15th October, 2021
The Pan-Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere has blasted the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina for comparing President Muhammadu Buhari to Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and other greats.
Adesina, in his article titled: “The Essential Buhari: VP Osinbajo got it,” said “I am old enough to have seen our colorful and even swashbuckling politicians in action. I have seen the great Obafemi Awolowo. The charismatic Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik of Africa). Shehu Shagari. Amino Kano. M.K.O Abiola. Bashir Tofa, and many others in action. But I have not seen anyone with the kind of attraction, magnetic pull, that Muhammadu Buhari has. And that is round the country, north and south. People swarm round him as bees do to honey.
“I have been round the country with the President. I have also been to several countries of the world with him. I have not seen any other Nigerian leader, past or present, with his kind of allure, pull, fascination, magnetism. And that is why VP Osinbajo is right to have described him as possibly “the most popular Nigerian politician that we ever had in this generation.”
But Afenifere, in a statement on Friday, issued by its spokesman, Jare Ajayi said “Comparing President Buhari to Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe therefore is not only mistaken, it is mischievous to say the least.”
The group said Awolowo was a Nigerian nationalist, political leader, writer and a principal participant in the country’s struggle for independence, as he was famed as the president who never ruled Nigeria.
“Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe, PC, usually referred to as “Zik”, was a Nigerian statesman and political leader who served as the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. Considered a driving force behind the nation’s independence, he came to be known as the “father of Nigerian Nationalism”.
Afenifere said there was no way Buhari could be compared to these great men and founding fathers of Nigeria.
The group said for sure and for various reasons, a person occupying a leadership position is always an attraction anywhere in the world.
He argued that to use the instances cited by Adesina 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. The mistrust that governments created over the years through its various policies of alienation and disempowerment,” he added.
Afenifere argued that from the foregoing, it could be stated without equivocation that the majority of the crowd Adesina 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.