- Our administration will unite Nigerians, says Osinbajo
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Eight weeks after his departure for medical treatment, the presidency at the weekend released the first recorded message from President Muhammadu Buhari, where he was heard felicitating with Nigerians in the Hausa language on the occasion of Eid-el-Fitr, marking the end of the Ramadan fast.
The recording, which was also ostensibly aimed at debunking a news report last week alleging that Buhari was suffering from speech impairment and memory loss, was released to some radio stations and the BBC.
It was the first public contact of any form that the president has made since he left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on May 7 to treat an undisclosed ailment.
In the recording, Buhari was also heard thanking Nigerians for their prayers for his well-being and urged all and sundry, irrespective of their socio-political affiliations, to always avoid hate and divisive expressions capable of throwing the country into a civil crisis.
The recording also contained the presidentâ€™s prayer for good harvest for farmers in the country.
On Saturday, the presidentâ€™s media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, had issued a statement conveying the presidentâ€™s Sallah message to Nigerians.
According to the statement, the president urged citizens to live in peace and avoid reckless statements.
While expressing gratitude to God for the successful completion of the Ramadan fast, Buhari, according to the statement, prayed for the long lasting effects of Ramadan lessons and urged citizens to live in unity and peace.
The statement read: â€œI am immensely grateful to God for His mercy in guiding us successfully to conclude another Ramadan fast. My greetings to all Nigerian Muslims and our brother Christians on the occasion of Eid-el-Fitr.
â€œMay the lessons of Ramadan, namely: piety, self-denial, prayers and generosity to the poor and needy be with us for all time.
â€œI again, appeal to all Nigerians to avoid reckless statements or actions against our fellow countrymen. We should all resolve to live in peace and unity in our great country, which is the envy of many less endowed nations,â€ he said.
Also yesterday, acting President Yemi Osinbajo restated the commitment of the Buhari administration towards the sustenance of unity among Nigerians, pointing out that doing so would enhance both the development of the country and welfare of citizens.
Osinbajo made the remark at his Aguda House residence while receiving the Muslim community in Abuja and its environs who had paid him Sallah homage in commemoration of Eid-el-Fitr.
â€œYour ethnicity doesnâ€™t matter and that is why for us, unity is so important that we must work together to make sure that our country is able to take care of millions of people we govern.
â€œGod expects us to take care of the poor and those suffering, to ensure that we use government resources for the good of the majority of our people.
â€œOur unity is not negotiable. We should make sure that we remain united in order to enjoy the resources God has blessed Nigeria with. So many nations envy what we have as a nation,â€ he said.
The acting president also prayed for Buhariâ€™s quick recovery and return to Nigeria, noting that the country yet has a lot to benefit from the president.
â€œWe are praying everyday and we know that the Lord God Almighty who we serve will bring our president back in good health and that he will serve this nation with the same determination and the same spirit of oneness, the same spirit that he has always served this nation from when he was a young man.
â€œHe will serve this nation and complete the period of his service in good health, in good shape and our country will be the better for it,â€ he stated.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Mohammed Bello, said the Sallah homage was a mark of the FCTâ€™s respect for the president, even as he thanked the security agencies, religious and traditional rulers in the territory for their roles in sustaining the peace enjoyed in Nigeriaâ€™s capital city.
The homage was graced by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, lawmakers and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Buhari Slammed for Speaking in Hausa
However, Buhariâ€™s proof of life broadcast in the Hausa language came under heavy criticism yesterday, when a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Reno Omokri, wondered why the president did not address Nigerians in English that could be understood by all Nigerians.
He said in a statement: â€œIn a country whose official language is English, President Muhammadu Buhari broadcast his Sallah message in Hausa!
â€œWould Trump (whose origin is German) address America in German? So what about all those Nigerians who canâ€™t speak Hausa?
â€œIdeally, the president should have spoken in English first, then if he feels like it, he may also speak in Hausa. The way he has now spoken only in Hausa makes it seem as if he is only concerned with those who gave him 97 per cent of the votes while those who gave him 5 per cent can take a hike!
â€œHow would the rest of the country have felt if President Olusegun Obasanjo had released a Christmas broadcast to Nigerians in Yoruba or if President Goodluck Jonathan had done so in Ogbia?
â€œHow can a national leader address Nigerians in a sectional language? Nigeria has never had a leader as divisive as Buhari! There is no difference between President Buhari and Nnamdi Kanu.
â€œPresident Buhari is the President of all Nigeria. He is not the President of only those who can speak Hausa!
â€œThis is an outrage! (Late) President Yarâ€™Adua also spoke to the BBC News by phone. He is Fulani, like President Buhari. Yet he spoke in English because he was president of all of us.â€