Femi Adesina, Media adviser to President Muhammadu Bahari has drawn the ire of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere after he compared his principal with the revered founding fathers of Nigeria.
Adesina had bragged that Buhari was more popular and loved than former Nigerian leaders, Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe in his weekly article, Adesina wrote;
He wrote “Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is an honest man. Whatever he tells you, please take it serious. You can even take it to the bank, as it’s a cheque that will never bounce.
“There may be a tendency to say; what else do you expect a number 2 man to say of his principal? He won’t excoriate or flagellate him in public, and because he may possibly need his support for the number one position at a time in the future, so he would say sugary things.
“For a typical politician, ambitious, cold, calculating, scheming, yes. But those of us who work with the duo know that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is not in that mould. He is honest, factual, totally dependent on God for whatever the future holds. Nothing is a matter of life and death, and so he could have chosen to keep quiet about the attributes of the President, so that he wouldn’t be misconstrued.
“When he said Buhari was possibly Nigeria’s most popular politician that we have had in generations, I believe it, not just by the hearing of the ear, but because my eyes have seen it.
“I am old enough to have seen our colorful and even swashbuckling politicians in action. I have seen the great Obafemi Awolowo. The charismatic Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik of Africa). Shehu Shagari. Amino Kano. M.K.O Abiola. Bashir Tofa, and many others in action. But I have not seen anyone with the kind of attraction, magnetic pull, that Muhammadu Buhari has. And that is round the country, north and south. People swarm round him as bees do to honey.
No Nigerian leader, dead or alive, can match Buhari’s public appeal’’
Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi, described the comparison as “mischievous and mistaken”. Ajayi wrote in part.
“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.”