By Stephen Ubanna
The hardship and insecurity pervading the country appear to have drawn out Matthew Kukah, the fiery Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, north west Nigeria and Archbishop John Onaiyekan, to speak out.
. Apearing on Channels Television on Friday, December 25, 2020, where he spoke on a nation in search of vindication, the Bishop Kukah who could not hide his feelings had said that’’ there are dangerous signs of the country drifting to a state of failure which may trigger violence’’.
An aggrieved Kukah had described Nigerians ’’like people travelling without map, without destination and with neither Captain nor Crew’’, noting that the citizens have nowhere to turn to’’. The no nonsense Catholic Bishop had accused President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General of nepotism , stating that’’ there could have been a military Coup if a non-northern Muslim was the President’’ of the Nigeria. He disclosed that the Katsina state born Nigerian President has succeeded in ‘’ institutionalizing northern hegemony in his government by reducing others in public life to second-class status’’.
Dissecting the Administration, he disclosed that he has ’’pursued his self- defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion and had deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who had voted him into power to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony’’. He opined that no non northern Muslim Nigerian Presiden,t dead or alive has done a fraction of what the retired army General has done over the last five years by his’’ nepotism and gotten away with it’’
. The Cleric fears that ‘’we are going to remain hogtied by these political Leaders who are’’ gradually becoming part of a larger plot to seal the fate of the country’’. He insists that the Buhari led All Progressive Congress, APC, government ‘’owes the nation an explanation as to where it is headed as the country’’ journey to darkness’’.
Cardinal John Onaiyekan, a Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja ,on his part is not happy that ‘’Nigerians are now living in fear’’ and wondered how the country found itself in this mess. Hear him: I cannot travel from Abuja to any part of the country, particular in the northern states, without my heart missing 10 beats. The Archbishop would want the security situation of the country to be what it used to be in the past where he could take his car and drive to Kabba, his home town in Kogi state, without fear of being hijacked on the way by bandits.
His worry is the lot of many other Nigerians who would have liked to put their car on the road while travelling from Lagos to Abuja or Abuja to Kaduna instead of taking Flights which could be very disappointing because of the local airlines not keeping to flight schedule due to one reason or the other. The Value News findings shows that the Passengers may be at the airport at the scheduled time for their Flight but the aircraft would not be on ground for hours, and there would be no explanation or apology from the airline operators.
The Cleric believes that those running the affairs of the country , both at the Federal, state and Local government levels may not have known what the citizens are going through on the road because ‘’they move about with security details’’. He noted that ‘’until Nigerians move about without police or military escorts, ‘’no one is safe’’. Recall that on September 1, 2020,, Aero Contractors, an indigenous airline, flying the local routes, started a new ,twice-daily shuttle service between Abuja and Kaduna, which is about 180Km by road.
Investigations by The Value News shows that Aero’s decision was prompted by the recognition that the Abuja-Kaduna highway is too dangerous to traverse by car. Captain Ado Sanusi, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had said that they launched the route in response to security fears and the overwhelming demand for the rail service between the two cities , which has also been attacked by Bandits, who sometimes appear as opportunists in small groups or part of organised Criminal gangs. It is instructive to note that the kidnappings, hijackings and Bandit attacks that plague the Abuja-Kaduna highway are emblematic of the high level of insecurity in every part of the country.
Some of the northern state governors were said to have tried to broker peace with the Bandit groups, including Aminu Masari, a former Speaker of House of Representaives and now governor of Katsina, home state of the Nigerian President through amnesty programmes and promises of development in exchange for peace.Suffice it to say that those efforts had failed as development takes time and more frustrating, the governors could not keep to all their promises, thus giving the Bandits room to operate in the region with reckless aabandom The recent abduction of 344 student of Government science school , Kankara, in the north western state speaks volume.
former President Olusegun Obasanjo, had said that Nigeria is becoming a’’failed and divided state under the Buhari led APC, government’’. In his emotional outburst he had blamed ‘’the current state of the country on’’ poor management of the country in diversity’’. This may have informed why he had scored the Buhari Administration zero in the area of the economy, stressing that the country ’’ is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world and socially firming up as an unwholesome and insecure’’.
More so, critics had argued that the Buhari Administration’s militarised approach , where the Force and the military are underfunded and under-equipped , lacks a commensurate development agenda to tackle the deficits in the nation education system, health sector and jobs creation that are driving some of the insecurity.
The Opposition People’s Democratic Party , PDP, which had vowed to rule the country for an uninterrupted 60 years but succeeded in ruling for only 16 years, before it was voted out in 2015, by the the then Opposition , APC, may be warming up to regain power in 2023 general elections, cashing on the hardship and insecurity in the country to do so.
The party , which pride itself as the largest in Africa, were said to have assured Nigerians that ‘’no matter how long the darkness, characterised by violence, oppression, economic repression, hunger, abuse of Human Rights, disregard to the need of the people by the Buhari Administration and widespread Corruption in the system, there is still hope in horizon and the Opposition PDP , offers such hope as exemplified in the birth of the savior.
Appealing to the current Nigerian Leaders both past and present ,’’ to have some introspections, show remorse and review their policies which had brought anguish to the people’ over the last five years, the party averred that ‘’it is the only that could bring about healing, stability, and prosperity in the country’’.
The Nigerian President may have known that there is great mistrust on his government over the double speak on the upsurge Banditry in north west, insurgency in the north east and kidnapping in different parts of the country, that he has enjoined Nigerians ‘’to appropriate the hope that comes with Christmas and reinvest trust in his Administration’s determination and unwavering Commitment to restore peace, security, and prosperity to the country’’.
He may have meant well when he said that despite the dwindling national revenue worsened by the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, that his Administration will do everything that is required to implement the 2021 Budget of Economic Recovery and Residence, promising that that the country would exit the recession at the shortest possible time.
But Nigerians may have accepted the promise with a pinch of salt because of similar promises in the past which never fulfilled as Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture , continues to double speak on government policies. It is not surprising why the Catholic Archbisop Oaiyekan had said , ‘’we will be happy to have a government that can be trusted’’, an indication that there is lack of trust in present Buhari’s Administration. He would want the Nigerian President and all those who are running the affairs of the country to go for an examination of conscience. He noted that as’’ they are consistently deceiving the people, ‘’it’s neither good for the government or the governed’’, insisting that’’ Nigerians are ready to listen to the truth’’ and no longer lies.