Political strategist and former political adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Akin Osuntokun, has faulted the President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of governance, stating that he has broken all the records in Nigeria in a negative way since he assumed office in 2015.
According to him, no political leader in Nigeria’s history has divided Nigeria along ethnic lines as much as Buhari has done in the last six years, claiming that he is not a good example of who a Nigerian should be.
Osuntokun stated this during an interview with Arise Tv on Saturday monitored by our correspondent.
He faulted Buhari’s appointment style as being lopsided, saying under no other President had the heads of the three arms of government come from the same political constituency.
“That is a bad example. He is not my own good example. He has done more than any other political leader in Nigeria to the course of division. Divisiveness! Look at his appointments. Look at what he does to the country. I am sure you have heard that Nigeria is even more divided (now) than during the civil war. It stems directly from the style of his leadership.
“I was telling some people a few days ago that he (Buhari) has even appropriated the chairman of APC to the North-East (Yobe). This is the first time in Nigeria where you are going to have the heads of the three organs of government coming from the same political constituency. The President, who is the head of the country; Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, who is the Chairman of the National Assembly; and, the head of judiciary, Justice Mohammed Tanko, who is the Chief Justice. It has never happened like that in the history of this country.
“Buhari has broken all the records in Nigeria in a negative way. Even the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission’s) Chairman, for instance, he (Buhari) is the first person to appoint the chairman of INEC from his constituency. It has never happened. Go back to 1960. Those appointed into the position of INEC chairman have never come from the party of the president, and that is how it should be. We are talking about the letter and spirits of the law and Federal Character; take a look at what he has done. I am even surprised you are asking me that. It is not just about the person and personality of the President; it is also about his policies, styles, what he says, everything about him. Anything about Buhari gets me worked up.”
Speaking further, Osuntokun said the way the Buhari-led regime had governed the country since 2015 was directly responsible for the secession agitations being witnessed by the country.
He said, “There is always this idea of blaming the victims. People are talking about separatists and blaming Igboho (Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo). There is a cost and effect logic to what has happened. The way President Buhari has governed this country since 2015 is directly responsible for the demands of separatists. He has been the one who has shown the initiative and set the agenda for that by the way he governs.
“One of their chronic moments was that some months ago, when they were to sign for a loan for the rehabilitation of the moribund Port Harcourt Refinery, the two signatories to the agreement were the Group Managing Director of the NNPC and the Managing Director of the PH refinery, both from the North – one is from Borno, the other is from Katsina. They will say they were representing Nigeria. You can replicate that in almost every organization.”
When asked about what to make out of the calls for southern presidency, Osuntokun said he ‘has no candidate outside of the South-East.’
According to him, an Igbo President is imperative in keeping Nigeria together and strengthening democracy.
He identified a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Kingsley Moghalu; a former Education Minister, Dr Oby Ezekwesili; a former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, amongst others, as possible candidates.
He said, “I have a personal position on it (2023) and I have been passionate about it. We ought to have a nation first before we have bureaucracy or any internal system. If you are coming from the premise of nation building, which is fundamental, all logic dictates that whoever is going to be the President of Nigeria should not only be restricted to the South; I personally believe that it should go to the South-East.
“Now, I have heard the argument about IPOB and them wanting to secede, which is the more reason why you should do that. You put them… It is like the story of the prodigal son. The father didn’t chase him away; he pulled him back. How is that consistent with the idea of building a nation? They want to get any loophole, vulnerability or anything that challenges your objective of nation building, which is clear in the case with the South-East, that is what you should do. Not everybody is IPOB in the South-East. You are going to find there people who are more Nigerian than Buhari himself. Buhari is not Nigerian. If you don’t want them in Nigeria, then let them go, because the message that is communicated in Nigeria.”
Efforts to get the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, to react to claim by Osuntokun were unsuccessful, as calls to his mobile phone by our correspondent on Saturday rang out and a text message sent to him had not been replied as of press time.
Similarly, the Chairman, Buhari Media Organisation, Niyi Akinsuyi, could also not be reached as his phone line was switched off and a text message sent to him was not replied as of press time.