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Afenifere, PANDEF tackle Buhari over independence day speech

By Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
02 October 2021   |   4:09 am
Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has criticised the 61st Independence Day speech by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it was totally indifferent to the mood of the country.

President Muhammadu<br />Buhari PHOTO: FACEBOOK/Femi Adesina

Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has criticised the 61st Independence Day speech by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it was totally indifferent to the mood of the country.

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, also stated that the President’s speech further showcases the dishonesty on the part of those governing the country and the disconnection between them and the people they govern.

National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, in a statement yesterday in Port Harcourt, described the speech as the worst Independence Day speech in Nigeria’s history. 

He said: “The speech was indifferent to the mood of the country; the growing disaffections, dissensions and disillusions, arising from the actions and inactions of the government. Rather, it’s full of hallucinations and wishful thinking, perhaps, based on what might be pleasing to the President, and not the citizens.

“There is something wrong with the president’s speechwriters and handlers. They offend citizens’ sensibilities in their ridiculous, tenuous justification of the colossal failure of the administration. They are either making excuses or playing the blame game; it’s always someone else’s fault.

“How can they say it is hoarding by “middlemen” that is responsible for the current food crisis in the country? Unsurprisingly, no mention was made of the killer herdsmen, bandits and insurgents who are destroying farms and hunting farmers away from their farmlands across the country. Of course, they are untouchables!”

The PANDEF spokesman added that the assertion that the government was taking the fight against insecurity to the enemy and winning was also odd. 
He explained: “A few days ago, gunmen, reportedly, again, invaded Sarkin Pawa, the headquarters of Munyan local government area of Niger State, killing no fewer than 30 people. Bandits also allegedly overran a joint military base in Sabon Birni local government area of Sokoto State, killing some security personnel last week. And last Sunday, suspected Boko Haram insurgents also reportedly attacked a community in Yobe State. The incident, which caused many of the villagers to flee, came a month after the terrorists launched a similar assault on the community. Reports of the horrendous activities of bandits, insurgents and herders are upsetting and terrifying.

“So what “fight against insecurity” is the government winning? Is it the fight against Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu?  That explains why they easily can declare to have identified sponsors of Igboho and Kanu but remain silent on sponsors of the insurgents, bandits and killer herders, who are the true enemies of the country. It’s a shame.”

Robbinson added that the Independence Day speech reverberates the bigotry and nepotism of the Buhari administration, saying, “that’s Nigeria’s greatest problem today.”

Afenifere, in a statement signed by signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, also insisted that the picture painted by President Buhari was at variance with what was on ground.

Ajayi said: “In the 16th paragraph of his 2020 independence anniversary speech, the president conceded that the country’s major institutions – and by implication, the services they were supposed to render to the nation – were on the decline. In his words, “institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline”. 
According to Ajayi, “there is no indication on ground that this assessment given last year by the president has changed for the better.”

He added: “The services being rendered to the people of Nigeria by these institutions continue to be on the decline in terms of value delivery. The reason being lack of requisite resources and motivation.”

He noted that it was unfair on the part of the president to accuse ‘critics’ of misdiagnosing “incremental progress as stagnation as he did in his 2021 independence anniversary speech.”

Afenifere further said that the president’s claim that a lot has been achieved in the last six years “in infrastructure, social care, governance, Nigeria’s image and influence in Africa and the international community” was against the reality on the ground.

“There has never been a time in the annals of modern Nigeria that the country’s infrastructure was this decadent, social care near-absent and the image of the country was so battered. Indeed, the difference between now and in the days of the late Sani Abacha was that the head of state then was wearing khaki while the present head of government wears civilian dress and there are democratic institutions like the legislature that were absent then. In terms of the country’s influence in Africa, how many countries in Africa now respect Nigeria going by the inhuman treatments Nigerians are subjected to in different parts of the world including Africa these days?

“On the economic front, Nigerians have never had to pay through their noses for services and commodities as they are now forced to do. As at the time President Buhari assumed office in 2015, a bag of rice was around N7,000 while a U.S. dollar exchanged for about N180 even in the black market. Today, a bag of rice is almost N30,000 while a dollar exchanges for nearly N600. The situation was so bad that Nigeria has been declared as the world capital of poverty. What is the justification therefore for the president’s claim that the lot of the poor in the country is better under his administration than it was under the previous administration,” he asked.