A JOEBLINKS BLOG reader, Michael Owan, has sent the speech below in reaction to that delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday.
Mr Buhari’s Thursday speech came two weeks after #EndSARS protests against police brutality began across the country.
The president, in his speech, condemned the violence across the country and called on protesters to end the protest.
Many Nigerians have criticised the president’s speech as lacking in empathy and keeping mum on the attacks on peaceful protesters by armed security operatives.
Michael Owan is one of those dissatisfied with the president’s speech and has written a version of what he believes the speech should have looked like.
See his version below.
THE SPEECH THAT THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENT FORGOT TO DELIVER
1. It is with a heavy heart that I address you tonight particularly on the recent carnage and avoidable deaths of our citizens as a result of the slow approach of the government to the yearnings for an end to police brutality and the reform of that security agency.
2. For several days now, I have watched with consternation how a hitherto peaceful protest was hijacked by unpatriotic elements seeking to discredit a noble cause through ethnic and religious sentiments among others.
3. Their evil plots against our country, and indeed well-meaning citizens, have resulted in the wanton destruction of private property and enterprises, public facilities, and in some cases, looting, as we have witnessed in the past days.
4. All these happened at a time that the government was busy working for the improvement of our economy which the COVID-19 pandemic had threatened to cripple.
5. Fellow Nigerians, let me seize this opportunity to apologize to you for the failings of the government in preventing this unfortunate development.
6. I assure you, dear compatriots, that as a government we are awake to our responsibilities, which include but are not limited to improving the standard of living by providing the basic necessaries of life and security of all citizens.
7. As your President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, let me also seize this opportunity to most humbly take the blame for the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate complex in Lagos where our citizens were either killed or injured during an unfortunate shooting incident.
8. I am fully aware that at this point no explanation, compensation, or intervention by the government can truly bring back the lives of those killed or clear the scars of those injured in that unfortunate and avoidable incident.
9. There is absolutely no justification for anyone, state agents, or anti-government forces, to open fire on unarmed demonstrators calling for better and effective policing in their own country.
10. The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our Constitution and other enactments, but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.
11. I hereby pay tribute to the souls of everyone killed during the protests, including officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.
12. From tomorrow, I have ordered that the Nigerian flag be lowered to half-mast in every public building across the country in honour of the citizens and security officers who died during this crisis. In addition to that, we shall also observe three-day national mourning of the dead.
13. Following the unfortunate incidents, I have held various meetings with those in charge of national security. Earlier today, I presided over a national security council meeting where some important decisions were made.
14. Moving forward, as a nation and responsible government, we have learnt our lessons. I assure you that tragedies like this will be averted at all times.
15. To pave the way for a thorough investigation of the mismanagement of the recent security situation, I have ordered the immediate sack of (a) The Chief of Army Staff (b) The Inspector General of Police.
16. As we continue this thorough investigation, further decisions by the government would be made known to the general public.
17. Fellow countrymen, do not lose hope in your country. As a government, we will continue to improve good governance and our democratic process, including through sustained engagement.
18. I appeal to the conscience of all well-meaning Nigerians, and in particular, the END SARS protesters that the genuine concerns and agitation which you expressed over the past two weeks have been heard loud and clear.
19. We shall continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens, are protected.
20. I, therefore, call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage the government in finding solutions.
21. And I call on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses and enjoin security agencies to protect the lives and properties of all law-abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect.
22. I would like to thank those state governors, traditional and religious leaders who have appealed for calm and restraint. I also thank youth leaders who have restrained their followers from taking the law into their hands.
23. This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation.
Thank you all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.