Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina has knocked notions by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Professor Wole Soyinka among other critics that the nation was more divided than ever before under the present administration.Speaking on a Channels Television programme, on Wednesday evening, Adesina said Buhari met a terribly divided nation in 2015 and was progressively working at narrowing the gulf of disunity.He cautioned against comments in the realm of politicking, stressing that Nigerians should coalesce efforts at uniting and ensuring harmonious coexistence rather than promoting division.
Though he noted that Nigeria had dwelled with an inconvenient amalgamation dating back to 1914, he averred the desired unity of the nation will be achieved when all Nigerians decide to accommodate one another irrespective of ethnicity, religion.
“Nigeria had always been divided, right from amalgamation in 1914. Nigeria is an inconvenient amalgamation but we have worked at it and there is no time in the history of the country that the country was not divided. But then, we have kept at it and trying to make it work.
“In 2015, when President Buhari came, Nigeria was terribly divided; divided along ethnic lines, religious lines, language, political lines, divided hopelessly and that is the division that President Buhari has 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 within Nigeria. They play politics with everything. So, if they say Nigeria is divided today, it is because it had always been divided and all efforts to unite Nigeria and Nigerians are thwarted.
“When Nigerians come to a decision point that we must live together without wishing anyone, any ethnicity, religion away, then we will be working towards being a nation.
“Professor Wole Soyinka delivered a lecture in 2010 or 2011 when he said Nigeria was not a nation, and that Nigeria was at best a conglomeration of different ethnic nationalities. The question is, was President Buhari in power then? 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,” Adesina said.
Though he noted that the Buhari government was not averse to criticisms, he said the government was wary to discard those discovered to emanate from the realm of politics and preconceived notions.
He said government sifted criticisms from Obasanjo and Soyinka to discover those that are germane and well-founded and knows how to deal with those ones that come from predispositions as a permanent critic of the government.
“Woe betides a country that does not have critics. They could be doing everything wrong and there will be nobody to point out that they are going in the wrong direction. Critics have their uses, criticisms have their positive side but then, it is not every criticism that should give you sleepless nights. When such criticisms come, you need to look at it, isolate what you think is germane, actionable and what you think is in the realm of politics and in the realm of preconceived notions you have to discard. There are some criticisms that you find what you think you can adjust and you adjust.
“If you at the trajectory of President Olusegun Obasanjo, you will see that there is no government he hasn’t criticized. The only government he has not criticized is the Olusegun Obasanjo government. So, that kind of person has a right to air his opinion and you have a right to take it or not to take it. Obasanjo has criticized every government including the Shehu Shagari government that succeeded him in 1979.
“In 2018, he said the horse rider must now dismount from the horse alluding to that President Buhari should not run in 2019. But Buhari ran and won. Do you think that someone who was asked not to run and ran will be kindly disposed to? He would not. It is in that light that we must situate and see whatever former President Olusegun Obasanjo says.
“Before Soyinka agreed with Obasanjo, he first issued a disclaimer. That says a lot about the former President. Professor Soyinka is somebody we respect. You don’t have them too many in a country, even on the continent. Professor Soyinka is an icon; we respect him; we listen to him but we don’t take everything we say hook, line and sinker. There is nobody that says something and everything he says, you take hook, line and sinker. He is an individual; he can make mistakes. He may reason from preconceived notions. Professor Wole Soyinka has never been a pro-Buhari person, right from when Buhari was military head of state. I recall that before the 2015 elections when he softened a bit, he still came out to say that of the two main candidates, one was just slightly a shade better than the other. It was not as if he endorsed the President totally.
“Sometimes, he came visiting at the Villa and was still very frank with the President and President was very frank with him. He has always been like that and will always be like that.
We will take whatever he takes, we will look at it, the ones that need to be assimilated and ingested, it will be done and ones we see as typical Professor Wole Soyinka, a critic, who is always on the other side of government when he speaks, look at what he has said, assess it, the ones that you think are germane and well-founded, you take and the ones that come from his predispositions as a permanent critic of the government, you know what to do with it,” Adesina said.