Critics have descended on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari for plagiarising US President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory speech.
Buhari admitted that part of his recent “Change Begins With Me” speech was copied from Obama as he tried to rally Nigerians to stop bribing and littering.
The presidency was forced to issue a statement late Friday night acknowledging that the line was lifted from Obama’s speech.
“It was observed that the similarities between a paragraph in President Obama’s 2008 victory speech…are too close to be passed as coincidence,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement, adding that an “overzealous” speech writer will face “appropriate sanction”.
According to Sahara Reporters, Mamman Daura, a nephew of President Buhari and arguably the biggest power player in the government, was the source of the speech.
Daura is alleged to had hijacked the task of providing speeches for the Nigerian president, often throwing away draft speeches that he did not commission.
“It is possible he wrote it himself, or he went and asked somebody else to go and write it and bring. I can tell you that nobody writes speech anymore for President Buhari but Mamman Daura,” insiders in the presidency are quoted as saying.
Daura was behind President Buhari’s inauguration speech, which lifted a famous quote from the late French leader Charles de Gaulle.
The president’s nephew was also solely responsible for writing or commissioning Mr. Buhari’s now infamous speech entreating Nigerians to accept the idea of “Change begins with me.”
It is said the Presidency was trying to fool the public through its spokesman, Garba Shehu, who said a deputy director had written the now widely ridiculed speech.
Mr. Shehu had also declared that the speechwriter would be punished.
Critics questioned whether Buhari was reading his speeches before delivering them, and worried that the flub was tarnishing Nigeria’s image abroad as international leaders prepare to meet in New York this week for the UN General Assembly.
“The president and his aides just have to do better,” opposition party member Adeyanju Deji said in a Twitter post. “We plead guys, stop embarrassing our great nation.”