President Muhammadu Buhari has come under fire after his office released an audio of the president greeting Nigerians in Hausa on Ed-el-Fitr, the Muslim celebration after the month-long Ramadan fast.
In the recorded message, the ailing president thanked Nigerians for wishing him quick recovery and preached peace across the land.
A State House press statement had initially conveyed essentially the same remarks in English on Saturday. But the presidency later released the audio in an apparent response to distrustful Nigerians who had not heard from Mr. Buhari for nearly two months.
Mr. Buhari has not been seen or heard since May 7 when he was flown to London on his second medical trip this year.
Reports that the president has lost his ability to speak due to the undisclosed ailments have circulated online in recent days.
Government officials often dismiss inquiries about the nature of the president’s illness by pointing to the role of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who now wields all executive powers.
But rather than gushing over the audio, Nigerians expressed outrage that the president chose Hausa over English, which is the official language of the country. Estimates put the number of Nigerian languages at over 500.
“Mr.President’s Eid-el-Fitr statement in Hausa was totally wrong because Nigeria is a clime of hundreds of tongues where English is the official language,” said activist and university lecturer, John Danfulani, in a message to PREMIUM TIMES. “Whosoever advised him to use Hausa has done a great disservice to him”.
Other critics argued that the president’s action was divisive and could reverse the gains the administration recorded through recent peace moves by Mr. Osinbajo.
Mr. Buhari had been criticised for similar actions before. In December 2016, he apologised to the people of Bauchi State in Hausa, after abruptly cancelling a working trip to the state. Bauchi has minority indigenous languages.
The president has also been accused of making lopsided appointments that failed to reflect Nigeria’s federal character.
This time, the president has been widely criticised.
At a time when the Acting President is Uniting Nigeria. BUHARI sent a sallah message in Hausa
— Cinderella Man (@Osi_Suave) June 25, 2017
Activists Kayode Ogundamisi and Aminu Gamawa also weighed in, scolding the president’s handlers.
— Káyọ̀dé Ògúndámisí (@ogundamisi) June 25, 2017
I think the audio thing has backfired. It has created more problems than it solved, and raised more questions than it answered. #Avoidable
— Dr. Aminu Gamawa (@aminugamawa) June 25, 2017
Below are the reactions of more Nigerians from diverse backgrounds who joined in condemning the president’s action.
Let's accept that Buhari sent a voice message(sounds ridiculous yeah?),so he did it in Hausa language? Buhari is a threat to National Unity
— Tomide (@MrTomide) June 25, 2017
The president can't be gone for 50 days with no sight of him, only for his team to release an audio in Hausa language, bad PR. 🇳🇬
— Rosanwo (@rosanwo) June 25, 2017
Imagine how I would have felt if Obasanjo addressed the nation in Yoruba or GEJ in Ijaw. Whoever told Buhari to speak in Hausa is shallow
— Hamma (@HAHayatu) June 25, 2017
So PMB sent out sallah message in Hausa today, after more than one month abroad. How nice! President of the North, ranka dede baba.
— Àṣàkẹ́ (@Omodayo2) June 25, 2017
Wanan kai mana zo kainji dansuku shiki'shiki bam bam…
Practicing my Hausa since Buhari has given us a hint about my future as a Nigerian
— Prof Stanley Nwabia (@MrStanleyNwabia) June 25, 2017
@NGRPresident disappears for two months, allegedly reappears in audio recording speaking Hausa to Northern Muslims. This is nothing but 🐂💩.
— Mr. Aye Dee (@MrAyeDee) June 25, 2017
What kind of president would give Sallah message to Nigerian Muslims in Hausa language?
Are all Nigerian Muslims Hausa?
— Omadi (@iamtenseven) June 25, 2017
Alternative fact: Buhari was interviewed by BBC Hausa.
— Abdulaziz Abdulaziz (@Abdulfagge) June 26, 2017
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