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The Opprobrium Of President Muhammad Buhari’s Independence Speech, The Way Forward For Nigeria At Her 55th Independence

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“October 1st is a day for joy and celebrations for us Nigerians whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in because it is the day, 55 years ago; we liberated ourselves from the shackles of colonialism and began our long march to nationhood and to greatness.”

I have ever advocated the need to celebrate our Independence no matter what setbacks Nigeria and Nigerians might be faced with. Since the insurgence of Boko Haram, Nigerians saw no reasons to celebrate our independence; the APC-lead administration, who saw no reasons to celebrate in the past is today celebrating. Mr. President in his speech convinced us on the need to celebrate our independence and a sum of N70m was approved to celebrate the Independence. “No temporary problems or passing challenges should stop us from honouring this day”.

This write-up wishes to look critically into the Independence speech of President Muhammad Buhari. This is not to criticize or undermine his government but to look in-depth into the speech, which, if you are apt, you must have noticed it is a failed speech.

The political landscape of Nigeria has foisted different myriads of post-independence leaders; most of who are more concerned with the politics of vague verbiages than with vigorous vocation of concrete ideologies that will drive a better Nigeria. It is a wretched dreary quagmire and a regrettably lugubrious pismire a fact, which is gradually becoming a national trademark.

In every speech act, especially when in public or seating a public post, there are rule of thumbs for effective communication; in it all, conversational maxims have to be respected. The conventional meaning of a statement uttered and contextual processes of disambiguation and reference fixing determine what someone says; what it implicates is associated with the existence of some rational principles and the maxims governing conversation. What is said is widely identified with the literal content of the utterance; what is implicated, the implicature, is with the non-literal, what is communicated but not said by the speaker.

The quantity maxim requires interlocutors utterances to be as informative as required. The maxim of quality emphasizes the truthfulness of the interlocutors utterances; avoiding what they believe to be false and what they lack adequate evidence for. The maxim of relation requires that the interlocutors stay on the topic. In other words, it should be ensured that comments fit with what is being talked about. Maxim of manner states that comments should be direct, clear, and to the point. Using vague or ambiguous language when speaking should be avoided. Failure to observe any or all of these maxims results in conversational implicature.

Is President Muhammad Buhari’s Independence speech as informative as required? Can the truthfulness of his utterances be verified? Has he said what he believes to be false and what he lacks adequate evidence for? Did he stay on the topic? Is the speech not vague? You will find out.

First, it is needless for Mr. President to remind us of our numerical strength and how blessed the country is. The issue is with providing ideologies that will harness the abundant human and natural resources prevalent in the country for tangible development. That “we have all the attribute of a great nation.” in Nigeria is a misnomer. The attributes of great nations are freedom, justice, morality, value of life, creativity, excellence, graciousness, mercy, stewardship, stable electric power supply, good roads, a strong currency, stable economy, which we lack. Not until we harness our potentials we will not see these attributes of great nations in Nigeria.

If Mr. President had said we have the potentials of great nations, he would have been correct. In fact, he went on to contradict that statement when he said “we are not there yet...” Moreover, “we are not there yet” is because we have failed to harness our copious human and natural resources very well, and not just by the apparent lack of unity of purpose. Countries with more disunity of purpose than Nigeria have made and enjoyed greater economic progress; attain orderly political evolution and integration, and also enjoyed continuity and economic progress than Nigeria. However, actually, in the face of ethnic and religious bigotry, that Nigeria has remained a single entity is a miracle. While we should appreciate this and try to consolidate it, the centrifugal forces are increasing every day.

Straight into the Goodluck Jonathan mention. I am yet to see the reason why Jonathan is a good man after all. Has conceding defeat and not contesting the election results at the tribunal made Jonathan a good man? If it is, then, President Buhari needs thought cleansing. Is Mr. President reneging on the fight against corruption? His own word proves the affirmative. “Nobody should fear anything from me. We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view to join me in working for the nation.” I think Mr. President has become a renegade fighter of corruption. More than a hundred days in office, no one has been indicted and thrown into jail. Maybe, it is too early to say; I am watching.

New government inherits problems. Every government has problems. What Nigerians want are solutions, quick solutions probably, not to be reminded that we have problems. “Accordingly, after consultations with the Vice President, senior party leaders and other senior stakeholders, I quickly got down to WORK ON the immediate, medium-term and long-term problems WHICH WE MUST SOLVE(d) if we are to maintain the confidence which Nigerians so generously bestowed on us in the March elections and since then.” Take note of the phrases in uppercase letters; probably, Nigeria has been vehemently WORK(ed)-ON on papers. But, what we actually want to see are tangible developments!

This statement “as you know, I toured the neighbouring countries, marshal a coalition of armed forces of the five nations to confront and defeat Boko Haram.” is highly ambiguous and does not obey the conversational maxim of manner. You would be deceiving us if you are telling me the coalition of armed forces have confronted and have defeated Boko Haram. The speech was dangling between ‘confronting Boko Haram, defeating Boko Haram and defeated Boko Haram’. Which is which? Mr. President, please do not end up only as The Tourist President. More also, calling Boko Haram attack on I.D.P. camps as shameless and indicative of their cowardice and desperation is indicative of the height of laxity and shameful in itself.

“On power, government officials have held a series of long sessions over several weeks about the best way to improve the nation’s power supply in the safest and most cost effective way. In the meantime, improvement in the power supply is moderately encouraging.” Has this new government built any power station so far? Mr. President, the improve power supply is yet the product of the past government.

“By the same token, supply of petrol and kerosene to the public has improved throughout the country. All the early signs are that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for the better. Preliminary steps have been taken to sanitize NNPC and improve its operations so that the inefficiency and corruption could be reduced to a minimum. Those of our refineries which can be serviced and brought back into partial production would be enabled to resume operations so that the whole sordid business of exporting crude and importing finished products in dubious transactions could be stopped.” I want to congratulate Mr. President for nominating himself Minister of Petroleum. I recommend he appoint himself Minister of Finance and the Chairman of EFCC as well.

A leader makes things happen; things that would not have happened ordinarily. If a leader causes intended changes, he has exercised power but if a leader causes unintended changes, he has only succeeded in wielding influence. Power is better exercised by being deliberate. Part of the onerous duties of leaders is to help societies understand the problems that all must face, to aid in the setting of goals and priorities, to work with others in finding paths to chosen goals, maintaining public morale and motivation, and nurturing a workable level of public unity.

Furthermore, a leader is bequeathed with the responsibility to activate existing institutions in pursuit of society’s goals or, when necessary, help redesign institutions to achieve such results. Leadership is the ability to get the willing followership of the populace. A leader requires integrity, dedication, openness, magnanimity, humility, creativity, fairness, assertiveness and a sense of humour. Leaders are well spoken. They know their onus, they know what to do and how to say things right at the right time and they even possess the diplomacy to say the wrong things right.

It is regrettable that in Nigeria, the definition of a leader has been reduced to just someone who has occupied or who is occupying a position of authority without recourse to their antecedents whatsoever. Nigerian leaders wade influence and affluence only to win followers while followership in Nigeria is based on benefits; no matter how devious such benefits may be.

“Order is more vital than speed” and I will say just as they say, the end usually justifies the means. Change does not just happen. Change does not happen by the fear of a person. Change happens by making deliberate efforts and taking steps toward development efforts and attacking antiestablishmentarianism wiles.

I have seen better speeches; President Muhammad Buhari’s Nigeria 55th Independence speech is a failed speech. I will assume a failed speech and not a failed leader. The foregoing, therefore, imposes an urgent demand to refrain from verbiages unworthy of the status of the Presidency. With exceptions, Nigerians have given Mr. President their best support and the benefit of doubt to make a difference. I hereby give a collective assurance that Nigerians will give premium support to make sure that he equitably deliver the mostly needed social services. Mr. President has no excuses to give if he failed after his four years in office. If this administration fails, we already have functional insights into the mindsets that will inform the failure beforehand.

Thank you.
Happy Independence Celebrations!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Oyibo Edrin

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Oyibo Ediri Carl and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Oyibo Ediri Carl