I watched, with considerable amusement, Femi Adesina’s interview on Channels TV on Wednesday, September 17, 2020, wherein Femi said that his boss, General Muhammadu Buhari, inherited a badly divided nation from former President Goodluck Jonathan, and has been working to unite her.
Mr Adesina said:
“As of 2015, when President Buhari came, Nigeria was terribly, terribly divided; divided along religious lines, divided along ethnic lines; divided along language, divided hopelessly, terribly and that is the division that the President had been working at.”
Well, it is true that there are some fault lines in Nigeria, as there are in many other nations, however, it is false to say that Nigeria was badly divided under Jonathan and that General Buhari has been trying to repair that division. In proof of this, I call Nigerians to mind that, to cement Nigeria’s unity, then President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated a national conference on Monday, 17 March 2014, with terms of reference, which included coming up with recommendations that would help unite Nigeria. Then President Jonathan insisted that resolutions of the national conference be reached by either a consensus or a 75% majority threshold (3/4 majority). Many people scoffed and said that it was not possible to achieve that type of consensus. But President Jonathan achieved it by managing our diversity.
Over 600 resolutions were reached, by each and every ethnic nationality in Nigeria, by consensus. That this was possible is a testament to how Jonathan built the kind of unity that no other President had built before him. Speaking during the submission of the Conference resolutions to him on Thursday, August 21, 2014, then President Jonathan said:
“When I was inaugurating the Presidential Advisory Committee in December last year, I made it very clear to the committee that it was a sincere and fundamental undertaking, aimed at realistically examining and genuinely resolving, longstanding impediments to our cohesion and harmonious development as a truly united nation. At the inauguration of the National Conference in March, I told you the Delegates our expectations. I did say that I expected participants to patriotically articulate and synthesize our people’s thoughts, views and recommendations for a stronger, more united, peaceful and politically stable Nigeria.”
In the light of the achievements of that conference, it does appear to be an attempt to revise history for Femi Adesina to say his boss inherited a very badly divided Nigeria from former President Jonathan, especially as General Buhari has refused to implement the resolutions of the conference. Something he would have done if unity was truly his goal.
The fact that Nigeria is now more divided, under Muhammadu Buhari than at any time in her history, stems from the words and actions of Buhari himself.
Fresh from winning the April 16, 2011, presidential election, former President Jonathan reassured those who did not vote for him by saying:
“I have no enemies to fight.” He repeated those exact words just before the 2015 election, on Thursday, January 8, 2015.
However, when placed in a similar situation, after emerging victorious in the 2015 election, General Buhari, at an event at the United States Institute for Peace, said on July 25, 2015, as follows:
“Constituents, for example, that gave me 97% cannot, in all honesty, be treated, on some issues, with constituencies that gave me 5%.”
Those words greatly set the tone for the divisions that have been the hallmark of the Buhari years. Under former President Jonathan, there was balance in the government. The Executive was headed by a Christian Southerner, while the Judiciary was headed by a Muslim Northerner, even as the Legislature was headed by a Christian Northerner. The armed forces were also headed by a Northern Muslim minister of defence, a Southern Christian Chief of Army Staff, a Northern Muslim National Security Adviser, as well as a Northern Muslim Chief of Air Staff and Inspector General of Police, with a Southern Muslim head of the Navy.
However, Under General Buhari, the heads of the Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, as well as the Ministry of Defence, Army, Airforce, Police, DMI, DSS, EFCC, NIA and 90% of the headship of Nigeria’s security agencies are all Northern Muslim Males.
Where is the balance?
During Jonathan’s tenure, there was never anything like quit notice given by one region, to members of another region. Yet, on June 6, 2017, egged on by General Buhari’s nepotism, Northern youths issued a quit notice to all people of Southeastern Igbo origin to leave the Northern regions.
Former President Jonathan, though from Southern Nigeria, built 165 almajiri schools and 9 out of 12 new universities in Northern Nigeria. He also constructed the single largest infrastructural project under Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, the Abuja-Kaduna railways. Dr Jonathan focused his developmental strides in Northern Nigeria.
However, what did General Buhari do when the table turned? When fate placed him in the same position, General Buhari told the President of the World Bank to focus exclusively on the North to the detriment of the South.
On October 13, 2017, the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, said: “You know, in my very first meeting with President Buhari he said specifically that he would like us to shift our focus to the northern region of Nigeria and we’ve done that. Now, it has been very difficult. The work there has been very difficult.”
So, flowing from the above facts, I would strongly urge Femi Adesina to have a rethink. It is quite possible that Nigeria is so divided under Buhari because people like Femi, in a bid to paint a rosy picture, fail to tell their boss the truth. This may be why the Middle Belt region recently broke away from the North politically and formed its own union. The truth is that Nigeria, as of Friday, May 29, 2015, was a very united nation, which was why no dog or baboon was soaked in blood after the 2015 election.
But, we have seen how elections have been held since then. There has been so much violence and bloodshed, to the extent that even the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Monday, September 14, 2020, took the unprecedented step of placing a visa ban on serving Nigerian officials.
Dear Femi, the facts speak for themselves. You do not have to speak for them.