Buhari’s Speeches On Democracy Day Exposes Him As Not Acting In The Best Interest Of Nigerians—Afenifere

……Challenges Him To Send A Bill To NASS On Restructuring

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has described the recent public pronouncements of President Muhammadu Buhari as far short of what was expected of the president just as they exposed Buhari administration as one bent on taking steps that are not in the best interests of majority of Nigerians.

The organization was reacting to the speech made by the President to mark 2021 June 12 Democracy Day and the interviews he granted on Thursday and Friday last week respectively on Arise Television and the NTA.

In a press release issued by Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, the organization expressed its disappointment on the disclosure by the President that he had directed the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to ‘re-open’ the grazing routes throughout the country.

“We have some questions for Mr. President and the Attorney General in this respect. One, who created the so-called grazing routes? At what time in our history did our founding fathers gather to designate specific routes from the north to the south as ‘grazing routes’? Two, assuming without conceding, that there were so-called grazing routes, what would now happen to structures that have been built in areas where the so-called routes are to be re-opened? Would such structures, including residences and factories, be pulled down so that cows would have places to graze? Compared to what would be lost economically, socially, politically and in security terms if these structures are to be pulled down, is it not better to encourage the building of ranches? We can go on and on”.

The release added that the President’s pronouncement on this issue as well as his confession on how he determines who occupy positions at the national level seems to indicate that Buhari’s government is operating a constitution that is different from the  one that  we all are aware of, i.e. the 1999 Constitution.

“For instance, Section 2 of the Land Use Act, the law governing land matters in the country, vests the administration and control of lands in a given state in the hands of the governor of the state. It is such that even when the federal government wants to use a portion of land, it has to seek the consent of the governor of the state concerned. Since most governors in the country have outlawed open grazing in their respective states, on which land does the federal government want to ‘open’ or  ‘re-open’ its vaunted grazing routes? Why talking of grazing routes in this age when ranching is the fad in all civilized climes?” 

Also, Afenifere faults the president on his claim that he appointed the new Chief of Army Staff because of his experience. The body said that the appointment “like many others made by Buhari government are in flagrant defiance of the federal character clause in the Constitution as well as Section 5 subsection 2 of the same Constitution which states that “national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited”. From all indications, only in a few instances does the federal government allow equity, fairness and empirical merit to characterize the appointments he made. Thus, most of the appointments being made were done in such a way that some sections of the country were being alienated.

Afenifere further challenged President Buhari to, as a matter of urgency; send a bill to the National Assembly on restructuring and devolution of power if he wants Nigerians to believe that he meant what he says. By this the body’s spokesman was referring to the president’s speech in which he stated that he was a firm believer in devolving power to the people and that it was the National Assembly that can deal with the issue of restructuring and devolution of power. The president expressed this view when he hosted members of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) led by Co-Chairmen, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III and President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr Samson  Ayokunle, at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.

On the president’s claim that his administration has not done badly as he challenged Nigerians to compare what is obtainable now with that of 2015 when he took over, Afenifere declared that “Nigerians were far better off in virtually everything in 2015 than they are presently. For the President to claim that the country is better now than in 2015 clearly shows that he is not in touch with reality or that he has a different measurement when comparing the two eras”.

The body regretted that the president confessed the seeming helplessness of his administration in combating the insecurity that was about to consume the country presently. The president had said that he “was ‘more pained than anyone can imagine with the ongoing security challenges because… they have increased the hunger, pain and anger in the land’. President Buhari needs not tell us all these as we are already aware and are feeling it. What is expected of him is to take concrete steps to tackle the challenges he enumerated so perfectly”

The President was also accused of being insensitive going by what he (the President) confessed that he told Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State when the latter came to him with pictures of the destruction during the EndSars protest in Lagos. The president said that he told the governor not to bother replacing the burnt vehicles since Lagosians wanted to walk by burning the vehicles. “That type of attitude is unpresidential and revealed the depth of how insensitive the president is to the plight of Nigerians” Afenifere maintained.

To Afenifere, President Buhari seems to derive pleasure in shifting blames and responsibilities when pressed on what his government ought to do. Were this not be so, he would not have hidden his inability to confront insecurity problem on the excuse that state governors are allegedly pocketing allocations meant for the local government councils in their respective states. Also, he would not have sent Governors Seyi Makinde and Rotimi Akeredolu of Oyo and Ondo states back to go and face the insecurity problems in their states when he knew perfectly well that the tools to tackle the problem are not within the control of these governors. 

“The governors ran to him in his capacity as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. His sending them back empty handed can be likened to a father to whom children ran in the face of danger and the thoughtless father sent the children back to go and face the danger without providing them the weapon or tool with which to confront the danger. Especially since the governors are not in control of any force that they could use to tackle the insecurity challenges.”

The press release added that few of these governors that came up with innovative security apparati were inhibited by the actions of the federal government-controlled police who usually undermine the activities of the state security agencies like Amotekun of the South West. 

“In conclusion, Afenifere spokesman insisted that President Buhari’s recent pronouncements, rather than sooth the pains of Nigerians and give assurance on making Nigeria better, exposed his administration as one that is not in tune with the people’s aspirations.   

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