President Muhammadu Buhari’s two-day official visit to Lagos State which was rounded off yesterday has drawn mixed reactions from South-West leaders. While some Yoruba leaders who spoke with the SATURDAY SUN saw the visit as a good omen, and a welcome development, others described the visit as not only ill-timed but also a needless one.
Prominent Yoruba leaders that spoke include leading Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, founder, Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Dr Fredrick Fasehun, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Chairman, Conference of APC States Chairmen, and Lagos State APC Chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale, and Pioneer President, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Alhaji Hassan Summonu.
In his own view, Chief Ayo Adebanjo carpeted President Buhari over the visit.
According to him, ’’Although I have nothing personal against Buhari’s visit to Lagos, my question is this: why should Buhari be coming to Lagos at a critical time he has a lot on his hands, when killings are still taking place all over the place?
Killings by Fulani herdsmen are still going on in Benue, Taraba and other places all over the country. What should concern Buhari is how to stop these killings, restore normalcy and get the herdsmen arrested and prosecuted.”
While saying that President Buhari should remember that the buck stops at his table, Adebanjo lamented that the President has not been doing enough to restore sanity in the affected places.
‘’The President’s body language doesn’t show he wants to take the bull by the horn. It is unfortunate that these herdsmen are still carrying AK 47 guns all over the place killing innocent Nigerians. Like Danjuma has been blaming the Army for colluding with the killers, I disagree with that. It is Buhari that should be held responsible. Is Buhari not the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces?
He is the one that should be blamed. Buhari’s body language should show that he has the will to resolve this problem. I don’t think the Army can do anything without the knowledge of the Commander-in-Chief. We should call a spade a spade, the buck stops at Buhari’s desk, there should be no excuses’’, the elder statesman declared.
For Fasehun, Buhari’s visit to Lagos State is not only belated but also suspicious.
According to him, “I don’t know why Buhari is coming to Lagos now, almost three years after he was elected. His coming now to me is suspicious. It is suspicious because the visit is likely to be a political one aimed at testing the South-West political waters ahead of 2019 general elections. But what he should realise is that this visit is not a guarantee that he will get the votes of the people of South-West in 2019’’.
While imploring President Buhari to address the issue of marginalization of the people of the South-West geo-political zone by his administration, Fasehun further called on the President and other APC leaders to treat the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu with more respect.
‘’I hope the visit is not aimed at appeasing Tinubu as some have been speculating. It is a common knowledge that Tinubu is not being treated with the respect he deserves within APC, and this might be one of the reasons for the visit, but whichever way, the President should not allow himself to be led into believing that 2019 will be a bed of roses for him in the South-West.
He must work hard, and also carry out restructuring of the country if he hopes to win the people’s hearts”, Fasehun declared.
However on his part, Ajomale described Buhari’s visit as a golden one meant to honour a golden citizen of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and Lagos State. “President Buhari’s visit is in order. The visit is a mark of respect for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
It is an acknowledgement of Tinubu’s dynamic leadership qualities, and it is also a recognition of landmark transformations taking place in Lagos State under Governor Akinwumi Ambode. Buhari’s visit is a celebration of excellence in Lagos state’’, Ajomale declared.
On his part, Senator Okurounmu described the visit as a needless one which not only disrupted Easter celebrations for Christians but also led to the lockdown of Lagos.
He said: “The timing of Buhari’s visit is questionable. Why coming during Easter festivities? Then why the lockdown of Lagos which badly affected Easter celebrations, and movement of Lagosians?
I believe Buhari should have been more bothered about how to stop the endless killings by Fulani herdsmen, and also how to carry out restructuring which his party APC has now promised Nigerians.
Then the President should feel ashamed that he was coming to Lagos to commission a BRT bus terminal when he was the one who cancelled the Lagos State metroline project when he was military Head of state in 1984. Buhari’s action then caused serious economic setback for Lagos State’’.
However in his own view, Summonu declared that President Buhari’s visit to Lagos state was in order . According to the former NLC , Buhari as the nation’s President has a right to visit any part of the country any time he wishes.
“As the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, the entire country is Buhari’s constituency, and he has the right to visit anywhere. Although, politicians will read meaning into anything, but for me, I don’t see anything unusual about Buhari’s visit to Lagos State. Buhari’s visit to Lagos State is a welcome development’’, Sunmonnu declared.