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By Luminous Jannamike
Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Kukah, says Nigeria is gradually drifting towards total implosion, saying the country’s internal crisis has become a molotov cocktail that urgently needs to be stopped from setting the nation on fire.
Kukah, who said this in a recent interview with journalists, disclosed that he had never seen Nigerians so frustrated as in the last few years.
He noted that many of the challenges facing the country today were due to the failure of the political class to unite the country and tackle corruption sincerely.
The Bishop said, “Well, every Independence Day brings a sense of foreboding for Nigeria and Nigerians. You look everywhere for a sign of something to smile about, something to hope for, something to find encouraging, and something to cling to and you are looking for a needle in a haystack.
“The frustrations mounts, the criminal political and bureaucratic classes get more daring in their exploits, stealing the country blind and leaving an entire nation bleeding.
“We had a joke called fighting corruption and we even set up a Commission. But guess what, from its inception till date, not one of its Chairmen has finished his or her term. The last Acting-Chairman whom the Presidency has continued to build a moral world around is now facing massive corruption charges. A case of what happens when the hunter becomes the hunted.
“Yes, our anniversary is here, but Ali Baba and his 40 friends are still in charge. So, this is where we are. Nigerian conflict is a Molotov cocktail of anger, frustration, religious extremism, toxic politics, corruption and deep rut.”
Kukah blamed those saddled with managing the affairs of the nation for the current threats to Nigeria’s unity, stressing that the mounting agitation for Nigeria to break into several countries was an expression of the frustration of the youths.
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According to him, “Before Biafra, there were Odua’ Peoples’ Congress and the Niger Delta Militants, all before Boko Haram and the Islamists.
“So, Biafra is a consequence of the corruption of the Nigerian state. These youth groups are expressions of the frustrations that face their generation. They are not the problems and they are not the ones on the dock: The accused is the Nigerian state!”
On what needs to be done to fix the cracks, Kukah said: “I have no easy answers. Politicians were meant to build bridges, but they only build bridges to steal votes or the commonwealth.
“If the political elite are not prepared to do their job, they make it easy for violence to continue and the persistence of violence knocks on the door of those who control the stock exchange of violence-the military! And we do not need that because they have often been worse than the diseases they have come to cure.”
On Nigeria playing host to some of the world’s poorest people, the Bishop said: “What again should I say? You sow corruption, you reap poverty, no two ways about it. The day the political elite decide to play by the rules of politics and try to manage pluralism better, we will see its impact on poverty and safety in Nigeria. There is a correlation between economic conditions and people’s predisposition to violence.”
He, therefore, stated that if Nigeria must play a leading role in Africa moving forward, it must first address the problem of bad governance and corruption.
“I think the first role is to take itself (Nigeria) seriously, cure itself of the ineptitude and corruption that has reduced its prestige and capacity to assert itself.
“You cannot be a leader merely because of your population. Population helps, but if you are stealing from your people and making them poor, then you become a liability to everyone. When Nigeria is ready to lead, everyone will know,” Kukah said.
So, the Catholic Prelate of Sokoto reiterated the call for President Muhammadu Buhari to resign, if he cannot handle the crises rocking the on many fronts, especially insecurity.
“I think this government has honestly done its best. This is all it can do and this is the hand that fate has dealt us. If you challenge Mike Tyson and you are knocked out in the first few seconds, you may have done your best because that is all the strength you have. This is why we said if your best is not good enough, please step aside.
“However, the President himself has told the Service Chiefs that their best is not good enough but as you know, it has all become a joke. That is why, prayer is the best option we have because we are really and truly in a dangerous place,” he said.
Above all, Kukah stressed that Nigeria can find redemption and hope again through prayers. Against that backdrop, he praised the religious leaders who declared special prayers for the nation during the 60th Independence Anniversary celebration.
“The walls of Jericho fell not by gunfire but by prayer. The walls of Communism crumbled not by nuclear power but by, among other things, prayer.
“We in Nigeria are quite at home with what prayers can do and have done for us. For us as Christians, we have no standing army, but it is the most powerful weapon we have. So, it is a call to prayer and it will achieve what God plans for us,” the Bishop added.
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