Pan-Yoruba sociocultural group Afenifere has faulted presidential aide Femi Adesina for comparing his boss Muhammadu Buhari to Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe.
National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, described the comparison as “mischievous and mistaken” in a statement he issued on Friday.
He said, “I am old enough to have seen our colourful and even swashbuckling politicians in action. I have seen the great Obafemi Awolowo. The charismatic Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik of Africa). Shehu Shagari. Aminu Kano. MKO Abiola. Bashir Tofa, and many others in action.
“But I have not seen anyone with the kind of attraction and magnetic pull that Muhammadu Buhari has. And that is round the country, north, and south. People swarm around him as bees do to honey,” Adesina had said.
Reacting, the Afenifere spokesperson said people are attracted to Buhari because he is the president.
Ajayi said, “For sure – and for various reasons – a person occupying a leadership position is always an attraction anywhere in the world.
“To use the instances cited by the spokesman to gauge the popularity of the President, we can say that those who met him at the airport on his arrival from a medical trip could be in three or more categories.
“Those who genuinely wished him well and were happy to see him back. Those who were there to be really sure that the rumour of his death they heard was not true. And those who always go to any place that people gather – especially when or where a leading figure is or will be present.
“To use the crowd that gathered where President Buhari is not only as a measure of his popularity is erroneous. Admittedly, crowd-pulling can be an indicator of popularity. But this is not likely now given the level of mistrust that people have in governments. The mistrust that governments created over the years through its various policies of alienation and disempowerment.
“From the foregoing, it can be stated without equivocation that the majority of the crowd the spokesman talked about would be those curious to see whether their presence and prayers could make Mr President to see that they are suffering and in need of benign policies from the government.
“Comparing President Buhari to Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe therefore is not only mistaken, it is mischievous, to say the least.”
Awolowo was a Nigerian nationalist, political leader, writer and a principal participant in the country’s struggle for independence. He is famed as the president who never ruled Nigeria.
Nnamdi Azikiwe, usually referred to as “Zik”, was a statesman and political leader who served as the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. Considered a driving force behind the nation’s independence, he came to be known as the “father of Nigerian nationalism”.