By Dapo Akinrefon
THE Southern Leaders Forum has lampooned President Muhammadu Buhari over directive to the World Bank to concentrate on the Northern region, saying such directive was discriminatory.
The forum said the directive, which was revealed by President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, is sectional and divisive.
In a statement by Messrs Guy Ikokwu (South-East), Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Yinka Odumakin (South-West), the forum faulted the Presidency’s response to the matter, noting: “The Presidency should be more nuanced, speak the language of persuasion and not behave as if it is at war with Nigerians.”
The forum, however, said the disclosure by the World Bank chief had raised the need to restructure Nigeria.
It said:“This gaffe has again raised the urgent need for the restructuring of Nigeria so that the constituent units of Nigeria do not have to struggle to control or pray for the mind of whoever is at the centre before they can witness development.
“This directive without mincing words is sectional, discriminatory, divisive and against the laudable promise of Mr President at his inauguration that he would not be beholden to anyone as he was elected to be the President of everybody.
“It riles the more when we have a situation of provocative deployment of “Operation Python Dance” and “Crocodile Smile” to a section of the country while the World Bank is being despatched to another.
“Giving instructions to the World Bank to concentrate on a section of the country where the President hails from throws a knife at the heart of our nationhood and challenges the hackneyed expression that the ‘unity of Nigeria is settled’.
“There can never be any rational explanation for why such a request should be made by a President with a pan-Nigerian mandate. The only explanation that would have convinced was if we were told that such a discussion did not take place at all.”
“We have also studied the very rude, bellicose, insensitive and knee-jerk response from the Presidency on the matter. The unfortunate tirade from the office of the President showed a very deep contempt and palpable impunity as 90% of its content was devoted to abusing those who have shown rightful indignation at such a development. It is not on record that even the British colonial masters addressed Nigerians in such scornful and brash language.
“The only tepid explanation in the spiteful statement was that the President’s request was for the reconstruction of the North East. But Kim was emphatic about “northern region” and not North East.’’