Buhari must find middle way on Onnoghen — Kukah

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Right Reverend Mathew Hassan Kukah, on Tuesday, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to find a middle cause on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Kukah, who was the keynote speaker at the unveiling of the new-look Tribune titles and symposium in Lagos State, said that the critical word in the emerging scenario is the process.

The bishop, who spoke on the topic, “Electoral Integrity, Legitimacy of democratic institutions and good governance,” took a periscopic view of Nigeria and countries around the world and declared that integrity is a complex mix in the emerging scenario.

He harped on practical leadership when he said that what was needed for service delivery might not be pious men, but men who understand how to fix road and infrastructure.

He said that for every form of governance adopted in any part of the world, the citizens must remain vigilant.

He said: “What is important is for the society to learn how to detect the early warning signs of the evils of totalitarianism which often start in subtle forms.”

He said that the president must find a middle cause on the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, adding that the justices of the Supreme Court would also play a role in finding meaning to the logjam.

Kukah said: “Now, everything has come to a head with the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Buhari. Despite all these struggles for power, Nigerians fear that very little will be done to change their fortunes.

“Now we are stuck and wondering what the options are. So far, we have, as usual, rushed into our trenches and all we are doing is digging deeper. What is the option and what are the ways out? We are all expressing our views, but in the end, it is what the distinguished jurists in the Supreme Court decide that is important.

“For example, where do they stand and what is their response to the fate of their chief? In the end, where they stand is far more important than what we all think. The key word here is solidarity and it depends on which side of the fence they stand in solidarity with.

“For the president, no one is infallible and what we have now is not a case of whether Chief Justice Onnoghen is innocent or guilty. The critical word is process, right or wrong. It is not too late to retrace the steps and take the path of honour no matter where and how it all ends.

“This justice has to be seen to have been done. This is where backroom diplomacy comes in. It all does not have to be either/or. There is a middle way, and the president has to find it. The whole of Nigeria is his constituency, not the APC or his powers as president. His duty is to keep the country steady and on the right path. It is still daylight and we can find the black goat before the sun finally sets.”

The bishop urged Nigerians to remain eternally vigilant, adding that democracy dies when the people hands over their fate to politicians.

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He said that tyrants and demagogues of the world all came through popular acclaim, adding that as elections draw nearer, Nigerians must look themselves in the mirror and take critical decisions.

He added: “The face of tyranny is often couched in innocence. There have been attacks on the media and disobedience of the courts as we can see in the cases of Sambo Dasuki or El-Zakzaky whose detentions several courts have declared illegal. The government has continued to act in disobedience. Now, they have broken into and desecrated the Supreme Court to install their own chief justice. Who will be next? That is the central question we must face before darkness envelopes us. The Reverend Martin Luther King said that a man cannot climb your back unless you bend it.

“So, as the elections approach, do yourself one favour. You have listened to all the promises that have been made, the ones kept, hurriedly or strategically. Do not get carried away. On election day, before heading for the polls, take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: Am I looking better than I was last year? Do I look healthier? Do I feel more secure? What do I want for my family? Which candidate or party offers the best opportunity for me to improve my conditions and become a better person, a better and proud citizen? These are the questions.”

Speaking on the legacy of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Bishop Kukah declared that the most fitting legacy of his undying spirit is the sustenance of the Tribune titles, which he said has weathered several unkind seasons.

He added that Awo was the most prepared president Nigeria never had, adding that local and international conspiracies robbed him of the leadership of Nigerian.

Father Kukah also said that it was regrettable that various indices emanating from global agencies have failed to credit Nigerian with positive movements on the development ladder.

He added that leaders had also failed to take advantage of incentices such as the Mo Ibrahim leadership price.

For Nigeria, he declared that corruption was fast sucking in all sectors of the polity. He quoted the 2018 Afrobarometer report which indicated that corruption was getting worse.


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