…Terrorism, banditry consuming Nigeria before Buhari’s watch — Kukah
…Says death of empathy from those in power, nation’s greatest tragedy
…Notes fight against corruption fundamentally flawed
…Nigeria in a state of emergency under Buhari — Bakare
…Says opponents of restructuring are enemies of Nigeria
By Dapo Akinrefon & Luminous Jannamike
Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, said yesterday that Nigeria was drifting irretrievably, lamenting that while the nation’s problems were growing by the day, the leadership was paying deaf ears to warnings of an impending disaster.
He said issues associated with insecurity, separatist agitation and poverty would have to be addressed in order to avert Nigeria’s date with destiny.
He spoke on a day another cleric and Serving Overseer of The Citadel Global Community Church, formerly LatterRain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, expressed worry over the challenges bedeviling the country, saying Nigeria was in a state of emergency.
Kukah, whose statement was contained in his Easter message, titled ‘’Nigeria: Before Our Glory Departs’’, noted that government resort to propaganda and half-truths when faced with legitimacy crises, stressing that without truth, the seat of power often becomes a cage and the occupant, a prisoner.
He said: “Nigeria must now ask itself: What is left of our glory? Where are the values that held us together? On our national Coat of Arms, we profess our motto to be: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. But let us ask ourselves: Is Nigeria united today? Do citizens still have faith in the country? Where are the signs of peace or progress?
“Day by day, Nigeria drifts irreversibly into a dark tunnel. Things are falling apart with unnerving rapidity because those who govern have only a pact to protect their interests. Politics is merely its conveyor belt of ambition. Nigeria has a date with destiny. If we do not turn around, The axe is already laid to the roots of the tree.
“With some chance, we might pull through this, but it is getting tougher each passing day. Does anyone remember where we started and how we got here? On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, at his swearing-in as President of Nigeria, said: Boko Haram is a typical case of small fires causing large fires.
“Now, before his watch, the fires are consuming the nation, and in many instances, they, indeed, start small. The rumblings over the wearing of a hijab in Kwara State suggest that we have not seen the end of individuals sacrificing national cohesion to feed their personal ambitions by starting small fires.
“Most politicians hardly think through the long-term effects of these pyrrhic victories of using religion. What started as a small fire with adoption of Sharia in Zamfara in 1999, spread across the northern states. Ordinary people broke into ecstatic joy. Today, what has become of the north? What are the lessons?
“In all, Nigeria’s troubles are growing by the day, but our hands must remain stretched out in supplication. As Christians, we do not trust in God because we cannot revenge. We do not revenge because we trust in God. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to still have hope and be cheerful.
“It may sound strange, but for us Christians, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ is the greatest assurance that all these will pass away. This is not a call for us to simply sit on our hands or believe we can pray our crises away. We must remain steadfast.
“No matter the provocation, we must arm ourselves with the weapons of truth, the Word, the Spirit, and love. At the heart of Christianity is the truth and love.
‘’Taunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation, there is the collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart!
“Retired military and intelligence officers lament over what has become of their glorious profession as they watch the humiliation of our military personnel. Traumatised citizens are tortured daily by bandits.
Massive killing field
“The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly. A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hangs in the hot air.
“We have no message and have no idea how long this will last. Our people seek solace and protection, but frustration and darkness threaten to drown them. Is their government on AWOL?
“Two weeks ago, I came across a video in which a very frustrated Muslim cleric, addressing a Muslim audience, lamented: ‘If you killed 200 chickens in the farm of any of the big farmers, you will be dealt with. But today, we are being killed. It is your fault.’
‘’On the day of elections, you say, it is Jihad! Christians will take over Nigeria! Ok, the Christians did not take Nigeria. It has been left in the hands of those who sit and see us being killed. If we are killed, the head says, God forbid!
‘’He was not elected to say God forbid. This imaginary jihad won the elections now where are the jihadists?’ The lesson here is that politicians will use religion to mobilise for elections, but they cannot use it to govern.
“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria weighed in with a strong statement on February 23, 2021, titled ‘We Must Pull Back from the Brink of Collapse’, sadly, all of the warnings are still falling on deaf ears.
“When governments face legitimacy crises, they fall back on serving the sour broth of propaganda, half-truths, and outright lies. They manufacture consent by creating imaginary enemies, setting citizens against one another by deploying religion, ethnicity, region, and other platforms while appealing to the base emotions of patriotism.
“We forget the reality that without truth, the throne of power often turns into a cage, and the occupant is turned into a prisoner. In reality, the truth needs neither a judge nor a witness. The truth is its own judge and witness. Without the truth, as the old song says, all else is sinking sand!
“According to the World Happiness Report, we are one of the unhappiest nations in the world. This is unacceptable but understandable. Our clay-footed fight against corruption has not moved the needle of transparency forward.
‘’Of course, being the poverty capital of the world comes with its rewards such as banditry, violence, death, sorrow, blood, poverty, misery, and tears. Our cup of sorrow is permanently full, hence the exponential rise in the frustration curve across the country.”
Kukah, who lamented that human life was hemorrhaging so badly in Nigeria, noting, however, that the greatest tragedy in the nation was the death of empathy from those in power.
“Mysteriously, the government is investing billions of naira in rehabilitating so-called Boko Haram repentant members and their other partners in crime in the belief that they want to turn a new leaf.
“These criminals have waged war against their country, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered entire families permanently displaced and dislocated. Why should rehabilitating the perpetrator be more important than bringing succour to the victims?
“When kidnapped or killed, victims and their families are left to their wits. They cry alone, bury their loved ones alone. And our government expects us to be patriotic? The victims of violence need empathy, which the dictionary defines as the ability to understand and share the feelings of the other.
“A critical deficit of empathy on the side of the government makes healing almost impossible for the victims. We have not heard anything about a rehabilitation programme for the thousands of schoolchildren who have been victims of abduction.
“We seem to assume that their return to their schools is sufficient. Left unaddressed, the traumatic effect of their horrors will haunt them for a long time.
“Tomorrow’s parents, military generals, top security men and women, governors, senators, and ministers will come from today’s pool of traumatised children. The security quandary is the greatest indictment of this government,’’ he said.
Nigeria in a state of emergency
Meanwhile, Serving Overseer of The Citadel Global Community Church, formerly LatterRain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has expressed worry over the challenges bedeviling the country, saying Nigeria is in a state of emergency.
While he declared that those opposing the restructuring of Nigeria were enemies of the country, Bakare urged President Muhammadu Buhari to take decisive steps in tackling insecurity, the dwindling economy and anti-corruption.
Besides, he warned that illegitimate regional actors plan to hijack governance and control the political economy of the regions.
He said this during a state of the nation broadcast, titled: ‘The conspicuous handwriting on the wall’, at his church auditorium in Lagos.
Bakare said: “I am compelled to speak out because this is not the Nigeria General Muhammadu Buhari and I had dreams to create when he invited me to be his running mate in 2011. I am compelled to speak out because the state of the nation does not represent the Buhari I knew when we took that solemn journey towards rebuilding Nigeria. I am compelled to speak out at this point because, given the state of the nation, the legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari is in grave danger of being confined to an unsavoury side of history. I am indeed compelled to speak out because Nigeria is in a state of emergency.
“For many years, Nigeria was in the intensive care unit of the universe. However, six years ago, against timely warnings not to overlook fundamental and underlying conditions as the country prepared for the 2015 elections, her caregivers certified her fit and discharged her. Those underlying conditions have resurfaced and our nation is now in a critical state. Her survival is hanging in the balance and she has been rushed to the emergency room.
”The diagnosis indicates that a surgical procedure is unavoidable; the longer it is postponed, the more she stands to lose and the longer it will take for her to recover.
“Fellow Nigerians, you may recall that as President Muhammadu Buhari took the oath of office during his first term in office, he summed up his election campaign promises in three pivotal agendas, namely: security, anti-corruption and economic diversification with a focus on job creation.
“The major limitation of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been the failure to appreciate the fact that the problems of Nigeria are more deeply rooted than these honest efforts can reach, and that what is required is a holistic and systematic approach to governance.
“Unfortunately, after winning re-election in 2019, rather than do a deep dive to address the fundamental causes of our national malady by dealing with the root causes of insecurity, corruption and joblessness, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari decided to treat more symptoms by broadening its agenda. The president’s Next Level Agenda widened the focus from a three-point to a nine-point agenda.
“The re-elected president overestimates his mandate. He ignores opposition and pursues goals that prove to be beyond reach.
Hear me clearly: I am not saying that the thematic areas of the government’s Next Level Agenda are not important.”
The cleric, however, warned Buhari to beware of the conspicuous handwriting on the wall, saying the state of the nation had spurred outcries from stakeholders across the country.
He said: “From one declaration to another, and from one resolution to another, the consensus amongst these stakeholders is that Nigeria is in a state of emergency. Consequently, if urgent, decisive action is not taken, insecurity may be the second-term curse of the current administration. This is the conspicuous handwriting on the wall.”
Pointing out the foundational gaps in the country, he said: “Nigeria has two fundamental problems: one at the level of nationhood, and the other at the level of statehood. The first fundamental problem of the Nigerian nation is the absence of such unifying leadership that can redeem Nigerians from our diverse ethnic and religious identities and integrate us into a common national identity. The second fundamental problem of the Nigerian state is our inability to manage a sustainable and balanced relationship between the centre and the federating units.
We have failed to realise that a strong Federal Government working with strong federating units can guarantee the security and prosperity of the Nigerian people. We have failed to appreciate the fact that coordinated governance by the different states in each of the geopolitical zones will enhance the security of Nigerians and bring our people out of poverty. This is the heart and soul of restructuring. Restructuring does not mean the dismemberment of the Nigerian state. It is not an attack on Nigerian unity. It does not mean disadvantaging any section of the country. It means empowering the North West, the North Central, the North East, the South West, the South-South and the South East so that every part of our country will be safe and prosperous.
“Show me one person who does not want this for our country, and I will show you an enemy of Nigeria.
Insecurity, instability raging across the nation
“Unfortunately, the insecurity and instability now raging across the nation are the results of our national failure to act on this truth over the years. Because we have failed to guarantee effective regional governance, a regional governance vacuum has been created.
The insecurity in our country is the attempt by regional non-state actors to fill that regional vacuum. Our nation is unstable across the geopolitical zones because, in the absence of legitimate regional governance structures, we are confronted with illegitimate regional actors seeking to hijack governance and control the political economy of the regions; from the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East, to the bandits in the North West, to the criminal herdsmen in the North Central, to regional militias in the South West, to the militants in the South-South, and to the secessionists in the South East.”
On what Buhari can do to leave a lasting legacy, Bakare said: “In the two years left of this administration, the president needs to make an executive decision to approach the restructuring question from a three-pronged perspective targeted at his administration’s three-point agenda, namely: Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption.”