Usman Dan Fodio, the great Islamic preacher and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, proclaimed that a society can live with unbelief, but that no society can survive with injustice.
This applies to virtually all conflicts in the world; the exceptions will be the few ones triggered by religion extremism and greed. It is this injustice that the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah has spent his entire life fighting. I was not expecting him to keep quiet under a Buhari government, legendary for nepotism, and clannishness; a derelict government incapable of protecting Nigerians. Kukah has not disappointed me by persistently telling the truth to the Buhari government. It is heart-wrenching that Muhammadu Buhari, a man elected President of the whole country, turned himself into the President of a section of the country within days of assuming power and runs a government that has shown unparalleled ineptitude and callousness. These are the transgressions Kukah has been fighting.
Our President has been stoking our fault lines for almost six years now, with his skewed appointments. This is the truth that must be told to free Nigerians from shackles.
Plum positions in federal departments and agencies are reserved for his section of the country. I often weep for my beloved Nigeria whenever I flip through the list of people heading key agencies and see that they are just from a section of the country. These include agencies like NPA, DPR, NNPC, PENCOM, NIMASA, UBEC, NSC, TETFund, FIRS, NCC, NBC, SEC, CAC, Customs, REA, TCN, AMCON and more.
The crooked appointments of heads of military and para-military sectors of his government have been most infuriating. It has never happened in the 60 years post-independent history of this country. I will like our dear President to retire into his study and spend quality time reading a list I have compiled for him as follows: Director-General, Department of State Security Services, Yusuf Bichi; National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Burutai; Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar; Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Retired Colonel Hameed Ali; Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Muhammad Abdallah; Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mohammed Babandede; Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu; Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai; Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, and Controller General, Nigeria Correctional Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed.
Mr. President, how does this list smell? Pan-Nigeria? It is bad enough that these military and para-military heads are all from the north. It is even worse that they are all Muslims. In a country where religion remains an issue, concentrating the security apparatus in the hands of one tribe and one religious group is a betrayal of trust of those Christians and southerners who voted for you and an affront on our constitution.
My dear President, those around you, that is, your legion of sycophants, won’t tell you this. They are largely bread and butter politicians. I remember you once promised Nigerian Catholic Bishops that you would take a second look at these skewed security appointments and make amends. You did not keep to this promise. These tilted security appointments are largely responsible for the raging insecurity in Nigeria. Even the North that these security chiefs come from has not benefitted from their power.
Our President has persistently breached this country’s Constitution with his nepotism. Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution emphatically states that the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect federal character and the need to promote national loyalty. This constitutional provision is to ensure that there shall be no predominance of a few states or a few ethnic groups or other factional divisions in government or any of its agencies. Unfortunately, Buhari cares less about this crucial section of the constitution.
Mr. President should quietly retire into his room and spend quality time reading Kukah’s Christmas Day Epistle if he truly loves this country as he still claims. There are three key takeaways from the Epistle I want our President to deeply meditate on. Kukah, in his piece titled, “A Nation in Search of Vindication”, expressed worries about Nigeria’s misery under Buhari: “Against the backdrop of our endless woes, ours has become a nation wrapped in desolation. The prospects of a failed state stare us in the face: endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomie, domestic and community violence, kidnappings, armed robberies etc. Ours has become a house of horror with fear stalking our homes, highways, cities, hamlets and entire communities. The middle grounds of optimism have continued to shift and many genuinely ask; what have we done to the gods? Does Nigeria have a future? Where can we find hope?”
On the unprecedented killings by Boko Haram and bandits and unending abductions under the Buhari government, Kukah asserts: “This government owes the nation an explanation as to where it is headed as we seem to journey into darkness. The spilling of this blood must be related to a more sinister plot that is beyond our comprehension. Are we going to remain hogtied by these evil men or are they gradually becoming part of a larger plot to seal the fate of our country?”
On Buhari’s frightening nepotism and clannishness, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto avows: “President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second class status. He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion. Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war.
“It is curious that President Buhari’s partisanship and commitment to reinforcing the foundations of northern hegemony have had the opposite consequences. For a long time, beyond the pall of politics, very prominent northerners with a conscience have raised the red flag, pointing out the consequences of President Buhari’s nepotism on national cohesion and trust. With time, as hunger, poverty, insecurity engulfed the north, the President’s own supporters began to despair and lament about the state of their collective degradation. Was this not supposed to be their song? The north that the President sought to privilege has become a cauldron of pain and a valley of dry bones. Today, the north itself is crying the most and why not? No one has suffered as much as they have and continue to. The helplessness is palpable and the logic is incomprehensible.”
This is not the first time Kukah would draw attention to Buhari’s bias. During his sermon at the burial of Michael Nnadi, a seminarian killed by kidnappers, the cleric remarked that Buhari was running the “most nepotistic and narcissistic government in known history,” and concluded that the President had not only relegated the national interest to the background, but had also introduced nepotism into the military.
Kukah added: “No one could have imagined that in winning the Presidency, Buhari would bring nepotism and clannishness into the military and the ancillary security agencies; that his government would be marked by supremacist and divisive policies that would push our country to the brink. This President has displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our country’s rich diversity. He has subordinated the larger interests of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women. The impression created now is that, to hold a key and strategic position in Nigeria today, it is more important to be a northern Muslim than a Nigerian.”
Can Buhari honestly say that he has delivered on his promises of building a new and united Nigeria in the last five years? Evidently not! The biggest sin Buhari has committed against this country is the division created with his nepotism, clannishness and religious bigotry. These largely invigorated the clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria. I doubt if Buhari can ever amend his ways. However, I will continue to remind him that he was elected President of the whole country, not of a section of the country, and must start acting as father to all Nigerians. This is the way forward for our beloved country.
The masses of the people must also interrogate Buhari as Kukah has been doing. The biggest factor responsible for Nigeria’s continuing poverty, hunger, disease and underdevelopment is the refusal of most of its citizens to interrogate their leaders. Many are too fearful to challenge these leaders, most of whom are crooked. I also find it frightening that some even make excuses for the failings of these warped leaders instead of interrogating them. Many are always economical with the truth, when it comes to tackling leaders.
Tribalism and religious extremism have also compounded the unwillingness of our people to interrogate kinked leaders. Failure to do this often throws up touts in top political positions in our dear nation. We will persistently have inept and morally-bankrupt leadership, if we don’t change this mentality. If we don’t change this attitude, Nigeria will remain in the inglorious club of underdeveloped countries for many more years to come.