An Afenifere chieftain gave an interview to a mainstream newspaper a couple of weeks ago in which he heaped all the so called suffering the Yoruba race was facing in Buhari’s government on one man. According to this chieftain, he had warned Asiwaju Bola Tinubu not to align with Buhari and lead Yoruba into what he inferred to be another northern domination.
He couldn’t resist gloating in the interview as he declared that Tinubu got ‘nothing’ for his foolhardiness except humiliation. Now, if this was the assertion of one man, I would simply say he is entitled to his opinion. But this seems to be the orchestrated refrain of some leading Afenifere members. Afenifere is a socio/cultural Yoruba group which claims to represent Yoruba interests and therefore, my interests.
I voted for Buhari along with many of my friends. And judging from the way we all monitored the polls, many people also voted along that direction. I know I didn’t vote for Buhari because one man, however powerful, said so. To imply that is to insult my intelligence and that of the many enlightened people who voted for Buhari. In fact, I voted against Tinubu’s wife for whatever it was worth because I didn’t, and still don’t think she should be in the Senate. And if anybody should have a personal thing against Buhari, I should.
I was locked up, unjustly in my view, during his first outing as a Head of State. But the only other choice we had in the 2015 election was Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan whom I also voted for in 2011 by the way, had run a thoroughly incompetent government. Not only was his administration corrupt and undisciplined, it was divisive. Those who talk about the Islamisation of the country today forget the time Jonathan was openly courting G.Os and prophets and crunching the religious numbers to the obvious dissatisfaction of non-Christians. Yes, that other choice which Afenifere wanted me to vote for was a dangerous bull in a China shop, doing harm to himself and everything around him.
Besides, to assert that Yoruba people largely voted for Buhari because Tinubu said so is to admit the growing irrelevance of Afenifere in the affairs of the Yoruba nation. There was a time when the only thing the Yorubas would say if Afenifere asked them to jump would be ‘how high.’ Only the Afenifere members can tell at what point the rain started to beat this once revered group; meaning at what point did a single man’s point of view hold sway over that of a group that helped in positioning him in the first instance.
At what point did these lofty men of ideas, these Yoruba ‘gods’ develop feet of clay and capitulated to internal squabbles born out of jealousy, ego, obduracy and possibly greed? Afenifere today is not the same as in the days of Pa Ajasin, Pa Adesanya and Uncle Ige either in ideas or ideals. To become relevant again, the group has to develop a barometer with which to gauge the pulse of the people it claims to represent. It has to identify, and approximate the interests of its people. It has to be visionary in charting the future rather than live in the past. More importantly, it has to be sacrificially selfless as its progenitors once were. That there are currently two Afenifere groups is in itself a shame.
Now to the assertion that Yoruba are ‘suffering’ under the Buhari government. I really don’t know what yardstick was used to make that assertion. If you look at this government with the Nigerian mind set which views representation as largess, then the Yoruba race is well positioned in this government. It has arguably, the most powerful Vice President in the Third Republic. That he is not another ‘Idiagbon’ in influence and exercise of powers is largely due to his self-effacing character and disdain for political intrigues.
But there is no doubt that he has been entrusted with a wide range of responsibilities by his boss and that accounts for a lot. What Osinbajo lacks in political savvy however, Saraki, the Senate President and another man of Yoruba stock, has aplenty. Then the Ministers; from the ‘triple minister’ to the Finance Minister, the Yoruba are strategically placed to effect change for race and country. If that is not happening, it is because the system makes real change difficult. It is because representation does not translate into an improved welfare for the people.
So, if the Yoruba race is suffering today, it is not suffering more than in the Jonathan government, the Yar’Adua government or even the Obasanjo government. It is in my view, certainly not suffering more than other major tribes in the country including the Hausa-Fulani race which is currently in government. Nigerians everywhere, are suffering from bad governance, decaying infrastructure, poor health and general poverty. They are suffering because the elites, irrespective of tribe or party affiliation, take care of themselves. It is self–serving therefore, to point an accusing finger at Tinubu or even at Buhari alone for the state of the Yoruba nation.
The state governors cannot be absolved of guilt. When the governors talk glibly about devolution of power, I know it is because they want more money. But you have got to ask how prudent or accountable they have been with what they have. State roads are as bad as Federal roads if not worse. The State Civil Service is as corrupt. The ease of doing business is bad everywhere.
They talk glibly about the need to create new jobs. Yet the obstacles they place in front of serious entrepreneurship are enormous. Every new business is chocked almost to death from inception by bureaucracy, corruption, infrastructural deficit and multiple taxation.
You can hardly blame the centre for the failure to do rural roads, provide pipe borne water, manage basic schools while encouraging your people to learn how to catch fish. Then the priorities of these Governors are suspect. They think more in terms of elephant projects than on things that will genuinely improve the lot of their people.
I think we all need to understand that many of those who delight in the blame game do so for selfish purposes. So do those who seek to position one tribe ahead of the other. Ideally, a good administration should be for nobody and everybody. Ideally, no one should help put another in power for what he can personally benefit from it. What we also need to understand is that our democracy gives us a term of four years to elect new leaders. No matter what anybody might say, Buhari was chosen over Jonathan because he was a better alternative at that point in time. If he has failed us as many now believe, here is hoping for a better alternative in 2019.