By Caleb Ayansina
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah, weekend, urged the Federal Government to be careful about the involvement of the military in the forthcoming general elections.
The cleric, who did not see anything wrong with the involvement of the military in election, however, warned the government against using it to intimidate the opposition or the electorate.
The January 29 judgement by Justice R.M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Sokoto and the February 16 decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, had outlawed the President’s unilateral deployment of members of the Armed Forces for election purposes.
Consequently, the All Progressive Congress (APC) wrote letter to the Presidency, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the National Security Adviser, Chief of the Defence Staff, Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of the Naval Staff, Chief of the Air Staff, the National Chairman of the APC and the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), urging them to obey the court order.
Kukah spoke while fielding questions from journalists at the Catholic Secretariat Forum, tagged: “Democracy In Nigeria, So Near So Far”, in Abuja.
His words: “About the deployment of the military, frankly, I am not competent to make this comment, but I think we also need to be very fair.
“I remember very well that the election in Edo State, even Adams Oshiomhole himself commended our soldiers. The election in Ekiti State, we are hearing different stories now, but I don’t think that my friend Kayode (Fayemi) and others carried placards against the presence of the military.
“The military, in my understanding, are not there to conduct the election; there will be their involvement at different levels. What is more important is that how do you ensure that the army does not become a platform for intimidation? It is like a knife, you can use it to peel your yam or kill.”
Speaking on the current political situation in the country, the bishop wondered what people saw in the APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, that they did not see in 2007 and 2011 that was giving some people sleepless night.
This and other situations unfolding in the country, he said, are signs that the country is gradually coming close to political maturity, asking, “Why are we nervous now?”
On the 2005 report released by the United States (US), Kukah urged people to desist from misleading Nigerians that the (US) had predicted that Nigeria was going to break up by 2015.
He said America released the report to intimate the leadership what might likely happen in the African continent, judging by what was going on in the continent at that period.
Kukah insisted that Nigeria would not “have been where we are now,” if the country’s leadership had lived up to their responsibility, by using the report to put the country in order.
The cleric maintained that the lack of preparation makes the country to move in a circle, adding that to build a democracy that will benefit all and sundry, people had to play their roles.