Guardian, Nigeria: The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and founder of Kukah Centre, Rev. Father Mathew Kukah, yesterday reviewed the worsening state of governance in Nigeria and submitted that Nigerians ought to be grateful to the military for their increasing patience for democracy.
He noted that with the high level of frustrations experienced since the over 17 years of democracy in the country, three or four military coups could have been recorded if not for the high level of patience by the military.
Briefing journalists at the Kukah Centre in Abuja yesterday, the clergyman stated:
“Democracy requires lots and lots of patience and hardwork. And I think we are mightily grateful to ourselves as a people that despite the frustrations, despite the temptations, unlike before, we have witnessed 16 to 17 years of patience on the side of the military because if it were 20 to 30 years ago, we would have had at least three or four coups already.
“I think it is a measure of the faith of the military itself on the urgency of democratisation that has kept them in the barracks. But I think the politicians and the political class cannot take this patience for granted.”
Calling on the political leaders to be more sensitive to the plight of the people, Kukah noted: “What we have experienced in the last few years has made us a laughing stock of other nations. In fact, people cannot understand why with so much resources we still cannot feed ourselves and we cannot do the basic things.”
Kukah condemned the religious sentiment being introduced to cover up for mis-governance adding: “It is a tragedy of tremendous proportion.
“Adding a religious dimension to the issue by politicians is dubious and criminal. In fact, we do need people with the requisite tools to be in power irrespective of their religion or faith.”
Challenging Nigerians to be ready to interrogate all promises made by leaders, Kukah said that Nigerians shared in the blame for bad governance because they are not courageous enough to engage leaders on key issues.
“Those in power have been holding us hostages, so we need to wake up and take the necessary steps. Our people are too naive to have taken all promises serious.
“For example, we were told that corruption would be fought but we never asked questions on how.”
On the call for a new coalition, Kukah said, that democracy thrives through constant engagements adding that the solution to a bad marriage is not in new marriage.
According to him: “Nigerians have lost the sense of integrity and courage. We should take seriously the issue of courage in our convictions.”
He regretted that the issues that surrounded the last elections are still very much around adding, “we are far more divided now than we were before the 2015 elections.”
He urged government to be more tolerant of opposing views, stressing that it is sad that whoever expressed opposing views are being taken as enemies of government.
He announced that the centre had initiated a leadership forum to enlighten people about the virtues and sustenance of democracy.
According to him, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo Addo, would be in Nigerian later this month to deliver a lecture on the issue of sustenance of democracy in Africa.