THE Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, on Tuesday, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to write the perceived wrongs of past administrations in the country and face the challenges of governance in order to reduce the hardship in the land.
Bishop Kukah, who stated this during a dinner organised by the Ondo State government, after the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigerian (CBCN) 2016 held in Akure, said “Nigerians didn’t vote a government to complain about yesterday, if we wanted yesterday, the new government would not be there.”
The cleric, who urged the present administration to stop the blame game, said “the previous government did not only do bad things, but did a lot of good things.
“I think the business of government is not our business; our business is, if the previous government did bad, that is why we voted a new government.
“It is really about taking responsibility. No matter how much you praise or abuse Jonathan, he is not the president of Nigeria. I think that people must understand, you take power to solve problems not to agonise.
“As the head of a family, no matter how bad things are— no food in the house, you as a father can’t enter the house crying.
“It is the question of developing the mechanism; you can’t solve the problem. Even my best friends in the All Progressives Congress (APC) now realise that nobody can sing the song about Jonathan being responsible for the problems we are in.
“We are not asking you to change the whole world, but Jonathan created problems – we are now riding a train between Abuja and Kaduna now, the train wasn’t there before. Things that Jonathan did that can help Nigeria, let’s continue with them. The bad things that Jonathan did and those who deserve to go to prison should go to prison.
“But sending people to prison will only be useful if it puts bread on the table of people.”
Speaking on the anti-corruption crusade, the bishop noted that the war could only be won if the present administration applied right measures, saying “I have always said, you can’t cure malaria by just providing tablets; you might provide tablets to cure malaria, but you have to look at the cause of malaria.
“As long as dirty waters and mosquitoes are around, there will still be the disease. My argument has always been that if we are really fighting corruption, we started off with the assumption that corruption is all about people stealing money.
“But stealing money is actually the other end of corruption. The reason we don’t seem to make much progress is based on the kind of diagnosis; how we diagnose the problem.
“I still believe that unless we get to the root cause of poverty, inequality, which is really the evidence and symptom of corruption; you can talk of fighting corruption all the rest of your life and very little is going to happen.”
While speaking on the high cost of living and the suffering in the land, Kukah said “I think that the extremes are very difficult, but Nigeria is a hell of a country and Nigerians are a hell of a people. These are trying times and they can actually help to bring out the best in us.
“And I think that really, it bears no repeating that I think the challenge government is facing this— just to be able to explain to people that this suffering has something redemptive about it, because if you know that at the end of this suffering, something good is going to happen, people will be ready to live with the consequences.
“But so far, I don’t think government is communicating effectively with ordinary Nigerians, to know where we are and the state of things. So, this is why you increasingly have a situation where people are not willing to make sacrifices because they still believe that their obligation is to protect themselves.
“I think unless government openly explains and engage people very constructively, what you are going to face is a situation where ordinary citizens will keep finding the best ways to protect and defend themselves.”
In his own remarks, the state governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, reiterated call for restructuring of the country and the need for a true federalism.
Mimiko, who explained that true federalism remained the only panacea towards the development of the country, also expressed worries that the Federal Government was biting more than it could chew with the larger percentage of the resources at the disposal of the Federal Government to the detriment of the federating units.
He called on religious leaders to keep praying for the country and noted that the problem of corruption facing Nigeria could be addressed by putting in place right policy, noting that inter-religious conflicts might lead the country into more danger that might be difficult to overcome.
The governor said “government has responsibility of bringing these bigots to book. We are not comfortable with what the bigots are doing. What they are doing is most worrisome in Nigeria. Church has major role to play by praying for Nigeria.”