The former Catholic archbishop of Lagos, His Eminence, Cardinal Anthony Okogie, has decried the current level of corruption under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, lamenting that Nigeria was now a sinking ship being navigated by pirates.
According to him, “Nigeria is a sinking ship being navigated by pirates. There is need to take urgent steps to rescue Nigeria from the hands of brigands. Not to do so would amount to flirting with violence. The current level of corruption is dangerous. The anger of the people may lead to a violent uprising whose consequences we cannot foresee. Let us step back from the road to bloodshed.”
Okogie, in a statement, titled: “Corruption and Nigeria’s Uncertain Future,” said at this point in time, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate between politics and criminality in Nigeria, as politics in Nigeria is divorced from morality.
“That is why we hear of huge sums of money getting into wrong hands. What we have is not politics of the common good but politics of selfish interests. And its agents in every government are going scotch free. The constitution we operate provides incentives for corruption, and where there is corruption there will be poverty and insecurity.
“Our constitution is just a formula for sharing Nigeria’s wealth placed in the hands of politicians. It provides for so many offices, so many parastatals and ministries, and the bureaucracy it creates is consuming Nigeria’s money. The size of government has depleted Nigeria’s wealth. Politics is the largest industry in Nigeria. It is no longer news that many people go into politics because of the opportunity to enrich themselves at the people’s expense,” he lamented.
According to him, democracy is being assaulted by Nigerian politicians, saying this could not continue without destroying Nigeria.
He said there was no wisdom in spending so much money on political office holders who were not acting in the interest of the people, stressing that “we ought to have utilized the wealth of Nigeria to develop the people. But we have witnessed successive regimes of politicians in military and civilian garbs who enrich themselves by impoverishing the people.
“The sad consequences confront us: no good roads, no good schools, no good hospitals, no good airports, no electricity, no security, no comfort. The average Nigerian has nothing to enjoy while members of the political oligarchy are living extravagantly. But for Covid-19, they would have been in Dubai. Fela Anikulapo Kuti once asked: ‘How country go dey make money when country people no dey see money?’ The question is yet to receive an answer.”
The cleric decried that the beautiful “country that God gave us is raped and robbed with impunity by those who should be working for the common good. The future of Nigeria is jeopardized in the present by politicians who show symptoms of kleptomania, an irresistible tendency to take what belong to all of us. Many of our leaders are getting away with daylight robbery and murder.
“We are deceived into believing that a war is being waged on corruption. But we witness a circus, a shameless show of brigandage in government, where we hear of billions of naira being spent on frivolous projects that are of no advantage to the Nigerian people. We have been told that looted money is being returned. Yet, government is borrowing. There is a big contradiction here. If looted money is being returned, why does Nigeria have to borrow so much?
“There is an urgent need to restructure government in Nigeria. Concrete steps will have to be taken. First, the constitution must change. The current constitution provides a recipe and a licence for theft in government, for poverty of the populace, and for insecurity in the land.”
Okogie added that as a matter of urgency, the size of government needed to be drastically reduced, saying that this is not a step to be taken tomorrow but a step to be taken today and that the current political arrangement legitimized by the current constitution provided for a big government, but that a big government is, by nature, corrupt and inefficient.
He proffered that the new constitution Nigeria urgently needed must introduce new term limits, saying that considering the acrimony and breach of peace that go with every re-election bid in Nigeria, its attendant temptation to use the people’s money as campaign funds, it would be advisable to limit the President and governors to one term in office.
“Each President and each governor should consider his single term in office to be a penalty kick. A player chosen to take a penalty kick has only one opportunity to put the ball in the net.
“Nigeria does not need a bicameral legislature of 109 senators and 375 members of the House of Representatives. She can do well with just one federal parliament. The current bicameral legislature is wasteful and should be abolished by the new constitution.
“The military origin of this constitution shows that it was conceived by people who thought Nigeria’s oil wealth would flow endlessly to the advantage of political officeholders. Now, we know better. The oil is not dry. But it is not being bought. This will have severe consequences on the standard of living of the Nigerian. Post-COVID-19 Nigeria cannot survive on a bicameral legislature.
2023: CAN Pushes For Christian President, Self-Defence
The Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) has said that the next President should be a Christian to ensure balance in leadership.
YOWICAN also said rotation of the office of the President will promote equity, unity and peace.
The youths further protested the activities of bandits and kidnappers, threatening to resort to self-defence if nothing is urgently done by the government.
They warned bandits and kidnappers to desist from perpetrating evil and put a stop to the ongoing kidnappings and killings.
The Christian association also pledged collaboration with Muslims and Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) towards peace building.
These were contained in a communiqué at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of YOWICAN and read by its National President, Belusochukwu Enwere.
Enwere said, “The next President should come 2023 should be a Christian because the present administration, the president is a Muslim and so the President should rotate amongst the Christians and Muslims so that there will be balance in the leadership of Nigeria.
“We have competent Christian leaders who can represent and manage the affairs of this country. We urge our leaders to fully participate in politics so that we can produce a good president for Nigeria.
“As such the emergence of a Christian and youthful President come 2023 will be a true expression of equity, fairness and justice for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“That YOWICAN shall continue to collaborate and work in concert with brothers from the Muslim faith to pursue the desired peace, unity and progress of the nation; and more particularly under the auspices of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC),” the group said.
“YOWICAN decries the increasing rate of insecurity in Nigeria, yet commends the efforts of government and security agencies in combating the nefarious activities of bandits, killer herdsmen, insurgents etc.
“YOWICAN in the performance of Christian tenets and faith believes strongly in peaceful coexistence, but this piety should not be construed as cowardice, therefore kidnappers, bandits, killer herdsmen, terrorists and unknown gun men should not push Christian youths to the extreme, such as to make them consider deploying self defence strategies as the last option,” Enwere said.
According to him, despite the efforts so far made in combating crime, YOWICAN observes the urgent need to curb the rising wave of attacks, killings, destruction of lives, properties, farmlands and livelihood of innocent citizens within the Northern states, and specifically within Christian communities in Southern Kaduna.
The CAN youths demanded the immediate release of all abductees and particularly the students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna State, who have been in captivity.
The NEC meeting held at the National Christian Centre on Saturday was attended by National Executive Members, Zonal Leaders, State Leaders (drawn from the 36 States of the Federation plus the FCT) and representatives from the Blocs/denominations under CAN.
Clamping Down On Agitators Can Fuel National Crisis -OPC
The Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) has advised the Federal Government against clamping down on agitators for self-determination, warning that such could lead to a national crisis.
OPC said this in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin, weeks after the raid on the residence of Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS), during which two persons were killed.
The statement also followed Igboho’s arrest in the Republic of Benin after he was declared wanted by the DSS.
In the statement, the group “flayed Federal Government’s approach in Igboho’s ordeals, maintaining that the use and application of force on self-determination agitators has only justified Federal Government’s lack of respect for human rights and intolerance to the views of others.”
The group described the “treatment meted out to Igboho in Nigeria and also in Cotonou as very unpleasant, insisting that Federal Government ought to know that the citizens have rights and that such rights must be protected under the law.”
Oguntimehin said, “Unfolding events have shown that there are lapses in the way the Federal Government handles cases of self-determination agitators like Sunday Igboho, and I will like to state it clearly that the Federal Government must desist from clamping down on self-determination agitators because such move can only fuel national crisis.”
The publicity secretary urged the Republic of Benin to be fair with Igboho as he revealed that the rights activist will be facing immigration-related offences in the country, adding that he can also seek asylum to ensure his safety.
He warned against having Igboho brought back to Nigeria the way the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, was brought back from Kenya.
He said, “The Federal Government has been silent on the extradition order because it might trigger more crisis. You cannot treat Igboho the Nnamdi Kanu way, it would not work, so I am appealing to the Federal Government to learn from history and ensure that the fundamental human rights of the citizens are protected in such a way that we can begin to appreciate the fact that we truly follow the tenets of democracy.”
The statement said Nigeria and the Republic of Benin have no extradition agreement, adding that Nigeria has not been able to come up with charges that could lead the court to order Igboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
Oguntimehin said, “What Federal Government came up with were mere allegations against Ighoho such as trafficking in arms and inciting violence that could result in the social disturbance without evidence and the Government of Benin Republic had considered all that to be untenable and insufficient to warrant extradition.
“The case has been adjourned till Monday, July 26 to allow the Federal Government bring up whatever evidence they may have, and Mr. lgboho has been taken back to the police custody.”
He pointed out that the rights activist had been peaceful with his agitation, as he urged traditional leaders not to ignore him at his trying time.
Nasarawa Monarchs Console Odili Over Brother’s Death
The Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers has commiserated with former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili over the death of his elder brother, Chief Fidelis Obi Odili.
The Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers and Emir of Lafia, Hon. Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad 1 (rtd), said monarchs and people of his state were saddened by the bereavement of the Odili family.
The Emir, who was accompanied by the Andoma of Domia, Alhaji Ahmaou Aliyu; and the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State, Engineer Emeka Woke, stated this during a condolence visit to Odili in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
He described Odili as a very generous, hospitable personality and one of the best leaders that Nigeria has produced.
To this end, he declared that whatever affects him (Odili), affects people all over the country.
“We have come here to commiserate with you, to pass our condolences to you on behalf of all of our people, the people of Nasarawa State and our respective kingdoms.
“As one of the elders of this nation, very respectful elder of this nation, anything that affects you, will touch us, will affect us. We ask you to take heart.”
He further added, “You’re one of the best we have in this country. You’re very generous, hospitable. Your Excellency, not because you’re here, this is a statement of fact. You’re one of the best that this country has produced.”
The Emir of Lafia, prayed God to grant the Odili’s family the fortitude to bear the loss of their beloved one.
He also urged God to continue to keep Odili in good health so that he’ll continue all the good works that he has been doing and will continue to do for the nation.
“On behalf of all the chiefs that are not here, we commiserate with you”, he said.
Responding, the former Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, said he felt honoured by the condolence visit and words of encouragement by the Emir of Lafia.
“I can’t find words appropriate to thank you for this consoling honour.”
Odili said he felt elated by the kind gesture of the Emir of Lafia.
According to him, the visit has further demonstrated the importance the Emir attaches to his relationship with the people of Rivers State.
“You’ve come with your colleague to pay this condolence visit, which was totally unplanned and unscheduled. But, like they say, people make out time for what they consider important.
“We feel honoured by your gesture, and so, we want to thank you and your colleague for this rare honour and for your kind words. Your friendship with our state goes back in history.
“Your new position in Nasarawa State has not altered it, rather it has strengthened it”, Odili added.
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