Speech by President Buhari, Good Machine – Prof Akinfeleye

President Buhari’s Speech is a Good Machine – Prof Akinfeleye.
Professor Ralph Akinfeleye, former Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, has described the 499-word nationwide broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari as “a good machine that does not have unnecessary parts”.

He stated this yesterday (Tuesday, August 22, 2017), in continuation of reactions to that broadcast during a telephone conversation on “This Morning”, a programme of TVC News Nigeria.

Regarding President Buhari’s speech, Professor Akinfeleye said, “The speech of the president in my judgement is so comprehensive, it is executive, as well as presidential”. Responding to critics who have blamed the President for failing to acknowledge the efforts of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in that speech, Professor Akinfeleye said: “The other issue about thanking the Vice-President is an aberration. The man has been doing an excellent job, and he knows that he has been doing his work. There is no need for him to go on television and say, ‘Thank you my Vice, you have done well’. Let us congratulate the President for coming back and give him the chance to do the job of change.”

The renowned Professor of Mass Communication also supported President Buhari’s perception of some Nigerians as having crossed the “red line” in their usage of the social media. He said: “On the issue of crossing the red line, the president was a commander. The blood is in him. If I were him, I would say the same thing on the social media. The social media went off course including the so-called gentleman who said somebody was on life support and he has pictures. Let him show the pictures now…. We have to stop this rubbish and allow the President move forward and revive this country and the economy….”

He said that although the social media has its utility, he sometimes regards users of that media as “information traffickers”. Professor Akinfeleye explained that unlike traditional media outfits, social media platforms are not responsible to anybody. In addition, he said “they don’t give any attribute to objectivity, fairness and balance. You can post anything you want on the platform. So, the President is very correct.”

However, Dr. Jide Johnson, Deputy Provost, Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), who featured as a guest on the programme, wondered why President Buhari was fed with news of matters arising from the social media during his stay in the United kingdom, considering his state of health at that time. He said: “The people managing the President, why did they allow the President when he was receiving treatment to have access to social media? This may have contributed to the President’s long stay in the UK. Good news is medicine to the body, while bad news is poison to the person. If you hear bad news it is depressing and depression is the greatest threat to healing.”

Also, Malachy Ugwummadu, Lawyer and National President of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) who featured as a guest on the programme, disagreed with Professor Ralph Akinfeleye’s description of the President’s speech. He said: “With due respect, I disagree with him. If a good machine needs no unnecessary parts, why was it expedient in the speech to speak directly to the issue of the resurgence of insecurity? That aspect of the directive given again to the law enforcement agencies to return to the victory that we have recorded was in response to the resurgence of insecurity in the north east. That could have amounted to unnecessary part.”

Earlier in the programme, Mr Ugummadu observed that Nigeria’s laws clearly spell out what should be done to those who spread hate speech. He said that Nigeria’s constitution expressly states that  Nigerians have the freedom to express themselves. However, he added that, “if you feel terribly bad about statements made, what you do is not to hound or to imprison, or to shut out those people from making those statements. What you are to do, even as government, is take them through the process of the law. This is precisely why you and I are familiar with laws regulating libel, defamation and the entire gamut of our law.”

The National President of CDHR explained that: “Section 4 of the anti-terrorism law (2011) clearly identified what must happen if somebody engages in hate-speech and it defines what a hate-speech means in section 2, sub section 1. It says, ‘any statement that is made with malice, intentionally and capable of dislocating harmony in the country, will amount to hate speech.’ My take is that for a president to come and zero in on that, in a manner that suggests that people are no longer free to express themselves, misses the point.”

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech and nationwide broadcast was made on Monday, August 21, 2017, two days after the President returned from a medical vacation in the United Kingdom. Many Nigerians were in suspense before that speech. However, it lasted for about five minutes and did not cover much, according to reactions sampled from some social and traditional media.

Meanwhile, “This Morning” is aired daily from 10.30am to 11.30 am weekdays,  on TVC News Nigeria. It is anchored by Yori Folarin who leads discussions with professionals from various fields of life.

  • Cornelius Ellah

Please See Related Posts:

President Buhari’s Speech is a Lion’s Roar – Sen. Shehu Sani (Here)
Government’s Handling of Hate Speech – Clement Nwankwo (Here)

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