Afenifere Faults Buhari over Sallah Message

Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to match his words with action  regarding  various indices of governance, particularly security.

 The group in a release signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said the information and assurance that emanated from the President’s message to Nigerians to mark this year’s Eid El Fitri celebration “fly against the reality on ground”.

The President in his message issued by the presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, to mark the end of this year’s Ramadan fast, had disclosed that the end to terrorism acts is very much in sight and that Nigerians have reasons to mark the Ramadan festival with hope as the “battle waged against terrorists who falsely masquerade under the name of Islam is approaching its conclusion”.

But Afenifere in the release, said:“Rather than looking at the immediate future with hope, Nigerians are living and moving around in fear and despondence because of the insecurity they face at home, at work and even more so when travelling on highways. How then can one be hopeful in that kind of situation?”

While agreeing with the President that the fight against terrorists in the country “has been long and hard”, he, however, stated that the government has not succeeded in convincing most Nigerians that the ‘final victory is within sight” as claimed by the President through his spokesman.

To the group, it is important to let the President know the reality on ground because the specters coming from Aso Rock often indicate a distance between those in government and the people they govern.

The group  predicated this on another speech made by the President, through his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, while opening the 4th Plenary Assembly of the Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa in Abuja, where he said the president admitted that West Africa, of which Nigeria is a part, is “passing through a season of considerable political, economic and social turmoil” without outlining what his own government is doing in concrete terms to put an end to the turmoil.

The group  maintained that reports had it that in the evening of the same Tuesday, terrorists under the flag of Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) attacked Kautukari, a community in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State, a state whose epithet is ‘Home of Peace’, stating that the insurgents reportedly invaded the community around 6pm shot sporadically, set houses ablaze and killed some people. 

Afenifere listed other specter of insecurity in the country to include the killing of two officers and 12 soldiers by over 400 insurgents who camped in a bush in Niger State, the killing on Monday of a policeman, two brothers and others by gunmen in Anambra State in addition to two soldiers (a Sergeant and a Lance Corporal) who were beheaded in the same South-east.

 The pan-Yoruba  body  stated that with all the foregoing prevalent in the land, “it is very strange indeed that Mr. President could inform Nigerians that the “final embers (of insecurity) are now fading”, noting that it does look like the false sense of assurance and false sense of security being painted by the government have emboldened bandits and terrorists but making it difficult for Nigerians to know how to deal with a situation that is terminating their lives on a daily basis.

Afenifere reminded President Buhari that the three major areas in which he raised the hopes of Nigerians when coming to power are security, fighting corruption and boosting the economy among others, saying

“unfortunately, the change we have seen in any of these areas are in the reverse. In reverse in the sense that insecurity is now at an unprecedented level, corruption is an all-time high while the economy is now so down that hardly are majority of Nigerians able to eat twice in 24 hours.”

The group  challenged the President to immediately allow states to establish their own police force, honour agreements his government has with various labour unions, drastically reduce the cost of governance and ensure that the cost of social services and essential commodities like petrol and electricity come down considerably.

“President Buhari can start in this respect by ordering his party officers to liberalize the prohibitive cost of participation in the electoral process going by the amount of money aspirants are forced to pay just to express interest in vying for certain political offices.

“Since it is the government of President Muhammadu Buhari that took us into this asphyxiating condition, history may still be kind on him if he can use the remaining time he has in office to reverse the ugly situation. The permanent way to achieve this is to institute Restructuring without any further ado,” it said.

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