In recent weeks, Nigeria has been in the news following series of nationwide protests against police brutality and, subsequently, the violent crackdown on unarmed protesters all over the country, notably in Lekki Lagos, where up to 15 unarmed protesters were reported dead after soldiers of the Nigerian Army opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators. The gruesome move, now dubbed “The Lekki Massacre,” has received widespread global condemnation, including statements from such figures as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and António Guterres.
In a long-awaited presidential address, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari issued what many believe was a glib, unsympathetic rhetoric with threatening undertones. The pre-recorded speech was also alarmingly insistent in its refusal to mention or acknowledge the allegations of government-approved killings in Lekki.
Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has since come to the rescue. Barely a few days after her op-ed in The New York Times, Adichie published an article in The Guardian Nigeria, titled “The Address President Buhari Could Have Given.” Adichie’s version is not only sympathetic but also all-encompassing. If only Buhari’s speechwriter would borrow a leaf for future addresses.
Read an excerpt below:
This is a difficult time for our nation, but together we will prevail.
On Tuesday, October 20th, 2020, in the Lekki area of Lagos, innocent Nigerians exercising their democratic right to protest were attacked by soldiers of the Nigerian Army. Some died. Many were injured. This terrible incidence has no place in our country. The role of the Nigerian Army is to protect the lives of Nigerian citizens.
I condole with the families of those who were killed and with all those who were injured. I have ordered an immediate investigation and have directed that a report be presented to me in the next five days.
As commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, the ultimate responsibility is mine. This is not a time for vague words or generic promises. This is a time for action and I am determined to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice.
Restitution is an essential element of justice. I have directed that all hospital bills of the injured be paid by the federal government. The families of those who were killed, as well as the injured, will receive compensation from the federal government. This compensation is merely a small way of acknowledging the pain and suffering of innocent citizens. It is not intended in any way to dismiss or minimize what happened. We are already reaching out to identify those who deserve compensation. Our Twitter handle @NGRPresident will release further information shortly.
Continue reading here.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s photo by Martin Schulz via Flickr.