Nigeria is dying, Buhari has no plans for 2023 elections – Afenifere

Jesusegun Alagbe

Yoruba sociopolitical group Afenifere on Thursday said going by all indications, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has no plans to conduct the 2023 general elections.

Afenifere leader Pa Ayo Adebanjo said this at a press conference held at the Wheatbaker Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos – insisting only restructuring could save the country from its woes.

Adebanjo, 93, stated that Nigeria is burning and dying, going by the various indices like increased killings, banditry, terrorism, poverty, unemployment, among others.

Adebanjo said the Nigerian state that was negotiated before independence in 1960, “the one that was birthed and named on the 1st of October 1960, is long dead.”

To avert a looming catastrophe, the nonagenarian maintained it was time the country negotiated its corporate existence.

“The Buhari regime has no plans for any elections in 2023, and this statement is not a difficult proposition to establish, once the parties to the debate, are fully seized, of their faculties,” Adebanjo read from his speech titled, ‘Fixing Nigeria before the fall’.

He said, “In the 93 years of God’s special grace on my life, over 70 of which I have relentlessly spent in the struggle for a united, civilised, prosperous and federal Republic of Nigeria, I have waited for some time in the departure lounge of life, and I owe it to posterity to speak unalloyed truth to unconscionable powers, and to clarify the position of my people, the Yoruba of the Nigerian state, so that whenever I might be recalled home, it shall be said of me, that I not only did my bit, I indeed said my bit, and the position of the Yoruba people and Afenifere were clearly and succinctly enunciated.

“In spite of deepening disappointments, the Nigerian Press has stood as, perhaps, the last and only beacon of hope in that realisation. I have invited you here today, therefore, as partners in that shared vision so that, through you, President Muhammadu Buhari and other political actors, blinded by ambition, may see the need to fix Nigeria before the imminent eclipse of her horizon.

“Nigeria is dying.

“To be sure, the Nigerian state that was negotiated before independence in 1960, the one that was birthed and named on the 1st of October 1960, is long dead.

“It was mortally wounded in January 1966, and was then slaughtered in July of 1966. Its funereal obsequies were held between 1966-1970.

“The Frankenstein that was cobbled together in place of the dead nation that was agreed has survived this long on the back of repression, lies, illusions, and outright delusions. But Buhari has finally killed it by his endless arrogance, the manifest incompetence, and the vile ethnoreligious agenda, with which he is dangerously strangle the insufferable Frankenstein.

“The Nigeria that was agreed, is one that was deliberately federal in structure. The Nigeria that was agreed, was by design, based on a parliamentary system of governance.

“The Nigeria that was agreed was one that recognised the rights of the federating regions to nationhood within the ambit of the federation that was birthed.

Read also: Nigeria becoming a failed state –The Economist

“The Nigeria that was agreed was not a perfect place, but neither is anything constructed by men, and the proof of its imperfections are embedded in the tragedies of the civil war that buried it.

“I am constrained by the limitations of time to adumbrate, and I shall fast-forward to the emergence of [General Abubakar] Abdusalami and the transition to civilian rule in 1999.

“It was the position of Afenifere and NADECO [National Democratic Coalition] that there existed an urgent need to convene a sovereign national conference of the ethnic nationalities that have become known as Nigerians.

“Afenifere’s position has not evolved.

“We remain convinced that the need for a sovereign national conference is imperative.

“The basis of the Nigerian state must be clearly negotiated.”

Adebanjo said refusal by the Buhari government to restructure Nigeria was evident in the widespread insecurity across the country.

He noted that the northeast was already aflame before the coming of Buhari, “its peoples rendered as pawns in the power games of the northern elite, who allowed Boko haram to fester as the evil powers of the federal government was lost to them, and the insurgents were seen as ethnic champions.”

“ndeed, Buhari protested against the onslaught on Boko Haram, and for those who might have paid attention, [Sheikh Ahmad] Gumi’s interventions are merely aping what Buhari used to say, before he gained office in 2015.”

The Afenifere leader however said insecurity that used to be confined to the northeast had today become “a pan-Nigerian problem” – with Fulani militants killing the people of the south in an alleged attempt to take over their land.

“Our hospitality has been violently abused, our generosity of spirit, taken for granted, and the security of lives and properties wickedly undermined.

“Bands of Fulani terrorists are in our forests and farms. They rape, rob, kidnap, and terrorise the people.

“I have pondered Chief [Obafemi] Awolowo’s words in his 1981 public letter to Alhaji [Shehu] Shagari, and I have found a part to be metaphysically intriguing, even though it has only served to deepen my alarm, such that I believe that I owe it to posterity to place my fears on the record; ‘the ship of state is fast approaching a huge rock and, unless you, as the chief helmsman, quickly rise to the occasion and courageously steer the ship away from its present course, it shall hit the rock, and the inescapable consequence will be an unspeakable disaster such as is rare in the annals of man.'”

Adebanjo said “Buhari was to be that disastrous rock a few months after the warning.”

Calling the 1999 Constitution “fraudulent,” the Afenifere leader said it was built on several lies, “and the preservation of these lies, are predicated on several more lies. Buhari, is unilaterally imposing another lie, on top of the original lies, and these lies, are what have assured the death of Nigeria.”

‘Dissenting voices not terrorists’

Adebanjo said he pondered why President Buhari has refused to tag bandits terrorising Nigeria terrorists but designated opposition voices and agitators as terrorists – as is the case with Yoruba Nation agitator Mr Sunday Adeyemo (popularly called Sunday Igboho) and leader of the detained Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.

“We are not anarchists or secessionists, we are democrats,” Adebanjo said.

“We recognise that there is a democratically-elected president in Aso Rock.

“We are not asking for Buhari’s resignation, and since the National Assembly has not seen fit to impeach him, he remains the president of Nigeria until the 27th of May, 2023.

“But it is the considered position of Afenifere that he urgently constitutes a Government of National Unity, charged with the sole task of seeing to the restructuring of Nigeria, in consultation with the Nigerian peoples.

“The Buhari regime has no plans for any elections in 2023, and this statement is not a difficult proposition to establish, once the parties to the debate, are fully seized, of their faculties,” Adebanjo said.

He cited the 6 November Anambra governorship election as evidence.

He said, “As bad as the security situation in Anambra might be, it is nowhere near as bad as the situation in the northwest, northeast, or the Middle Belt…

“By official accounts, outside of the ones that might be deployed to carry their ogas’ briefcases or to hold umbrellas, the Nigeria Police deployed 34K officers to Anambra for the November 6 election.”

“Let it be heard loud and clear; Afenifere shall be leading the Yoruba nation to demand substantial restructuring, before any fraudulent elections might be held in 2023, and the response of the Buhari regime to these equitable demands for restructuring the country along federalist lines, in order to restore it to its roots and original agreements, shall go a long way in shaping the position of the Yoruba people in the future, but let it be heard loud and clear,” Adebanjo said.

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