The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has described as mischievous the statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, comparing President Muhammadu Buhari with the late nationalists, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe.
Adesina had in a post on his Facebook page said President Muhammadu Buhari was probably Nigeria’s most popular politician in generations.
Adesina said: “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, a magnetic pull that Muhammadu Buhari has around the country. Either in the north, and south people swarm around him as bees do to honey.”
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, who reacted to the presidential aide’s remark in a statement in Akure, said people were attracted to Buhari because of his current status as a Nigerian leader.
He said: “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, but it is also mischievous, to say the least.”