Matthew Kukah, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, pleaded with Nigerian politicians to provide quality governance, saying that military’s patience should not be taken for granted.
Kukah noted that if the current dispensation were the era when military coups were in vogue, the high level of frustrations experienced since the over 17 years of democracy in the country would have attracted more than one military coup. He commended the military for their patience in allowing democracy to evolve, but he cautioned politicians to clean up their act in order to ensure that the soldiers remain in the barracks.
Briefing journalists at the Kukah Centre in Abuja on February 2, 2018, 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 that “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 misgovernance, calling it “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,” Kukah declared. Challenging Nigerians to be ready to interrogate all promises made by leaders, the bishop said that Nigerians shared in the blame for bad governance they are getting 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 seriously. For example, we were told that corruption would be fought but we never asked questions on how. “Nigerians have lost the sense of integrity and courage. We should take seriously the issue of courage in our convictions.” 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 necessarily in new marriage.
He pointed out that the issues that surrounded the last elections are still very much around and lamented that “we are far more divided now than we were before the 2015 elections.” Kukah urged the government to be more tolerant of opposing views, noting those who express differing opinions should not be 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.
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