Buhari says he is committed to Nigeria unity, silence on Lekki shooting
By Oludare Mayowa
President Mohammadu Buhari has said that no Nigerian Government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation like his administration has done and expressed his government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country.
In a nationwide broadcast, Buhari blamed the spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular for the misconception of his administration achievement.
He said fake news on social media that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens, was a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgment and disruptive behaviour.
“On the contrary, both our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the well being and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” the president stated in his broadcast.
The government, he said has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in the society.
“These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths, and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, through which government is paying 3-months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small- and medium- enterprises.”
“Let me at this point reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country.
“In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.
“For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated,” the president said.
Until his broadcast on Thursday, the president has so far largely remained silent through the crisis, mainly using aides and statements to deliver his response to demands for reforms, despite the demonstrators’ insistence that he address them directly.
The protests, which erupted on Oct. 5 and have spread to about half of Nigeria’s 36 states, pose the most serious challenge yet to Buhari’s authority and have dealt another blow to an economy that was already reeling from the coronavirus.
While human rights group Amnesty International tallies show at least 56 people have been killed in protest-related violence, the president throughout his speech failed to make mention of the shooting incident at Lekki Toll Plaza on Tuesday night.
The protests have disrupted commerce in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, and prompted the state government to impose a 24-hour curfew. Violence peaked on Oct. 20 when about 38 people died, including 12 who were killed after security forces opened fire on protesters who’d gathered at two sites in Lagos, in defiance of the lockdown, Amnesty said, citing witnesses.
While the Nigerian army’s Twitter page labeled reports that troops had fired on protesters as “fake news,” governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said he’s ordered a probe into the conduct of the military, which falls under the federal government’s control. He’s confirmed that two persons died of their injuries.