For a man whose strong point is not oratory, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Independence Day address to the nation unsurprisingly was not particularly elevating in the mould of Martin Luther King or his later day successors such as President Barack Obama.
But what the Nigerian leader’s epistle to a harried nation lacked in elevated language, it more than made up in the forthrightness of its assertions, the poignancy of its reflections as well as the clarity of its convictions.
In a little less than 12 minutes, the president literarily reminded Nigerians of their tragic story, the fault lines of indiscipline that brought the country to its knees and the resolve of his administration to draw a road map to a prosperous future.
Contrary to the picture being painted as captain of an army of conquest, Buhari, from his utterances and body language, remains largely at heart a statesman committed to the larger values of promoting democratic ethos and good governance.
It is reassuring that inspite of the animosity between the administration and leading lights of the immediate past administration in the last few months over the direction of the anti-graft war, the president still had kind words for former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians must thank former President Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat and thereby saving the country untold consequences,’’ Buhari had said in his address.
But the speech also offers more reasons for cheer at a time when Nigerians are angling for the much needed change in the conduct of government business.
Whether on corruption, insurgency, power or gross acts of indiscipline, the president in his address managed to state in unmistakable terms his resolve to clear the proverbial Augean stable.
“As you know, I toured the neighboring countries, marshal a coalition of armed forces of the five nations to confront and defeat Boko Haram.
“I met also the G7 leaders and other friendly presidents in an effort to build an international coalition against Boko Haram.
On power, government officials have held a series of long sessions over several weeks about the best way to improve the nation’s power supply in the safest and most cost effective way.
“In the meantime, improvement in the power supply is moderately encouraging. By the same token, supply of petrol and kerosene to the public has improved throughout the country.
”All the early signs are that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for the better.
“In addition to NNPC, I have ordered for a complete audit of our other revenue generating agencies mainly CBN, FIRS, Customs, NCC, for better service delivery to the nation,’’ the president had said in his address.
These are far reaching decisions which ought to lift the spirits of ordinary Nigerians, but the current widespread cynicism is understandable given the decades of impunity and maladministration.
The challenge for the president is all too clear. Nigerians are increasingly getting bored with the harangue of “ change’’ and asking for food on the table.
Mr President, it is time to walk the talk!