Former President- General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, said Gen. Buhari was being unnecessarily vilified, noting that worse statements had been uttered by other people. This, he said, includes the “do or die” declaration by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Ikedife said: “It is necessary that we speak the truth and face the fact. Buhari should be praised for having the courage to say it the way he saw it and to sound a note of caution. And I want us to take that note of caution seriously.
“It is important that we evaluate the message rather than kill the messenger. His words are not worse than the man who declared that ‘this election is do or die’. I think what Buhari is saying is ‘don’t win by hook or crook and that they should allow the opinion of Nigerians to prevail.
“Any person who faults that should tell us what he wants Nigeria to look like. It is absolutely necessary. If we want to entrench true and proper democracy, it should be one man, one vote. Every vote should count and be accounted for.”
Ikedife does not see Buhari as desperate for anything other than his yearning “for a peaceful Nigeria where true democracy thrives. And he should not be vilified.”
In the same vein, Second Republic governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa described the controversy generated by Buhari’s statement as totally unnecessary, arguing that even President Jonathan had, in the past, made statements that have greater security implication for the country than Buhari’s.
He said the case of Buhari has attracted more attention only because he is a former head of state. Otherwise, he was merely saying what every other Nigerian has been saying in respect of rigging elections.
He said: “The controversy is unnecessary for two reasons. First, what Buhari said is what every other Nigerian has been saying about the need for free and fair elections. But because Buhari is a former head of State, more people react to whatever he says.
“Secondly, even President Jonathan had, in the past, made statements with far greater security implication than what we just heard. If a president said all public institutions have collapsed, isn’t that a serious statement with greater security implication?
“With regards to Boko Haram, if the President said Boko Haram has infiltrated all government agencies including the Presidency, is that not of greater security risk?
“Buhari wanted us to be mindful of the implications of rigged elections. If people have forgotten, it was what led to the unrest in the South West and eventually, the coup of the First Republic in 1966. It was also what led to the coup of the Second Republic. So what is wrong in any Nigerian warning against the dangers of rigged elections?
“All I can say is that there is a sinister motive behind the interpretation given to Buhari’s warning by the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Finally, if people like Buhari and the media, who know more than we know; should keep quiet, what will happen to Nigeria? Won’t the situation get worse?”
But the founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr Fredrick Fasehun, as he said Buhari’s statement cannot be justified by any parameter.
He accused the former military ruler of trying to cause the disintegration of Nigeria by carrying himself as if he were above the laws of the land.
He cautioned him not to teach Nigerians how to disintegrate.
“I personally believe that Buhari can’t be adjudged right by any parameter of reasoning. The statement is highly inflammatory and inciting,” he said.
“Buhari has continually carried himself as if he is above the laws of the land. That is why he says anything that comes to his mind without caring for the legal implication of such statements. In fact, I have been waiting for the security agencies to invite him and query him for such utterances that tend to teach Nigerians how to disintegrate.
“The other day he was invited to the Oputa Panel, but he refused to show up and nothing was done to him. Obasanjo, as the president of the country then, was there at the Oputa Panel. Nigeria is greater than him. He should not teach us how to disintegrate. This country will be handed over to the person who will hold it together in unity and peace. Winning elections cannot be by force of violence. He must know that.”
Former President General of Ijaw National Congress (INC) Prof. Kimse Okoko, described Buhari’s utterances as unstatesmanly. He wondered how a man of Gen Buhari’s standing could allow his emotion to becloud his sense of judgment, saying Nigeria has witnessed too much bloodshed.
“It is rather unfortunate on the part of General Buhari that he could allow his emotion to becloud his sense of judgment. He has not behaved as a statesman, a former Head of State and a presidential candidate of a leading party in this country before.
“Already, there is too much bloodshed in the land.Of what need is his calling for more bloodshed. That statement is unstatesmanly. The truth of the matter is that Nigeria will not be ruled by anybody who is calling for bloodshed. He should be invited to explain whatever he meant. I don’t want to believe that he is already training an army somewhere that he would unleash on the country in 2015. It is a very unsavoury statement.”