Foremost socio-political organisation in Yorubaland, Afenifere, has weighed in on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and his denial over comments he made about the agitators for restructuring Nigeria.
During a speech last week, Professor Osinbajo had dismissed those people in Nigeria calling for the restructuring of the country as political jobbers who are seeking for appointments. The statement had been widely condemned by political leaders, especially those from the southern part of the country.
In a statement, e-mailed to The Trent on Wednesday, August 9, 2017, Yinka Odumakin, the national publicity secretary of Afenifere said that though Osinbajo’s denial was “okay”, there is no denying that he made the statement credited to him.
Afenifere also used the occasion to condemn the Osinbajo for attempting to mislead Nigerians as to what transpired at the event and by so doing, casting respectable Yoruba leaders like “Chief Ayo Adebanjo as a rumour monger.”
“The attention of Afenifere has been drawn to the u-turn by the acting president on his categorization of those asking for the restructuring of Nigeria to end cries of marginalization in the country as appointment seekers,” Odumakin wrote.
“We ordinarily would have allowed him the right of every politician to cleverly take back words they don’t want to stick in the public but for the disingenuous attempt to cast a leading light of the group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo as a rumor monger.
“It is also confounding that the statement said no medium quoted him of using the derogatory remarks.
A statement from his office titled, “OSINBAJO DID NOT DESCRiBE THOSE ASKING FOR RESTRUCTURINg AS POLITICAL JOBBERS, expressed surprise “at the news quoting Chief Ayo Adebanjo as saying he described those agitating for restructuring as political jobbers.
“Far from Chief Adebanjo making up the statement, the Acting President while speaking at a security meeting in Abuja on August 2, 2017 described proponents of marginalization which is the greatest reality in our skewed federation as those seeking appointments.
“Acting President Yemi Osinbajo took a swipe at those complaining about the marginalisation of their ethnic groups, saying they were opportunists seeking political appointments.
“A report filed by Paul Obi in Thisday Newspaper of August 3,2017 with the headline, You Are Appointment Seekers, Osinbajo Tells Protesters of Marginalization, quoted the acting president as saying that most of the agitators were fighting for personal interest rather than the good of their ethnic groups.
“It is also not true that those who make marginalisation charges are altruistic. Often what they are saying is: I am marginalised, appoint me,” Osinbajo said.
“He spoke against the background of the prevailing groundswell of agitations for the restructuring of the country, which many people and groups claimed was caused by the marginalisation of their ethnic groups.”
Similar reports were in Vanguard of the same day and several credible online journals like Sahara Reporters, and The Cable among many others.
“Quoting directly from his speech, his exact words were:
“The fifth narrative which I want us to look at and which I also believe is false is that those who make discharges of marginalisation are altruistic. Those who say my ethnic group has been marginalised, my religious group has been marginalised, that they say so for altruistic reasons or altruistic purposes. I want to say that is not necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, most times when people say for instance that the Southwest has been marginalised, what they are saying is I have been marginalised, appoint me because I am from the Southwest. That is simply what it is.”
“It was on the basis of the quoted reports that a reporter asked Chief Adebanjo what was his reaction to the Acting President’s take on advocates of restructuring upon which he responded that while he would not want to appear as attacking the Acting President, he should be reminded that he was born into restructuring campaign as he and his father followed Awo as he led the battle for federalism in Nigeria out of his foresight that running Nigeria along unitary lines would be conducive of cries of marginalization.
“We must put it on record that Afenifere deals with issues no matter whose ox-is gored,it has enough to deal with and would not fabricate lies against any political personality .
“Though Prof Osinbajo did not dispute Afenifere charge that he has tried to diminish Awo on three different occasions in the last 3 months, we must point them out for the sake of those who are not aware:
“1 In his speech at the 50th anniversary of Biafra on May 24, 2017, Prof Osinbajo said:
“No country is perfect; around the world we have seen and continue to see expressions of intra-national discontent. Indeed, not many Nigerians seem to know that the oft-quoted line about Nigeria being a “mere geographical expression” originally applied to Italy. It was the German statesman Klemens von Metternich who dismissively summed up Italy as a mere geographical expression exactly a century before Nigeria came into being as a country”
“2 Speaking at the Command and Staff College in Jaji on June 22,2017 the Acting President said “Indeed not many Nigerians seem to know that the often quoted line about Nigeria being a “mere geographical expression” originally applied to Italy. It was the German statesman Klemens Von Metternich who dismissively summed up Italy as a mere geographical expression exactly a century before Nigeria came into being as a country. Churchill describing India said it was no more a nation than the equator, (which is just an imaginary geographical line.)”
“3 And speaking at the security summit in Abuja last week he said again :I want to look at what I describe as false narratives; the first false narrative is that we often say countries formed the way ours was formed are doomed to fail. In other words, countries formed without a deliberate agreement of people to come together are bound to fail. This is what some people have said, that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression and for that reason it is not likely to succeed as a united whole.
“But those who say so do not know that even the expression, mere geographical expression used in relation to a country was not first used in relation to Nigeria. As a matter of the fact, it was the German statesman Klemens von Metternich who used this same expression for Italy. He simply summed up Italy as a mere geographical expression exactly a century before Nigeria was born. Italy is still a mere geographical expression but still a nation.”
“Like we said earlier, a denial should put the issue at rest but we owe the truth the duty to set the records straight.”
National Publicity Secretary