Democracy Day: Buhari’s speeches expose him as not serving Nigerians’ interest ―Afenifere

Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Sunday flayed President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech on Democracy Day, saying it was far short of what was expected of him and exposed his administration as one bent on taking steps that were not in the best interests of majority of Nigerians.

President Buhari had delivered a speech in a nationwide broadcast to mark 2021 June 12 Democracy Day and also granted interviews on Thursday and Friday last week respectively on Arise Television and the NTA.

Afenifere, in particular, expressed its disappointment on the disclosure by the president that he had directed the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, to re-open the grazing routes throughout the country, faulting Mr President and Malami on when the so-called grazing land was created, who created it, among several others.  

“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 group queried.

Afenifere said Buhari’s stand on planned re-opening of grazing routes as well as his confession on how he determined who occupied positions at the national level seemed to indicate that his government was operating a constitution that was different from the 1999 Constitution that all Nigerians were aware of.

The pan-Yoruba, while citing relevant section of the Land Use Act, noted that the law governing land matters in the country, vested the administration and control of lands in a given state in the hands of the state governor, saying that the law ensured and it mandatory that even when the Federal Government wants to use a portion of land, it had to seek the consent of the governor of the state concerned.

Afenifere wondered which land does the Federal Government wanted to open or re-open for its “vaunted grazing routes” since most governors in the country had outlawed open grazing in their respective states, adding: “Why talking of grazing routes in this age when ranching is the fad in all civilized climes?”

Besides, Afenifere also faulted President Buhari on his claim that he appointed the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major-Gen Farouk Yahaya, because of his experience.

According to it, Yahaya’s 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,” the group said.

On restructuring and devolution of power, Afenifere charged President Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, send a bill to the National Assembly on them if he wanted Nigerians to believe that he meant what he said.

The group said the call became imperative going by the president’s speech in which he pronounced himself as a firm believer in devolving power, and that it was the National Assembly that can deal with the issue of restructuring and devolution of power. 

The president had expressed this view about himself 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.

The group further faulted Buhari on his claim that his administration had not done badly compared to what obtained in 2015 when he took over.

Afenifere pointed said Buhari lied about the situation on the ground, declaring that Nigerians were far better off in virtually everything in 2015 than they were present.

Afenifere added that it shows that the president was not in touch with reality or that he has a different measurement when comparing the two eras for him to claim that the country was better now than then.

“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,” Afenifere stated.

Afenifere, while noting the confession of President Buhari on the seeming helplessness of his administration in combating the insecurity ravaging the country and how it pained him seeing the sufferings people were passing through, said Buhari needed not to tell Nigerians all these, but should take concrete steps to tackle the challenges he enumerated so perfectly.

The group, in the statement, accused him of being insensitive and unpresidential in his conduct going by his response to the issue of carnage that was witnessed in Lagos State, during the #EndSARS protests, an incident that witnessed the burning of buses and vehicles belonging to the state government and others, and which pictures were brought to him in Abuja by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Afenifere alleged that Buhari told Governor Sanwo-Olu 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 said.

“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 the 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 to in the face of danger and the thoughtless father sent the children back to go and face the danger without providing them with 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.

“And few of these governors that came up with innovative security apparatus 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,” the group added.

“President Buhari’s recent pronouncements, rather than soothe 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,” it declared.  

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