The presidency has been reacting to recent comments by Professor Wole Soyinka, suggesting that under the present government Nigeria has become more divided than ever before.
Mr. Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, says while the Nobel Laureate is respected and revered, not everything he utters should be taken absolutely.
“Professor Wole Soyinka is somebody we respect, you don’t have them too many in a country, even on a continent. Professor Soyinka is an icon, he is an avatar, we respect him, we listen to him but then we don’t take everything he says hook, line, and sinker,” the president’s special adviser said.
According to Adesina who on Wednesday was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, President Buhari inherited a “terribly” divided country, one which he has been trying to reunite since he came to power back in 2015.
The president’s media aide said, “Nigeria had always been divided. Always. Right from amalgamation in 1914, Nigeria has always been divided. Nigeria is an inconvenient amalgamation but we have worked at it and I tell you that there is no time in the history of this country that the country was not divided but then we had kept at it and we were trying to make it work.
“As of 2015, when President Buhari came, Nigeria was terribly, terribly divided; divided along religious lines, divided along ethnic lines; divided along language, divided hopelessly, terribly and that is the division that the President had been working at. But you see that a lot of people instead of letting harmony return to this country, thrive and luxuriate in widening the gulf. They play politics with everything.”
Similarly, Adesina said not every criticism against the Buhari-led administration should be taken seriously.
Addressing recent comments by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the media aide said all criticisms must be thoroughly looked at to ascertain what value they add to discussions around moving the nation forward.
Obasanjo while delivering a speech titled ‘Moving Nigeria Away from Tipping Over’ at a consultative dialogue attended by various socio-cultural groups, said Nigeria is falling apart under Buhari.
At the consultative dialogue attended by members of various groups, including Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, and Pan Niger Delta Forum, Obasanjo noted that the country is becoming the world capital of poverty.
He said, “I do appreciate that you all feel sad and embarrassed as most of us feel as Nigerians with the situation we find ourselves in,” Obasanjo said. “Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state; economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.
“And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country. Old fault lines that were disappearing have opened up in greater fissures and with drums of hatred, disintegration, and separation and accompanying choruses being heard loud and clear almost everywhere.”
In reaction to Obasanjo’s comments, Adesina argued that “not every criticism should give one sleepless night”.
According to Adesina, there is no government that Obasanjo has not criticized.
“Obasanjo has criticised every government since the Shehu Shagari government that succeeded him in 1979. The only government he has not criticised is the Olusegun Obasanjo government”.
The media aide added that Obasanjo has a right to air his opinions, he, however, stressed that it is in the Buhari government’s right to take the former president’s reproval or dismiss them as mere claims aimed to detract from a performing administration.