By Wright Bankole
Nigerians on Friday congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari today, on his 74th birthday and his daughter’s wedding, however, they also voice their lament regarding the hard times, hunger and suffering in the land.
Zahra, the President’s daughter, got married to Ahmed Indimi, the son of a multi-billionaire oil tycoon, Mohammed Indimi, on Friday.
While prominent Nigerians, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara and Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, rejoiced with the President and prayed for his good health, many people went to the facebook account of the First Lady, Aisha, and other social media platforms, to draw the President’s attention to hunger, suffering and hard times in the land.
In his birthday message to the President, Dogara described Buhari’s leadership as “divine,” adding that Nigerians have confidence in him to lead the country to prosperity.
Dogara’s wishes were contained in a message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan, on Friday.
Also, in a statement by Enelamah’s Communications Adviser, Constance Ikokwu, the minister said, “As you celebrate your birthday, we rejoice with you. We also join you to thank God for the gift of life. We pray for good health today and always. Happy Birthday!”
President also received congratulatory messages to the family and lamenting about the harsh economy, a Facebook user, Kingsley Obinna Nwafor, said, “Aisha, you’re a good woman. I love you for being a real and truthful woman. But please, tell your husband that we’re dying of hunger. I would appreciate if he could do something about it.
“We’re no more asking him to improve the situation of Nigeria, but only to return it to the situation where it was when (former President Goodluck) Jonathan handed over to him. I know you’re a mother and you can feel the pains of your children. Nevertheless, happy married life to your daughter. Enjoy while we’re crying, no problem, there’s God. Allah sees us all.”
Also, a Twitter user, Velvet with the handle @lavenderhse, said, “May the wedding of Zahra and Ahmed end the hardship and suffering of Nigerians (and) create jobs for the unemployed youths. Amen!”
Another Twitter user, Vegas Lukson, with the handle @DavidLucky26, tweeted to Mrs. Buhari, saying, “Please tell your husband to bring back our economy.”
Enelamah’s counterpart in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, described the President as a patriot who spent his youthful days fighting for the unity of Nigeria.
A former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, in a goodwill message on his twitter handle @Atiku, said, “Happy birthday, Mr. President @MBuhari. I wish you more wisdom and strength as you continue running the affairs of our dear nation.”
Also, a former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on Friday congratulated Buhari on his 74th birthday and on the occasion of his daughter’s wedding.
In a statement from his Media Adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, the former president said, “On the occasion of your 74th birthday, I write to congratulate and felicitate with you. I pray that this day meets you well and that there shall be many happy returns.
“I also use this opportunity to congratulate you once more as your daughter, Zarah, is given away in marriage to Ahmed Indimi.
“May God bless this union and may it bring joy to the couple and their families. Always wishing you the best.”
The President had on Friday hosted dignitaries to a lunch as part of the programmes for his daughter’s wedding.
The lunch, which was attended by top government officials, state governors, captains of industry, members of the diplomatic corps and chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, was held inside the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It was held shortly after the Nikai, which was held inside the National Mosque, Abuja.
Factional Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff, a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, and another former Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, attended the Nikai.
Journalists were asked to excuse them at the lunch which was said to be strictly private.
Other dignitaries in attendance included former Chairman of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Dogara; National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun; a former national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, and a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Others included Mr. Femi Otedola, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr. Jim Ovia, members of the Federal Executive Council and some members of the National Assembly.
Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, was the only state governor belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party at the lunch.
Congratulating the President on his birthday and his daughter’s wedding, a former commissioner, Lagos Police Command, Abubakar Tsav, said, “I wish Mr. President happy birthday, sound health and many more years. I also wish his daughter, Zahra, happy married life.”
Also, the Oluwo of Iwo, Osun State, Oba Abdul-Rasheed Akanbi, congratulated the President on his birthday and his daughter’s wedding.
He said, “Greetings to the President. The whole of Iwoland is wishing him and his daughter all the best. For now, he’s the best President this country has ever produced because of his anti-corruption war.”
An obviously happy Aisha had posted some wedding pictures of her daughter on Facebook and Twitter. But, this provided the opportunity for many social media users to express their hunger and the need for better programmes by the President.
Quadir Zakariyah, with the Twitter handle @zakbadr, said, “Congrats to the couple. But there is hunger in the land. No changes seen. I hope the change is not an illusion.”
While commenting on Zahra’s wedding on an online forum, www.nairaland.com, a user with the pseudonym, eanestca, wrote, “That’s the problem with this country; there is hunger in the land. This nation’s economy is doing badly and yet the President organised a royal wedding for her daughter.”
A Facebook user, Chinonso Obi, who commented on Zahra’s wedding pictures, wrote that the First Lady should beg the President to bring relief to the sufferings of Nigerians by virtue of Zahra’s wedding.
He said, “Mr. President, you are happy, your daughter is wedding. In the same manner that you are happy, please also make Nigerians happy. This suffering is too much. We have lost jobs and businesses. My brother just got sacked last week due to the recession. Now he’s on the streets again.
“Please make us happy. We wanted good change when you were voted into power, but what we’re experiencing right now is a negative change. Please give us hope again. Thank you.”
Congratulating Zahra on her wedding, a Nigerian, simply identified as Esther wrote on www.bellanaija.com, “I will still wish you a happy married life in spite of the hardship your father has thrown this country into. There’s nothing that’s impossible for God, your father should remember that he will not be on the seat of power forever.”
One Chikala also wrote, “First, happy married life to Zahra and her hubby, but we should not forget that many Nigerians are hungry and unhappy. The President should as a matter of urgency fix this economy.”
As for another social media user on the blog, known simply as Stacey, she said she would have congratulated the President but for the harsh economic situation the country is in.
She said, “The country is in the middle of a recession; food prices have tripled, and I come online with my hard-earned data (which they are planning to increase its price) to see the President’s daughter wed. Though I am happy for her, I would have congratulated the President better if he had done the right thing.
“The right thing is for the President to fix the economy quickly. People are hungry, we are suffering. Things have not been too cool since the President got into power. There is hardship.”
A commenter on www.nairaland.com with the username Promismike, said, “Nigerians are hungry, please! All we want to hear and see are things that give us hope, not things that make us feel cheated and underprivileged.”
A Nigerian Facebook user, who lives in Uganda, Dauda Umar, while congratulating the President, also asked him to think of catering to the welfare of Nigerians.
Commenting on the first lady’s pictures, he wrote, “Let me remind you that millions of Nigerians are starving in your hands outside Nigeria and even in the country due to (the) jungle policy of your husband. For God’s sake, why the suspension of international transactions?
“With due respect, First Lady, do you know how many Nigerian students (that) are homeless and frustrated because of the foolish policies of your husband that are affecting us abroad? But you and your family are there celebrating the wedding of your precious daughter. Please your excellency, think about these things. I wish you and your family all the best. May God bless their union.”
David Abioye also wrote on Facebook, saying, “Please, give us hope, not Zahra’s wedding pictures. We are hungry. We cannot continue to suffer while you give your daughter away to a rich man.
“This country’s economy has tumbled ever since you got into power. What are you doing to fix things back? We don’t want more from you again, Mr. President. Just take us back to where you picked us from.”
On Twitter, a user, Seun Alade, with the handle, @seun4real, also called on the President to make Nigerians happy again.
“As you have made your daughter happy, also make us happy. We are all your children,” he wrote