President Buhari’s New Year’s Day Speech: The Rhetorics, the Criticism and the Analysis

President Buhari’s New Year’s Day Speech: The Rhetorics, the Criticism and the Analysis

Early morning of January 1st, 2021, the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation in a New Year Speech. The president who felicitated with Nigerians on the transition to a new year harped on the progress made so far by the country as well as challenges facing her as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, insecurity and economic downturn. The president said “while acknowledging that 2020 was a very tough year, we saw this year put to test our national resilience and ability to survive these tough times and also gave renewed hope that we will again brave any storms that lay ahead in 2021 and beyond.”

The president further said “In the midst of all these challenges, I had initially pledged that as your elected President and Commander-in-Chief, I would ensure that these ongoing challenges will be faced head-on with renewed determination and with all the appropriateness and urgency required.”

In deriving takeaways from the speech, a source identified  ten key points from the president’s speech. The source noted that President Buhari acknowledged the struggles of nation building in the country from independence; recognized the roles of youths and their creative energies; pledged commitment to implement the #EndSARS demands  and then hinted at reorganising the nation’s security apparatus.

Other points noted from the presidential speech included the president’s assurance of revamping the economy; ensuring timely and diligent prosecution of corruption cases as well as recognising the cog in the wheel roles of insecurity in the implementation of FG’s social policy; procuring and distributing the COVID 19 vaccines efficiently and effectively for the country. President Buhari ended the speech by charging the citizenry to also play their roles as the government plays its own part.

Nigeria leaders

In a reaction to the Presidential New Year Morning Speech, the People’s Democratic Party, the major opposition in the country has described the speech as empty. In a statement signed by the party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP described the president’s speech as “appalling” and “a regurgitated script full of lame excuses and empty promises that address nothing.” The PDP claimed that “President Buhari has not demonstrated the capacity to play his own part, as he claimed, having failed to find solutions to the security and economic challenges that pervades our nation under his incompetent and lethargic watch.” The party further took the president up on each focus area highlighted in his speech urging Nigerians to come together to collectively tackle the problems confronting the nation.

The President’s New Year speech has a total of 1,787 total words with 704 unique word forms. It has a vocabulary density of 0.394 and an average word per sentence stood at  29.8. The president has five most frequently used words consisting of “year”, “country”, “Nigeria”, “security” and “national.” The anchor of the speech centres on the country, Nigeria and year (See Exhibit 1 and 2).

Exhibit 1 : Frequently Used Words in PMB’s Speech (Source: Adebiyi,2021)

Public analysts have said the speech was not reassuring as the president failed to specifically point to definite policy statements on security, plans for COVID 19, recent ASUU strike and other burning issues in the country. Whatever the analysts must have said, the rest of the year as it unfolds will tell.


Exhibit 2: The connection between the words in PMB’s Speech (Source : Adebiyi, 2021)

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