Presidency to Soyinka: ‘Buhari took over ‘terribly’ divided Nigeria’


….says ‘we respect the Nobel laureate but not obliged to take everything he says’

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari inherited a “terribly” divided Nigeria from his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, in 2015.

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Adesina, who spoke on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, argued that there was nothing special about the comments made by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; and former President Olusegun Obasanjo as Nigeria had always been divided.

He said in a country of 200 million people, it would be impossible for everyone to agree and see things from the same perspective, adding that not every criticism should be worried about.

Adesina 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.”

The presidential spokesman said although the government would continue to respect Soyinka as a Nobel Laureate, it was not obliged to accept everything he says.

He said Soyinka had been a government critic for decades and had even criticised Buhari when he was a military head of state in the 1980s.

Adesina said in 2015, Soyinka did not support Buhari but only tagged him as slightly better than Jonathan.

Concerning Buhari’s criticisms by Obasanjo, the president’s spokesman said it seemed the former President was still upset that Buhari won the election despite his opposition to his bid to run for a second term.

He said Obasanjo had been critical of every past government and so his recent statement would not bother the Presidency.

“There is no government he has not criticised. The only government he has not criticised is the Olusegun Obasanjo government. So, that kind of person has a right to air his opinion and you also have a right to take it or not to take it,” Adesina said.