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Afenifere chides Osinbajo over remarks on Awolowo’s statement



The Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere has urged Acting President Osinbajo to be mindful of his utterances whenever he is criticising those calling for the restructuring of Nigeria.

The group also urged Osinbajo not to try in any way to denigrate or twist the meaning of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s statement that Nigeria is not a nation, but a mere geographical expression.

In a statement yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said it appears that Osinbajo is seeking some endorsement of would-be appointees by dumping Nigerian patriots, who have been in the agitation for the restructuring of the country, to please the owners of the current game.

The group added that the Acting President, in seeking to advance the position and interests of his current central-government power constituency, has in a recent public speech, dismissed the decades-old clamour for a restructuring of the Nigerian polity by some of Nigeria’s best and most-respected personalities.

According to Afenifere, “Osinbajo in that same speech has also, rather strangely, and in a way that dishonours the opinion and memory of Awolowo, gone ahead to disingenuously lend himself to the propagation of historical and intellectual sophistry, regarding the imposed unity of Nigeria. His demeaning and dismissive comments on Awolowo’s famous reference to Nigeria as not being a nation, but a mere geographical expression, the third time in three months, are strange, misguided and unfortunate on a number of fronts.”

While insisting that Awolowo was right then and still right today, Afenifere said, “If the Acting President is still in doubt, let him check why a super minister would disown him openly on the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu. He should look closely at the seat of another super Minister, which has been vacant at Federal Executive Council (FEC) since President Muhammadu Buhari left the country over 90 days ago.”

Afenifere further wondered why it took Osinbajo several weeks before he was allowed to sign the 2017 budget? “Should it have taken him over 70 days to be allowed to swear in ministers cleared on the eve of the President’s departure, if this were a nation already? Why has he been holding meetings to deal with the fallouts of Arewa youth’s threat to the Igbo leaving in the northern region to quit without the gut to arrest them, if he were not presiding over a ‘mere geographical expression?’

The group however said that it is waiting for the day Osinbajo would repudiate the statement credited to the first Prime Minister of the country, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in 1948 on Nigeria around the same time with Awolowo that: “Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any signs of willingness to unite … Nigerian unity is only a British invention.”

Afenifere further expressed disgust at Osinbajo’s claim that Nigerians who clamour for restructuring are those looking for appointments in the Buhari-Osinbajo Administration.

Meanwhile, one of the principal actors of the 1990 military coup, Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd), who was also a delegate to the 2014 National Conference, alleged that some southern political leaders in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are willing tools in the hands of their counterparts, mainly from the North West and North East to frustrate the agitation for restructuring.

In an interview with The Guardian, Nyiam said, “If the agitation for the restructuring of Nigeria must be won, we must be bold to name those southern politicians who were working in collaboration with some elements in the north to frustrate efforts to reform Nigeria.”

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