As Nigerians join the rest of the world to celebrate Easter, it was a damning verdict given on the state of the nation yesterday by fiery clerics, Pastor Tunde Bakare, senior pastor of Citadel Global Community Church in Lagos and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, who again hit at the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government over the grave security situation in the country.
The clergyman said the state of the nation does not reflect the President Muhammadu Buhari whom he used to know. In his State of the Nation address to commemorate this year’s Easter celebrations, Bakare said he is forced to speak out owing to what he described as Buhari’s legacy being confined to the unsavoury side of history.
Bakare went both historical and futuristic to help his friend, Buhari retool and avoid what he referred to as the curse of second term. In his annual broadcast given on Easter Sunday, the cleric also disclosed that he had handed the president a blueprint for national reconciliation since the commencement of his first term in 2015 but the president has obviously not found a use for the said blueprint.
Alluding to the dangers of overconfidence, which political historians in America have come to dub the second-term curse that usually messes up re-elected presidents, Bakare noted that the insecurity in the land might bring the curse on the Buhari administration. Though racing against time, he believed the administration could still finish well and strong if it would harken to the restructuring cries.
In 2019, the clergyman said he would succeed President Buhari as Nigeria’s number 16 president, as recalled in his statement titled ‘The Conspicuous Handwriting on the Wall,’ how he was invited to partner with Buhari as his deputy in the presidential election of 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 over a series of security challenges ranging from terrorism to banditry, kidnapping to militancy, cultism to human trafficking among several others.
“The state of the nation has spurred outcries from stakeholders across the country. We have heard from the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Faruk Umar Faruk, who lamented that what Nigeria is experiencing now is worse than civil war. We have heard from the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, who declared that the North is, in his words, ‘the worst place to be in this country because bandits go around in villages, households, and markets with their AK-47 and nobody is challenging them.’ We have also heard from the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who, speaking on behalf of other Yoruba traditional rulers, cried out to the president over the state of insecurity in the South West.
“The lamentations of the royal fathers have been echoed by socio-cultural groups across the country, including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Arewa Consultative Forum, and Afenifere. The Northern Elders Forum has gone as far as calling for the resignation of the president. Even governors and lawmakers have joined the lamentations.
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.”
As a way out, Bakare called for the restructuring of the country, insisting that such a move should not be seen as a threat to the unity of the nation. “The consensus by major stakeholders in Nigeria is that the country is in a state of emergency. Nigeria has two fundamental problems: one is nationhood, while the other is statehood.
Restructuring is not an attack on the Nigerian state. Show me one person who does not want restructuring and I will show you the enemies of Nigeria. Restructuring does not mean the dismemberment of the Nigerian state.
“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. On Security: The president must intensify the clampdown on terrorism and banditry by expanding support to the armed forces in terms of technology, armoury, logistics, prompt action on military intelligence, as well as inspirational leadership to sustain the morale of the newly appointed service chiefs.
KUKAH, a vocal critic of the administration, while delivering his Easter message titled: ‘Nigeria: Before our glory departs,’ noted that Nigeria was drifting irreversibly into a dark tunnel by the day while things are falling apart with unnerving rapidity because those who govern have only a pact to protect their interests.
It would be recalled that in his Christmas message, which drew the ire of several groups of the president’s supporters, Kukah had said President Buhari is sacrificing the dreams of Nigerians on the altar of nepotism by allegedly pursuing the interests of his friends and family in northern Nigeria. “Nigeria is a rudderless country where the citizens travel in a boat devoid of captain or crew and without any maps and destination in sight,” he wrote in his Christmas message, titled, ‘A Nation in Search of Vindication.’
Yesterday’s homily was the latest in the censure of the current administration. According to him, Nigeria has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly.
The cleric noted that the country is being haunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation and there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart.
He said: “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. 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?”
Kukah stated that when government faces 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.
“It is sad that human life was hemorrhaging so badly in the country and the greatest tragedy is the death of empathy from those in power, which 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.”
The clergyman concluded that as Nigeria’s troubles are growing by the day, the citizens should intensify their prayers. “Our hands must remain stretched out in supplication.”
BUT the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has urged Nigerians to have great hope that things are going to get better for the country despite the ongoing challenges. He stated this yesterday during a brief chat with journalists after the Easter Sunday service at the Aso Villa Chapel.
“I just want to thank God for our nation, and pray that our nation will experience the grace and mercy of God in so many different ways that we are expecting His grace and mercy. All will be well in Jesus’ name,” the Vice President said.
He said, “God’s plan for humanity was that Christ will die and will resurrect. The resurrection is evidence of the fact that those who believe would be saved eternally and would live eternal joy and peace with the Almighty. And that promise is open to every single person.
Reacting, the president’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said:
“All citizens have their individual ideologies, even their own versions of truth. But if you profess to being a man of God, as Father Mathew Hassan Kukah does, ideology should not stand in the way of facts and fairness.
Father Kukah has said some things that are inexplicable in his Easter massage. But, in saying that the Boko Haram terrorism is worse than it was in 2015, he did not speak like a man of God. Kukah should go to Borno or Adamawa to ask the citizens there the difference between 2014 and 2021.
Furthermore, the Hijab issue in Kwara State on which he dwelt is a state matter which the courts of the land have adjudicated. They are matters that have appeared in several states as far back as the Obasanjo administration. In all of that, when and where did the name of President Buhari feature?” He concluded.