Monday, June 26, 2017

Buhari under fire for recording Sallah message to Nigerians in Hausa language

President Muhammadu Buhari has sparked outrage after he wished his country well on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Hausa language.

Like many national leaders, Mr. Buhari’s office on Sunday released an audio of the president greeting Nigerians.

In a short message aired on several media outlets, he said he hoped the "lessons of Ramadan" - virtues such as self-denial, and generosity to the poor - would endure, and appealed to his countrymen to live in peace.

It was the first time Mr Buhari's voice has been broadcast since he left the country in early May for medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment.

The message was meant to debunk rumours that he has developed a speech impairment as there have been concerns over his health.

But the fact that the message was delivered in Hausa, the main language of President Buhari's native northern Nigeria, was not well received by everyone.

Reno Omokri, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, said "Ideally, the President should have spoken in English first.”

"How can a national leader address Nigerians in a sectional language?" he asked in a Facebook post. "He is not the president of only those who can speak Hausa! This is an outrage!”

Below is his full post:

“In a country whose official language is English, President Muhammadu Buhari broadcasts his Sallah message in Hausa! Would Trump (whose origin is German) address America in German? So what about all those Nigerians who can't speak Hausa? Ideally, 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% of the votes while those who have him 5% can take a hike! How would the rest of the country have felt if President Olusegun Obasanjo had released a Christmas broadcast to Nigerians in Yoruba of if President Goodluck Jonathan has done so in Ogbia? How 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. President Buhari is the President of all Nigeria. He is not the President of only those who can speak Hausa! This is an outrage! President Yar'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!”

A spokesman for the Igbo community accused him of turning the country into a "banana republic”.

Others even questioned the authenticity of the message, saying it should be investigated to ascertain whether it truly was Mr Buhari speaking.

Here are some reactions of Nigerians on Twitter:

One commentator on Twitter wrote: ”Away from Nigeria for almost 50 days, the first message to Nigerians is in Hausa. And you people say Buhari & his handlers are not daft?”

Cinderella Man wrote on Twitter: “At a time when the Acting President is Uniting Nigeria. BUHARI sent a sallah message in Hausa”

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