Yoruba elders yesterday rose from a meeting in Ibadan, Oyo State capital accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of favouring the northern part of the country above others.
The elders under the aegis of the Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) at a press conference in Ibadan addressed by Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi assessed the administration of Buhari and concluded that he has not been fair to the south.
The cleric, at the well-attended conference which had in attendance his deputy, Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, his vice chairman who also doubles as the Yoruba think tank Chairman, Senator Femi Okurounmu, a former minister, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Kofoworola Bucknor Akerele , Bisi Sangodoyin, Mrs. Bolajoko Doherty and Chief Emmanuel Adelana among others accused Buhari of executing policies “clearly designed to favour a particular ethnic group which also happens to be his ethnic group.
“A glance at the table showing key appointments made so far underscores the extent of the marginalisation of the south. The summary of appointment shows that the North West which is the president’s zone has 26 positions or 44 percent of all appointments he made so far, North East has nine positions or 15 percent, North Central has six positions or 10 percent, South West has seven positions or 11. 8 percent, South South has eight positions or 13.56 percent and the South East three positions or five percent.
“This brings the total for the North to 41 positions or 69.5 percent while the South is left with 18 positions or 30.5 percent.’’
Gbonigi continued: “The last 365 days have indeed been momentous for Nigeria. While the president has made significant progress towards routing out the Boko Haram insurgents and restoring peace in the North East, centres of various other insurgencies have sprouted in other parts of the country, like the South South and the South East, not to mention the new terror posed by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
These sectional insurgencies are bound to continue to arise from time to time with our present over- centralised, quasi-unitary structure of governance.
“This is why well-meaning, respectable Nigerians have agitated for decades and continue to agitate for a restructuring of the country to achieve true fiscal and political federalism and to enable each section to mobilise and develop its own resources.
“The president’s recent remarks therefore that he will consign the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference to the archives, and the present posture of his party against restructuring show that they are out of step with progressive thinking in the country.”
Questioning the rationale behind the frequency of President Buhari’s foreign trips in the last 12 months to almost 30 countries, the forum asked him to stay more at home to attend to pressing domestic problems and stop making important policy pronouncements concerning the nation while engaged with foreign audiences.
On the recent increase in pump price of petrol, the group said while it recognised the need for a partial deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, “There should have been prior consultations with all stakeholders and the various palliative measures which the government intends to adopt to cushion the harsh effects of the sudden price increase should have been made known to the public.”
Gbonigi also condemned activities of armed Fulani herdsmen across the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria which now constitute a most potent threat to national security.
He said : “These armed Fulani herdsmen abuse the hospitality of their host communities by attacking and killing innocent people, raping girls and women, burning houses, and destroying crops and farmlands.
When the president eventually thought it fit to comment, his remarks were without conviction. This silence has been interpreted to mean that these armed Fulani herdsmen may be receiving sympathy from the highest official quarters.
’Furthermore, we call on all governors of the South West states to send bills to their various Houses of Assembly to pass legislations banning nomadic grazing in their various states. Those engaged in cattle breeding should establish ranches.
“Another act of provocation embarked upon by the Federal Government is the proposal to establish grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen.
Nigerians are shocked that a president who prided himself as belonging to no one and belonging to everyone will conceive a policy clearly designed to favour a particular ethnic group which also happens to be his ethnic group.”