mandate him, the President, to do the needful. Let Nigerians know how he feels being re-elected and/or taking Oath of Office for the second time as civilian President of Nigeria.

“Doing so will make Nigerians not just appreciate him more but accord every citizen of this country an sense of belonging that the President is not unaware of peculiar challenge facing the different segments of this country.”