By Seun Johnson
I READ the interview elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, granted a national newspaper. In it, he claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari has lost his integrity and that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo should step down in solidarity with Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s struggle for true federalism.
As a Nigerian and elder statesman, Chief Adebanjo is entitled to his opinion. But I am disappointed to say that coming from a man of his calibre, this is absolutely hogwash.
Chief Adebanjo’s verbal assault on President Buhari’s and Vice President Osinbajo’s integrity is nothing short of laughable. This administration has shown its determination to tackle corruption, which is evident in the number of cases involving the mismanagement of public funds that have come to light since 2015. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has also secured several convictions during this period, while revenue generating agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, have remitted record revenues unlike in the past. The implementation of the Treasury Single Account, TSA, has also successfully blocked leakages in the public sector.
It would also be recalled that President Buhari sacked the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke. This came in the heels of a thorough investigation which was conducted into the issues of alleged corruption.
The slow pace of the judiciary process has also encumbered the swiftness of convictions. The President believes in the rule of law and cannot just by singular fiat sentence any official accused of corruption without following due process.
Again, it is an open secret that Chief Adebanjo has never supported the administration of President Buhari, even before the elections. So it is expected that despite the obvious successes this administration has so far recorded, nothing would suffice for staunch critics like the Afenifere chief.
As a leader of the Afenifere, Adebanjo was one of the few who called for Yoruba not to vote for President Buhari because of the fact that Buhari hails from the North. For someone who is supposed to be an elder statesman in the country, it reeks of hypocrisy that he should call out the President simply because he is not from the same ethnic group as he is, and not because of his patriotism and determination to make the country better.
Also, in the area of restructuring, the likes of the Chief fail to point out that there are constitutional processes that should be followed in such a matter, but the elder statesman would choose to play the ostrich because of particular interests.
Adebanjo also wrongly painted “anybody opposing restructuring as an enemy of Nigerian unity and it is only those of us clamouring for restructuring who love the unity of this country,” does not paint the true picture of events or represent the President’s views.
On restructuring, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, clarified the position of the government.
He said, “Dividing Nigeria, going back to regions and all of those kinds of things, I do not believe that at all. I don’t think that we need to go back to regions. So, if there are people who believe that we must structure ourselves again along ethnic lines I don’t accept that that is the right way to go. So, when you say restructuring, I am sure that for many of us there are certain aspects of this restructuring that you may agree with or that you may not agree with. But as a general position, Nigeria always needs to be re-engineered, we have to keep restructuring, re-engineering.”
Chief Adebanjo and others calling for restructuring are basically clamouring for this along ethnic lines, which isn’t the best option for a country that wants to practice true federalism. It amounts to double-speak for Adebanjo to call for restructuring and at the same time call for true federalism. Subtlety fanning ethnic flames in the name of restructuring is not the way to go. Chief Adebanjo’s long held grievance against the North does not speak well of his sense of patriotism.
Hear Adebanjo in a previous interview: “Muhammadu Buhari must restructure the country in 2018. That is the only thing he can do to redeem his name.”
On the issue of herdsmen killings, President Buhari has, at several times, addressed the issue frontally. So claiming that President Buhari administration aids and bets it is at the least, divisive. Playing the tribal card on an issue of national interest would help no one. If any government has shown political will in tackling the herdsmen crisis, which predates this administration, it is the Buhari administration. Not only has President Buhari shown political will, he has acted on several front in addressing the issue.
In finding permanent solutions to the root causes of the herdsmen-farmers clashes in some parts of the country, this administration has indeed shown its commitment to ending the impunity of violence.
In doing this, President Buhari has tasked the nation’s security agencies to beef up security in communities where some of the violence occurred. In Benue State, for instance, additional five units of Police Mobile Force (PMF) were deployed to beef up other police formations on the ground in the state before the crisis.
Only recently, the military authorities in Makurdi, Benue State, arrested two suspected Fulani militia who were about to attack Gov. Samuel Ortom’s fish farm and other villages in Guma Local Government Area of the state. There have also been several arrests by the Nigeria Police and Army. Chief Adebanjo would gladly not point to this as it does nothing for his biased claims.
The Buhari administration keeps showing that it will not relent in its efforts to bring all criminals and other law offenders to justice.
*Mr. Johnson, a political analyst, wrote from Lagos.