The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and its northern counterpart, the Arewa Consultative Forum, on Sunday, criticised the speech made by the President Muhammadu Buhari on Independence Day.
President Buhari had, in the broadcast, said irresponsible groups had hijacked the restructuring debate, decrying what he called the folly of “hot-headed” youths.
According to the ACF, the broadcast was timely, but Afenifere said the advocates of a restructuring meant well for the country.
Alhaji Muhammad Biu who is the National Publicity Secretary of the Forum told newsmen in Kaduna that the broadcast was a scorecard of the President’s administration on security, economy and corruption. He noted that the ACF advocated peaceful and meaningful dialogue on all issues of national importance and the use of democratic institutions to achieve better results.
The statement released by the group reads,
“The President’s independence anniversary speech was timely and appropriate considering the issues raised. It was a scorecard of the Buhari administration on security, economy and corruption which was the hallmark of his campaign promises.
“On the issue of restructuring, we totally support the position of the President which has been our position all along.
“Agitations that come with threats and intimidation have no place in our present democratic dispensation. The ACF will, therefore, support any restructuring that comes with clarity of purpose, just, fair and equitable to all sections of the country.”
Speaking in an interview, Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin said Mr. Buhari should distinguish between the two camps and take the necessary steps to salvage the nation. He added that the president was promoting those agitating for the break-up of the country by ignoring the demands of Nigerians for restructuring.
“He should separate those agitating for restructuring from those calling for a break-up of the country. I think he is confusing restructuring with break-up,” Odumakin stated.
“Those calling for restructuring are those working to avert the breakup of Nigeria while those opposed to it are the ones working for the break-up of the country.
“Let the President deal with restructuring; if he does not listen to the agitation for restructuring, he is promoting those who are working for the break-up of the country.”
A northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said the speech by the President was “not realistic,” noting that some of the claims of Buhari were not true.
According to the Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, the government, the speech could have been an avenue to mobilise and regain the confidence of the people.
“Some of the claims the President made were clearly dishonest. For example, he claimed that his agricultural policies have been a success. As far as I am concerned, that cannot be true because I don’t even know the policies.
“If I don’t, I am sure millions of other Nigerians don’t know too. When you see the functionality of a policy, you know it is working.”
Furthermore, The National Coordinator of the group, Deji Adeyanju, attributed the agitations for secession by the South-East youths to Buhari’s style of governance and actions.
“The President should look all around him; the Director General of Department of State Services is from his village; the people in charge of INEC are his kinsmen and all the service chiefs are from the North.
“If he looks around him, he would find the answers to why people are making the agitations for restructuring,” he added.