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Prominent northern leader, Dr Junaid Mohammed, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Afenifere, National Chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose and some legal practitioners, in separate interviews with Saturday Tribune, on Friday, described the president as sectional for giving the directive to the World Bank.
Buhari’s directive to World Bank has proved him as an ethnic bigot —IYC
Factional national president of the Ijaw Youth Council (Worldwide), Comrade Eric Omare, said that the directive given to the World Bank to focus on developing the North has proved its long-time submission that President Buhari is an ethnic bigot.
Omare, speaking with Saturday Tribune on phone in Warri, Delta State, on Friday, described the directive as “unfortunate, unpresidential and unacceptable to the Niger Deltans and other parts of the country.”
He contended that there was nothing happening in the North that has not happened or not happening in the Niger Delta region, adding, “Buhari is only demonstrating what he has said before and what he stands for. It’s unfortunate and highly condemnable.
“There’s nothing that’s happening in the North East that’s not happening or has not happened in the Niger Delta. If we have IDPs in the North East, we also have IDPs in the Niger Delta and there hasn’t been given any presidential directive to address the devastation in the region.
“The directive to the World Bank only came because the president came from the North. He’s a sectional president. Buhari is an ethnic bigot and we highly condemn such directive to the World Bank in favour of the North and at the detriment of other parts of the country, especially the Niger Delta region.”
Northern govs speak, back president
However, chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, told newsmen, on Friday night in Maiduguri that he and five other governors were present when Buhari made the request in 2015.
“It was the World Bank that championed the RPBA (Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report) on the six states of the North East with the participation of the European Union and office of the Vice President. The World Bank became involved after President Buhari made a request for the Bank to support the rebuilding of the northeast.
“The meeting between President Buhari and the World Bank in Washington DC, which took place in July, 2015, few weeks after the President’s swearing-in, was attended by their Excellencies, then Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo (South South), Governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo from the South East, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo (South West), Tanko Al-Makura from the North Central, myself from the North East, the late Professor Adefuye and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo.
“The request was made by the president in the open and everyone thought it was the right thing. States in the North East, like Borno, have been working with the World Bank, putting all the collaborative machinery in place.
“We have been having series of follow ups and the media has been covering all the steps, including my visit to the World Bank in Abuja some months ago. The whole thing is in the open and we believe the objectives of the president will be actualised as we go forward,” Shettima said.
I’m shocked, but Buhari is prone to gaffes -Junaid Mohammed
Reacting to the statement credited to President Buhari that the World Bank should concentrate on the North East in its developmental plan, a prominent northern leader, Dr Junaid Mohammed, expressed shock and embarrassment, noting that the president is prone to gaffes.
He, however, said Nigerians must understand the timing and context of the statement, adding that the president has nothing significant to ensure the development of the North East.
“First and foremost, I must say I am a bit shocked and embarrassed by the statement credited to President Buhari. However, one must understand the timing and context.
“I understand that President Buhari had a meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about two years ago. I have not been told that the president had a meeting with the World Bank President.
“However, the president is prone to gaffes and the gaffes that have come out of his mouth are many. He was in Germany where he referred to the role of his wife as belonging to the other room. He has never come out to correct himself but has presented himself as a misogynist.
“His handlers and media men are also not loyal to him because some of them are [former Vice President] Atiku Abubakar’s boys who were smuggled into his cabinet,” he said.
Mohammed went further as he said the president was yet to do anything significant for the North East, devastated by the Boko Haram terrorists, adding that what he had done so far were some projects which were not domiciled in the region.
“Buhari has handled two budgets since he assumed office, but he has not done any project of any significance in the North East. We have to be careful; we must look at what the president says and compare it with what he does. The North East is one of the least developed regions in Nigeria,” he said.
Buhari’s directive unfortunate, discriminatory —Afenifere
Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, also condemned President Buhari on the request made to the World Bank to concentrate its development activities in the northern part of the country, describing such directive as most unfortunate and a clear sign of the discriminatory rule he had subjected the country to since he came to power.
Spokesman of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said this while speaking with Saturday Tribune on telephone, adding that the group was still prepared to give the president benefit of the doubt to tell the whole world what he actually told the World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, based on claims by the presidency that the president was yet to admit giving a such a directive.
Odumakin said Afenifere should not be expected to start rolling on the ground thanking the president for what he had done if it was true that he actually directed the World Bank to concentrate development in the North while neglecting the South.
Odumakin said the directive to the World Bank had confirmed to the Afenifere that “all these lopsided appointments and the rest that we have been talking about and the refusal to prosecute the rampaging Fulani herdsmen were not just an accident”, adding that the directive amounted to discriminatory type of government which is not good for the country.
Buhari has said worst things in the past —Okorie
National chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, in his own reaction, said the president has said worst things in the past, adding the statement credited to him on World bank’s support for the North was scandalous and unpresidential.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune in a telephone interview, Okorie said Nigerians should not be surprised by the World Bank president revelation, noting that the president made a similar remark during one of his visits to the United States.
“That revelation if it is true is an impeachable offence; it is atrocious and very, very unacceptable from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The World Bank President hasn’t said he was wrongly reported. A denial from Buhari isn’t sufficient. I expect the National Assembly to show sufficient interest. It is most un-presidential from a man who took oath of office to protect and govern the whole country with justice, without malice to any section.
“That allegation is very serious, but he has made worst comments in the past. When he went to the United States, he said he would only pay attention to the development of zones which voted for him massively in the 2015 elections. It simply portrayed what we know about him,” he said.
Buhari, a sectional leader-Fayose
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has said he was not surprised by the comment from the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, that President Buhari specifically directed that the financial institution should shift its focus to Northern Nigeria.
He said “the president has never hidden the fact that he is a sectional leader and, painfully, because of his nepotism, religious bigotry and favouritism, Nigeria is now more divided than ever before, with the unity of the country being threatened.
“The father-figure of this country is President Buhari and if his language does not represent unity, there will be agitations like we are witnessing now. I therefore restate my commitment to the call for full and total restructuring of Nigeria through dialogue and negotiation,” he said.
Buhari’s request, unfortunate- Ojo, former Oyo AG
In his own reaction, Adebayo Ojo, a former Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, said the statement ascribed to President Buhari by the World Bank president, if true, was unfortunate and least expected from the president.
He said for the president to have made such a recommendation to the World Bank that it should concentrate developmental effort on a particular section of the country, Buhari had portrayed himself as a sectional leader.
“However, he is the father of all parts of the country. For a president to be elected, he must have scored at least 25 per cent of the total votes, representing two-third of the entire states of the federation in order for him to have the required geographical spread.
“He should see himself as the father of the entire Nigerian nation because we all voted for him from all parts of the country. His interest should therefore cover all parts of the country as he was not voted for as a sectional president,” Ojo said.
Buhari’s directive circumstantial -Yomi Alliyu, SAN
Also reacting, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN), an Ibadan-based legal practitioner, said the president must have made such a recommendation, given the circumstances of the situation, adding however that other parts of the country, affected by the national socio-economic activities must also be looked into.
“It depends on the circumstance in which the president must have made such a recommendation. The North East, as we all know, has been ravished by the Boko Haram terrorism, leading to the breakdown of all infrastructures in the affected areas.
“It will not be out of place for a president, no matter where he comes from, to say the World Bank should concentrate its developmental efforts on such areas in order to ameliorate the living condition of the inhabitants.
“In Law, we have the principle of the Doctrine of Necessity which may necessitate President Buhari to call for the concentration of developmental efforts on a particular area.
“However, the question could also be asked, why is the same thing not extended to other places, especially the Niger Delta region where we have the degradation of the environment as a result of the exploitation of oil which the entire country relies on?,” he said.