President Muhammadu Buhari’s broadcast on Thursday evening has elicited negative reactions across the country.
Mr Buhari who addressed the country following the protests that have erupted in the country after a Nigerian was killed by Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Delta, warned that Nigerians should not take his understanding as a weakness.
He, though, acknowledged the rights of the citizens to a peaceful protest, the President said: “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.”
The president also alleged that a “genuine” and “well-intended protest” of some of the youths in part of the country has been “hijacked” and “misdirected”.
Mr Buhari said the government “carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters”, and scraped SARS after listening to the yarning of the youths.
But said “Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.”
Without specifically mentioning the killing of peaceful protesters in Lekki, southwest of Nigeria, on Tuesday evening, Mr President said: “human lives have been lost’ act of sexual violence have been reported”.
The President also complained about the two major correctional facilities which he said “were attacked” by the protesters, and the invasion of Oba of Lagos palace by unknown hoodlums.
“So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors,” Buhari added.
He added, however, that “All these executed in the name of the ENDSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary.”
“Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.”
During the broadcast, Mr Buhari also described as “falsehood” the deliberate attempt by some people on social media, saying it is a “ploy to mislead the unwary within outside Nigeria” into unfair judgement and “disruptive behaviour”.
Mr Buhari also claimed he had the welfare of the citizens at heart, despite the “dwindling revenue” and the added responsibilities and “restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic”.
President Buhari said his administration has tackled poverty-alleviation like no other administration in the history of the country.
Reno Omokri, a former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, described the President as a “brute” without “empathy”.
Omokri in a tweet on Thursday evening said “General @MBuhari’s Speech just showed that he is a semiliterate brute who knows nothing other than the use of violence.
A former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose said Mr Buhari “has never disappointed me”.
“Nothing else can be lifeless than the President’s Speech. Those who brought this CHANGE should enjoy the NEXT/NEW LEVEL while it lasts.”
Mockingly, a former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Shehu Sani said “You ask for speech,you got the speech and now you are speechless.”
A US Senator, Elizabeth Warren tweeted on Thursday evening that Nigeria “deserves a government that works for all of its people, confronts corruption and ends police brutality.”
“The US should stand with Nigerian people peacefully demanding justice and equality. #EndSARS“, she added.