By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
The Presidency has debunked allegation the administration of President Muhmmadu Buhari has divided Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had alleged Nigeria has never been as divided as it is under Buhari, an allegation backed by Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka.
But Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, denied this on ‘Politics Today’, a show on Channel Television on Wednesday.
According to Adesina, if some opinions concluded Nigeria is divided, then it is a phenomenon that had been well pronounced over the years, citing past comments of Obasanjo and Soyinka on this.
According to him: “So if they say Nigeria is divided today, it’s because Nigeria has always been divided and all efforts to unite Nigeria and Nigerians have not worked.
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“When Nigerians come to a decision point that we must live together, we can’t wish anybody away, we can’t wish any ethnicity away, we can’t wish any religion away, then we will work towards being a nation.
“Professor Soyinka delivered a lecture around 2010/2011, when he said Nigeria was not a nation, that at best Nigeria is a conglomeration of different ethnic nationalities, but in terms of the definition of a nation, he said Nigeria was not a nation.
“Now the question is was President Buhari in power then in 2010/2011 when he delivered that lecture and said Nigeria was not a nation?
“So Nigeria has always been divided, the onus is on us all to make our country work and those who continue to harp on division are part of the problem because the harmony that we should arrive at as a country will continue to elude us.”
Asked if the Presidency had been fair to former President Obasanjo by calling him ‘Divider-in-Chief’ for expressing his opinion, Adesina said Obasanjo had spoken in recent times like someone jealous of Buhari.
“Some time either late last year or early this year, I watched a programme attributed to the former President when he said that he had ruled Nigeria the longest; that he did three years of military rule, he did eight years as a civilian President, that nobody else can achieve that status and that reputation.
“I think it was beneath the former President to have said that because what do you have in this life that you haven’t been given?
“There’s nothing you have that you have not been given. All that we have is given us from above. If you rule the country for three years as military and eight years as civilian, it’s nothing to boast about.
“For the former President to have said nobody will attain that status of ruling this country for eleven years, I think it was beneath his status.
“So, the fact the President Buhari himself has done military, he ruled for 20 months, then he’s doing eight years, the former President may be feeling, probably he’s coming close to me.
“I think he didn’t need to say what he said in the first place but then, in the history of the country, President Obasanjo has his place. That is enough. He will continue to have our respect.
“Don’t forget, in 2018, when he wrote that letter and he said President Buhari, as a horse rider, must now dismount, the President particularly told me, he said ;Adesina don’t say a word, don’t respond to him’,” he said.
On suggestions Buhari might be losing his support base, he said: “that is not supported by statistics. If you look at the margin of victory in 2015 and compare it with the margin of victory in 2019, what you have said is not supported by statistics. The President had a wider margin in 2019. So that can only be conjectured, it is not supported by statistics”