Several wise sayings focus on the need to practice what we preach, one favorite states that “Actions speak louder than words” and after Buhari’s UN speech on Tuesday, it seems that it is a lesson the Nigerian President has not learned very well.
President Muhammadu Buhari was one of the world leaders to gather for the 72nd session of the United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA) and on Tuesday the President got his turn at the podium to address the room full of leaders.
Buhari’s UN speech has received quite a lot of criticism. In fact, a quote by Aljazeera on its lack of merit has been severally shared on social networks. According to them;
“Muhammadu Buhari’s UN speech is watery, unpresidential, uninspiring, he pretty much talked about every other country except his own. It shows lack of focus”
The President managed to preach to the UNGA on a variety of issues centering around violence without addressing the very real problems in his own country.
5 Points In Buhari’s UN Speech That Nigerians Wished He Practiced
Violence Against A Religious Group
While giving his address, President Muhammadu Buhari spoke on one of the world’s most pressing human rights issues: the brutal violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
He said; “The international community cannot remain silent and not condemn the horrendous suffering” of Rohingya Muslims. It was a statement that would no doubt have had a lot of Rohingya’s cheering but is the President practicing what he is preaching?
In December 2015 shortly after the President had won the elections and stepped into office, the Nigerian military and the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a Shiite Muslim group in Nigeria’s north clashed. Amnesty International says that in that clash “more than 350 people,” including women and children, unlawfully killed and that the military tried to “destroy and conceal evidence” of the killings.
It has been two years since and despite a court order for the release of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Shiite group, he is still being detained by the government.
Ignoring Members Of Society
One of the President’s most ironic statements in his speech was this;
“As we have learned in Nigeria, our stubborn self-righteousness blocks our ears from hearing the cry of those that we left on the fringe of society and blocks our eyes from seeing and reading the handwriting on the wall.”
The statement is ironic considering the amount of criticism that the President has faced for the way he has handled the secessionist agitations from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Just last week before the President traveled for the General Assembly, soldiers were deployed to the region to maintain peace but a show of brute force by the soldiers escalated an already tense situation.
The secessionist agitations are, of course, rooted in a belief by people in the southeast that the region has been marginalized by Nigeria’s federal government. The President does not seem to have learned much on handling such a major group of Nigerians to talk more of those left on the fringe of society.
Appreciating Every Member Of Society
Buhari’s UN Speech also featured another lesson that the President claimed to have learned. In his words;
“As we have learned in Nigeria, you compromise the security of the whole when components of the sum are not fully valued, appreciated and integrated with the whole.”
Again, a number of Nigerians would be confused as to how he has applied these lessons with all that is going on with IPOB.
While giving a rundown of the achievements made by his government, President Buhari said;
“In Nigeria, we have degraded the capability of the Boko Haram terrorist group. We are on the path to eliminating the last of their safe heavens. We have also secured the release of some of our abducted Chibok Girls. We are working hard to secure the release of the rest and to finish the job of closing the Boko Haram chapter and get the North East of Nigeria back to a peaceful region that it used to be.”
While a lot of that is true most Nigerians still dispute on just how much the Boko Haram menace really has been curbed.
Buhari also called on the UN to be mindful of “widening inequalities within societies” which may cause “frustration and anger leading to spiraling instability.”
There are currently over two million displaced persons in Nigeria’s northeast. The President’s statement would no doubt be confusing to them if they are even opportune to hear it considering that these displaced persons are forced to live in congested camps where hunger and disease are rife.
According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, nearly half a million children in the region are severely malnourished and the camps themselves are underfunded by the government.