By ‘Dotun Akintomide
A former Special Assistant on Social Media to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Reno Omokri, has condemned President Muhammadu Buhari for addressing Muslims in Hausa on the occasion of this year’s Sallah celebration, drawing a comparison between him and the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Reacting to the President’s message on his Facebook page, Omokri called Buhari a divisive President for speaking to Nigerians in an audio clip in Hausa language, which was aired on BBC Hausa and whose text was conveyed in a message to Nigerians by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Omokri stated, “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 spoke only in Hausa makes it seem as if he is only concerned with those who gave him 97 per cent of the votes while those who gave him five per cent 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 or if President Goodluck Jonathan had 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! (The late) President Umaru Yar’Adua also spoke to the BBC News by telephone. He is Fulani, like President Buhari; yet, he spoke in English because he was President of all of us!”
The voice message came after 50 days since President Buhari left the country for the United Kingdom to attend to his failing health and according to The News Agency of Nigeria, the voice message was released to debunk reports that the President was suffering from speech impairment.
Buhari stated in the message, “I am immensely grateful to God for his mercy in guiding us successfully to conclude another Ramadan. My greetings to all Nigerian Muslims and our brother Christians on the occasion of Eid-el-Fitr:
“May the lessons of Ramadan, namely piety, self-denial, prayers and generosity to the poor and the needy, be with us for all time.
“I, again, appeal to all Nigerians to avoid reckless statements or actions against our fellow countrymen. We should all resolve to live in peace and unity in our great country, which is the envy of many less-endowed nations.”