Comparing Buhari To Awolowo And Azikiwe Mischievous-Afenifere

When contacted for a reaction, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, the Pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Comrade Jare Ajayi said that the assertion by the Presidential spokesman could be regarded as an unwitting invitation for people to assess Mr President.

It can be true that ‘Nigeria is stronger, better off as one united entity’. 

It is however very important to note that the envisaged unity can occur –  and endure – conditionally.

The unity of any country, particularly Nigeria, is predicated on equity, fairness and justice. It is predicated on every section of the country to have an equal sense of belonging not one in which a group or section is lording it over the others – as is happening in Nigeria presently.

Also, ‘issues we have can always be resolved without breaking into splinters’. This statement is an admission that there are issues to be resolved. Resolving an issue calls for a meeting or meetings of the parties involved. The ‘parties involved’ in the Nigeria project are the Nigerian peoples. To resolve the issues constituting problems for us in Nigeria therefore means that the stakeholders must sit down and discuss.

This is what we in Afenifere and some other nationality groups, professional organisations and civil rights groups have been calling for. We are conscious of the fact that there is strength not only in staying together but also in unity. But it can not be an enforced unity in which some entities are encumbered.

This leads me to another aspect of the assertion by the Presidential spokesman to wit: ‘People swarm round him (President Muhammadu Buhari) as bees do to honey’.

For sure – and for various reasons – a person occupying a leadership position is always an attraction anywhere in the world.

To use the instances cited by the spokesman to gauge the popularity of the President, we can say that those who met him at the airport on his arrival from a medical trip could be in three or more categories. Those who genuinely wished him well and were happy to see him back. Those who were there to be really sure that the rumour of his death they heard was not true. And those who always go to any place that people gather – especially when or where a leading figure is or will be present.

To use the crowd that gathered where President Buhari is not only as a measure of his popularity is erroneous. Admittedly, crowd pulling can be an indicator of popularity. But this is not likely now given the level of mistrust that people have in governments. Mistrust that governments created over the years through its various policies of alienation and disempowerment. From the foregoing, it can be stated without equivocation that majority of the crowd the spokesman talked about would be those curious to see whether their presence and prayers could make Mr President to see that they are suffering and in need of benign policies from the government.

Comparing President Buhari to Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe therefore is not only mistaken, it is mischievous to say the least.

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