Afenifere Faults Buhari’s 61st Independence Anniversary Broadcast

…..Says It’s Another Evidence Of Disconnect And Dishonesty  On The Part Of Those Leading The Country

Pan Yoruba Socio-Political organisation, Afenifere has faulted the Independence broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that it shows that there’s disconnect and dishonesty on the part of those leading the country.

Reacting to the 61st Independence anniversary speech, Afenifere Spokesman, Comrade Jare Ajayi said this was the summary of the assessment made of the broadcast .

According to Afenifere, the picture painted by President Buhari of the Nigeria situation was at variance with what is on ground.

Ajayi began his analysis by drawing a parallel between what the president said last year and this year.

“In the 16th paragraph of his 2020 Independence anniversary speech, the president conceded that the country’s major institutions – and by implication, the services they were supposed to render to the nation – were on the decline. In his words, “institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline”.  According to Afenifere spokesman, “there is no indication on ground that this assessment given last year by the president has changed for the better. The services being rendered to the people of Nigeria by these institutions continue to be on the decline in terms of value delivery. The reason for this being lack of requisite resources and motivation.

It is therefore unfair on the part of the president to accuse ‘critics’ of misdiagnosing “incremental progress as stagnation” as he did in his 2021 independence anniversary speech.”

Afenifere further said that the president’s claim that a lot has been achieved in the last six years “in infrastructure, social care, governance, Nigeria’s image and influence in Africa and the international community” is against the reality on the ground. There has never been a time in the annals of modern Nigeria that the country’s infrastructure was this decadent, social care near-absent and the image of the country was so battered. Indeed, the difference between now and in the days of the late Sani Abacha was that the head of state then was wearing Khaki while the present head of government wears civilian dress and there are democratic institutions like the legislature that were absent then. In terms of the country’s influence in Africa, how many countries in Africa now respect Nigeria going by the inhuman treatments Nigerians are subjected into in different parts of the world including Africa these days?

On the economic front, Nigerians have never had to pay through their noses for services and commodities as they are now forced to do. As at the time President Buhari assumed office in 2015, a bag of rice was around N7,000 while a US dollar exchanged for about N180 even in the black market. Today, a bag of rice is almost N30,000 while a dollar exchanges for nearly N600. The situation was so bad that Nigeria has been declared as the world capital of poverty. What is the justification therefore for the president’s claim that the lot of the poor in the country is better under his administration than it was under the previous administration. 

Ajayi also picked hole in the president’s claim that “No government since 1999 has done what we have done in six years to put Nigeria back on track.” According to him, his administration was actually the one that has taken Nigeria off the track going by the quantum of indebtedness the country now carries without much to show for the heavy debt, the level of disunity and mistrust among Nigerians, the hopelessness among the youths and the elderly and the collapse of the social services such as education, health and transport. 

The president is also not fair to Nigerians by comparing the selling price of fuel to that of countries like Saudi Arabia, Ghana etc since the purchasing power parity is not the same and social welfare in these countries is far ahead of that of Nigeria – which has virtually none. 

Afenifere spokesman also called on the president to be more sincere and live up to his words that his administration will listen to the people. Quoting President Buhari where he said that “We shall continue to serve the country: listen to all and protect our democracy and country,” Ajayi said that there are many instances in which Buhari-led government has shown that the people did not matter. Some instances that can be immediately cited were various court judgments that the government spurned once these judgments are not in its favour, various agreements it reached with trade unions and it failed to honour and government policies that the people kicked against but the government went ahead or tried to go ahead to impose them. Among these were the increase in VAT, increase in petroleum prices, re-opening of the phantom grazing routes, herdsmen colony, transmission of elections results through electronic means etc. 

To Ajayi , the greatest area in which the government has failed in recent times is in the area of security. “Whatever infrastructure government put in place, it is only those who are alive and in good condition that can enjoy these things. But how can those who have been killed, kidnapped or maimed by terrorists enjoy those infrastructures the president is thrilled to say that his government is putting in place?

In conclusion, Afenifere said that it is heartwarming that the president promised to ‘listen to all and protect democracy”.

“One sure way to do this is do away with impunity, nepotism, be more sincere in its tackling of security challenges in the country and above all, allow restructuring to take place so that peoples of Nigeria can sit down and decide on the modality for their continued staying together in a United Nigeria that is truly federal.”

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