President Muhammadu Buhari’s call at the ongoing United Nations’ General Assembly’s 77th Session “for respect for free speech…”, and adherence to “democratic culture” has drawn the irk of Nigerian lawyer, academic and public commentator, Godwin Onuoha.
Onuoha, in an an exchange with Prime Business Africa (PBA), early Thursday morning said the President’s call for free speech in far-away New York is ”laughable and pitiable at the same time… simply because it was a grand deception on the grandest stage of international interaction and discourse.”
PBA had published the full speech of ,Mr President at the ongoing UNGA in New York where, among other things, he urged advanced countries to support debt cancellation as well as enhance free speech to protect the most vulnerable.
President Buhari had, in his speech on Wednesday, told the UN General Assembly that the multifaceted challenges facing most developing countries have placed a debilitating chokehold on the fiscal space of African countries, a situation that ”equally calls for the need to address the burden of unsustainable external debt by a global commitment to the expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to countries facing fiscal and liquidity challenges as well as outright cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges.”
On free spoeech, he said: ”In confronting these challenges, we must also come together to defend freedom of speech, while upholding other values that we cherish. We must continue to work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities to keep the most vulnerable from harm and help strengthen and enrich communities.”
Angered by what Mr Onuoha, a former lecturer of Law at the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) said was deceptive, he wondered ”how can a failed civilian dictatorship at home blandly project a “democratic” image abroad? He wanted to be seen as a “democratic leader” on the world stage, which he is not. He is simply an unrepentant civilian dictator here in Nigeria with a bunch of yapping attack dogs and spin doctors employed at the Aso Rock who viciously attack and strive to rubbish any critic of his Administration on any issue – however democratic or constructive such criticism might be.”
He said the the President preached “self-determination” for the Palestinian people in the Middle East, but back here in Nigeria, he has been on the trail of those pursuing similar objectives – Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Leader of the Indigeneous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Sunday Igboho, advocate of Odua separatist movement.
”The functional indices of true democracy have long vanished under the Buhari Presidency perhaps as early as 2017 when the DSS started pursuing critics of this disguised civilian dictatorship, and even raided the private homes or residences of Supreme Court and Federal High Court Justices in Abuja and elsewhere in various sting operations.”
”We all saw what happened. This civilian dictatorship in Nigeria has been chasing its critics around through the same DSS (its Secret Police) and similar state-sponsored para- military outfits designed to suppress critics and free speech and democratic vibrancy.
”How can any democracy grow and mature under these stifling conditions? The universal indices of democracy include free, unimpeded speech and a free press, free movement, freedom of association and assembly, sanctity of and respect for human life and generally, respect for human rights and liberties, including human dignity; also geopolitical sensitivity and inclusivity, non discrimination against ethnic nationalities and groups in governmental administration including federal appointments, broad application of federal character principles enshrined in the country’s constitution to ensure a sense of belonging and equity, etc.
”But where have we been in this country since 2015 under this Federal Government? Answer: the opposite of almost everything the President preached at the United Nations General Assembly! This is called international geopolitical and geostrategic circumlocution and misadventure! Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria! Nigeria must outlive this noonday madness.”