- Femi Gbajabiamila, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa and Leo Ogor, have condemned the president’s handlers for Buhari’s choice of language in conveying his Sallah message to Nigerians
- Buhari on Sunday, June 25, used Hausa language to pass across his Sallah message in a nation with more than 350 ethnic groups
- Prominent Nigerians have berated him and his media team for his decision to use Hausa to pass his message across to Nigerians
An audio message containing President Muhammadu Buhari’s message to Nigerians to mark the Eid-el-Fitr, commemorating the end of Ramadan, has continued to trigger negative reactions.
Recall that groups like the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group Afenifere, and prominent Nigerians had on Sunday, June 25, berated Buhari for his decision to use Hausa to pass across his Sallah message in a nation with more than 350 ethnic groups.
Reacting also, Femi Gbajabiamila, the majority leader in the House of Representatives and other lawmakers have faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s choice of Hausa to convey his Sallah message to Nigerians.
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In an interview with The Punch on Monday, June 26, Gbajabiamila and the Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, condemned the president’s handlers for Buhari’s choice of language in conveying his message to Nigerians.
Gbajabiamila, who is also the All Progressives Congress caucus leader in the House, said the criticisms by different groups and individuals were not unfounded.
Although Gbajabiamila argued that what was most important was that people heard Buhari’s voice, he admitted that the President’s handlers should have ensured that the language of communication was English.
Gbajabiamila said: “The criticism is not unfounded, but I am the leader of the House in charge of government legislative business not a Presidential handler.
“I think that question should be directed to those who handle Mr. President. But as a matter of opinion, I would have preferred he spoke in English. But, again, not every Nigerian speak English, not everyone is literate.
“Yes, at this critical time and with all that is unfolding, it would have been better to speak in the official language.
“However, moving beyond the form to the substance, at least now, we have heard Mr. President speak.”
On his part, Ado-Doguwa, an APC member from Kano state said that Buhari should have sent a message to Nigerians in English and not in Hausa.
Ado-Doguwa believed the decision was an oversight by the President’s handlers and should be overlooked.
He said: “To be candid, Mr. President should have spoken in English, being our official language.
“But for me, it is an oversight that could be overlooked considering his medical conditions.
“Let us not trivialise everything. The most important thing for now is for Nigerians to pray for Mr. President’s recovery.”
On his part, Leo Ogor, the minority leader of the House said that by speaking in Hausa, it meant that Buhari attempted to divide the Muslim brothers and sisters who were supposed to hear his message.
He observed that there were Muslims in the South who did not speak or understand Hausa.
He said: “Are we saying that the Muslims in the South-South, the South-West and the South-East were not supposed to hear the greeting?
“Our lingua franca in Nigeria is not purely Hausa.”
He stated that while Buhari might have “good intentions” in sending the message, his media managers failed to advise him properly on how to go about it.
Ogor said: “For the President to even think of greeting Nigerians, despite his ill health, means that he had good intentions.
“However, his media team did not do a good job. They should know that not all Nigerians speak Hausa.
“Going forward, the President should use a more general language.
“His message is also a sign that he is recovering and we wish him well. We want him to return and address the myriads of challenges confronting Nigeria.”
Earlier, NAIJ.com reported that Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Service had aired the audio tape of the President’s message on Sunday, June 25, while the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had also released a statement on Buhari’s Sallah message on Saturday, June 24.
Shehu’s statement translated Buhari’s message as saying, “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.”
Watch this NAIJ.com TV video of Nigerians sharing their opinion on President Buhari's imminent return