Nigeria’s newly elected President, former military General Muhammadu Buhari, is no stranger to power or leadership. Surprisingly his past as a military Head of State of Nigeria from December 1983 to August 1985, after seizing power in a military coup d’état, was helpful rather than detrimental to his democratic bid for Nigeria’s presidency. After three election campaigns for the nations highest office, he was finally sworn in as president on Friday, May 29. His speech at the inauguration ceremony included a direct appeal for Nigerians to sit up straight, something quite reminiscent of his commanding past as Nigeria’s military head of state.
Buhari’s first address to the nation took place 32 yeas ago, and placed side by side, both addresses are quite similar in their authoritative tone, the challenges addressed, and the sense of urgency to tackle pressing issues. Some have even noted that President Buhari should just have repeated his 1983 speech at last week’s inauguration ceremony. After all, they argue, many of the issues raised in his 1983 speech are still the nation’s present reality. Others suggest that Buhari’s authoritarian past means his approach to leadership is outdated but looking closely at the present state of Nigeria it’s hard to say whether Buhari is outdated, or if the issues plaguing Nigerian citizens remain entirely the same.
In both speeches, President Buhari identifies the shortcomings of previous leaders: 1983: Buhari says, “The corrupt, inept and insensitive leadership in the last four years has been the source of immorality and impropriety in our society.” 2015: Buhari notes that Nigerian leaders appear to have misread the mission of the country’s founding fathers, and have “behaved like spoiled children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house.”
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