Why The Nigerian President's Choice of Words is Cause For Concern

Published on 4 June 2021 at 10:11

'Beast of No Nation' is a popular song that was released in 1989 by Afro-beat legend Fela Anikulapo. Apart from the harmonic blend of musician instruments on the track, the lyrics of the song shed light on previous statements made by the current president of Nigeria, who was head of state from 1983–85.  


‘’My people are useless, my people are senseless, my people are undisciplined”, as said by Fela on 'Beast of No Nation,' referring to statements made by the military leader Muhammadu Buhari who believed that ‘’indiscipline’’ was a big issue in the affairs of the country.


Even as the democratic president of Nigeria, the controversy that comes with President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) public speaking is still in play. 


The Nigerian leader seems to have a questionable way of getting his message across to his citizens, especially with the tone of his words. Some people of the west African country believe that his previous years as a military dictator have influenced his style of communication even as a democratic leader.


Last Tuesday, through his official Twitter account PMB seems to have threatened violence on some group of Nigerians. Although the country’s leader spoke in metaphors the message was quite easy to understand.


He said “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”


During the Nigerian Civil War (6 July 1967- 15 January 1970), Buhari was a soldier assigned to the 1st Division under the command of Lt. Col Mohammed Shuwa. Originally his assignment was as Adjutant and Company Commander 2 battalion unit, Second Sector Infantry of the 1st Division.


Twitter later removed the message of Buhari stating that his statement violated the social media’s “abusive behavior” policy. Additionally the company placed a 12-hour suspension on his account.


Last October, citizens were thrusted into a period of violence following the killing of unarmed protesters by the Nigerian Army during the EndSarz demonstration at the lekki tollgate, Lagos. 


After several days of silence the president addressed the nation regarding the EndSarz melee. But some Nigerians felt disappointed at the actions and statements of the president as they expected a sympathetic remark from PMB.


Buhari said ''The promptness to which we have acted seems to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interest’’. Till the date, no military soldier or person of authority have been punished following the EndSarz protest.


This was quite difficult for the Nigerian population as PMB's term doesn't end until 2023. As the reality of enduring the next two years of PMB tenure seemed unpredictable and challenging.


In 2018, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in the United Kingdom. While responding to a question concerning investment in Nigeria, Buhari said “About the economy, we have a very young population, our population is estimated to be 196 million in 2018. This is a very conservative one. More than 60 percent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free”.


Nigerian people, especially younger citizens, found the president's remarks offensive and unappreciative of the entrepreneurial energy they bring to the Nigerian economy. Many youths believe that Nigerian Entertainers and athletes put the country on the global map of achievements with little or no support from the government.


This outburst led to an online hashtag called ‘’#LazyNigerianYouths’’ on social media platforms. The slogan has also been used to promote business opportunities where people seek support to their business while other people use it as a hashtag during work hours.


The statements of PMB are beginning to reflect his time as a military dictator. Some opine that his tenure is a military leadership disguised as a democracy. 


Nevertheless it would be of great importance for the presidency of Nigeria to use words that are less hostile, especially in this time of insecurity and economic agony. As the country tries to compete against larger economies in the international market the use of words that can motivate and encourage the Nigerian people to be hopeful and strong would create a better relationship between the government and the masses. 

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