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Buhari to make nationwide broadcast tonight

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will broadcast to the nation on Sunday evening, a presidential spokesman has said.

The broadcast, scheduled for 7 pm, will be on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), according to his media adviser Femi Adesina.

He urged all television, radio and other electronic media outlets to connect to the network.

Although the president’s media team did not state the agenda for the broadcast, he would most likely be addressing the nation, like many other countries, about the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria.

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The broadcast is coming a month after the country reported its first case of coronavirus on 27 February 2020. Nigeria has since reported 96 more cases since then.

The president had communicated with the countrymen through press statements by his aides, Twitter and various government agencies.

Critics faulted the president’s choice of not addressing the country directly like many of his counterparts across the world, citing it as strange, but not unfamiliar, in this trying time.

Former World Bank vice presient for Africa Obey Ezekwesili said Buhari’s decision to not address the country was “insensitive”.

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“Let President Buhari come out of his self-isolation and lead his country and people to win these wars,” Ezekwesili said in a statement signed by her media aide Ozioma Ubabukoh. ” The economic impact of the health crisis will be severe on our majority’s extremely poor of more than 93 million.”

Some Nigerian even rumoured that Buhari was seriously sick and have been flown out of the country since Wednesday night. While some Nigerians reacted to the rumours as a crude joke, others took it more seriously. In fact, some believed the story on the premise that Buhari may have contracted coronavirus from his chief of staff Abba Kyari, who tested the positive for the virus.

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The hashtags #BuhariChallenge and #WhereIsBuhari were created and trended on Twitter in Nigeria.

But Buhari’s spokesperson Femi Adesina said on Thursday while appearing on a Channels Television that Buhari’s silence is ‘a matter of style.”

A member of the president’s media team Ayo Akanji also told The Guardian that “this President is not a showman” and that Buhari believes in “delegating power and staying behind to evaluate the task given and its impact.”

A ruling All Progressives Congress Senator representing Osun Central Senatorial District Ajibola Basiru on Thursday also said the president did not have to address Nigerians, noting that he is not “the public relation officer for the country.”

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Presidential media aides also denied the claims of Buhari receiving treatment outside with a picture showing the president studying in his office till late night on Thursday. Another video was released showing Buhari receiving the Health Minister Osagie Ehanire and the director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Chikwe Ihekweazu on Saturday afternoon.

Before then, Buhari’s personal assistant of new media Bashir Ahmad, last Sunday shared a video of President Buhari speaking on the coronavirus pandemic. But the video was later deleted after Buhari was mocked for mispronouncing ‘COVID-19’ as “COVID One Nine.”

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