The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has faulted the move by the federal government to conduct the 2023 national census at the tail end of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.The mainstream Yoruba group pointedly emphasised that the insistence of the government to conduct the exercise indicated insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians, particularly with the trauma caused by banditry and the pockets of violence recorded during the recent 2023 general elections.
Disclosing this in a communiqué after the end of its monthly regular meeting held at Isanya-Ogbo, Ogun State, the country home of the leader of the foremost Yoruba group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, the group stated that with the flop recorded during the general elections, the administration cannot be trusted with the headcount of all Nigerians.
The communiqué signed by Adebanjo and the group’s Secretary-General, Sola Ebiseni, stated that the exercise, to which over N100 million had been committed, should be halted, describing it as a wasteful adventure.
The group said: “Afenifere is particularly bemused that the government expects participation in the headcount by citizens still incensed and distraught by the trauma of violence and brigandage of the elections or by those in IDP camps within their country, in whose ancestral homes terrorists in occupation will now be counted as new indigenes.
“All factors considered, including its inability to supervise a transparent electoral process and a lesser headcount exercise, the integrity deficiency of this administration is abysmally compounded in conducting the census, where partisan disputes in Nigeria are often at the level of communities, states, and ethnic nationalities, having been politicised over time.
“Afenifere decries the most insensitive deployment of over 100 billion naira on this wasteful exercise as scandalous and an economic offense.
“Afenifere conclusively says there is no compelling reason why the census must be held by the expiring Buhari administration and calls for all steps and preparations in that regard to be stopped forthwith.”
Also, Afenifere considers the request of Buhari for pardon “by those he might have hurt along the line of his services to the country” as rather short in statesmanship, with the demand that such apologies be extended to all Nigerians.
According to the group, Nigerians have been traumatized, especially by the pervasive insecurity, and “marooned in an economic quagmire that, in the last 8 years, has rendered life most uninspiring, nasty, brutish, and short.”
“It is rather shameful and painful that the President would celebrate, as an achievement, the purported containment of insecurity in Abuja, where the sovereignty of the nation has been wantonly challenged by terrorists routinely routing the presidential convoy, correctional centers attacked and emptied, and some local governments in neighboring Niger State in effective occupation by Boko Haram.”
Afenifere further noted “the President’s lamentations of his serial loss of elections until God sent technology to my rescue through the introduction of the PVC,” stressing that “it is rather more lamentable that the manifest desires of Buhari to improve on the efficacy of the technological processes, inherited from Jonathan, by assenting the 2022 Electoral Act with the BVAS and IREV components, were thwarted by the INEC and security agencies under his watch.”
On the petitions as regards the presidential election, the group appealed to the judiciary to ensure that “all petitions in respect of the presidential election be timeously and justly resolved before the end of the tenure of the Buhari administration as the only way the confidence of Nigerians in its intervention may be earned.”
Afenifere further reiterated its position “that the emergence of a President of Southern and specifically South Eastern origin will guarantee equity, fairness, and peaceful corporate existence of the Nigerian federation, for which we continue to support the victory of Peter Obi of the Labour Party in the February 25th Presidential election and all his endeavors in its realization.”