Enough of this change mantra – Cardinal Okogie tells Buhari
The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to retool and lead by example on all fronts or risk plunging Nigeria into a state of despondency.
In a statement by the Director of Social Communications of the Diocese, Monsignor Gabriel Osu, Okogie accused the president of acting disdainfully towards the judicial authorities while millions of Nigerians are abandoned to face unimaginable social problems.
Okogie said, “He (Buhari) must retool, refocus and aggressively face the social, economic (fiscal and monetary) problems we have head-on, without letting the anti-corruption drive look like a political distraction.
“A snail-paced and disordered methodology in governance, his apparent disdain for judicial authorities and decisions, a lost today and found tomorrow 2016 Budget debacle, and a rather rudderless and confused Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with an unclear monetary policy strategy (inevitably increasing the economic uncertainties being faced by Nigerians), have set alarm bells ringing in my mind and in the minds of many discerning Nigerians.
“Indeed, his perceived discordant relationship with the leadership of the Legislature has many naysayers chuckling and remarking that President Buhari’s government is heading into his comfort zone, a one man show.”
Okogie also noted that “a lot of Nigerians are beginning to feel that Buhari is fast transforming this nation into a police state where the president, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Security (DSS) rule the day.
“What they say is given lurid headlines in the media, and it seems to all that some of the defendants cum accused persons are being tried in the press with information conveniently slipping into the hands of the press, presumably from the security agencies, even before such people have been charged to court.”
Frowning at the President’s refusal to heed the court pronouncements on the bail granted to the Director of Radio Biafra and Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) the eminent cleric said: “The pro-Biafran activist, Nnamdi Kanu and the erstwhile NSA, Sambo Dasuki, were granted bail by the courts but such bails were disregarded by the security agents under Buhari’s watch.
“Unfortunately, democracy is difficult and this government must realise that democracy pervasively coloured with impunity, arbitrariness and highhandedness, cannot be used to fight and correct the financial impunity and reckless abandon of the previous administration, even if it is more difficult to do so; the rule of law must be obeyed and be the order of the day.
“If Buhari wants to leave a creditable legacy come 2019, he should retool the bureaucracy. For instance, the roof of the Central Bank is leaking water.
“Governors, who arm-twisted Okonjo-Iweala into signing out our reserves held by Central Bank, are today ministers in the All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
“We are still talking about change and corruption when old things refuse to pass away! These political gimmicks can only carry away gullible or naive Nigerians. President Buhari should beam his flashlight on policies and programmes that will lift up the masses.
“Existing industries are almost dead and they call for urgent revitalisation. The budget ought to aid solutions to the mass unemployment, rural-urban migration, skewedness in the distribution of income, abject rural poverty and industrialisation of rural economy.
“The 774 local government capitals should be linked to their state capitals. Even the mindboggling infrastructure deficits can take the entire tenure to address.”
“The weakness in the bureaucracy has not been addressed. The problem the APC government is trying to solve is bound to re-occur because it is treatment of effect rather than the cause,” he said, adding that causative factors are being totally ignored or glossed-over while institutional weakness pervades the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), offices of the Accountant-General, Auditor-General and the Central Bank.”
Irked by the continuous change mantra, Cardinal Okogie said: “Our Change must change something. How could we continue to talk of change in a static system? How could we be talking of change when the same crew are governors, ministers, senators, and members of the House of Representatives? This is a cyclical devolution of power to the same people who are never out of power!
“What sort of change is the President talking about? When will the youth take over when even a governor does not take a bow and go? When shall we plan for the replacement of delinquent leadership? This is what constitutes change. Change is not changing from Jonathan to Buhari.”
Continuing, he said: “Change is behavioural and pervades all levels of society including the family, the church, the mosque, schools, market women and business men. When we talk of change, we talk of positive-salutary, healthy growth and development oriented change that cuts across the entire gamut of the society.
“What sort of change is this that ignores the glaring unequal distribution of national income? It is absurd that the same government that is unable to pay N18,000 per month to the lowest grade of labour can afford to pay N1.8 million per month to anyone in the economy. Why must tax payers’ money be used to feed Mr. President and his family?
“Why must the tax payers’ money be used to buy brand new exotic vehicles for the legislature, judges, ministers and governors when they are heavily paid?
“Why don’t they use loan finance or mortgage finance to buy their cars and houses? This is also a form of looting and it is the cause of grounding the economy and calling in an IMF spin-doctor all the time.
“Precisely two years ago this same President Buhari rejected off-hand this use of a spin doctor to heal the ailing economy. He preferred the use of counter-trade and inward looking policies like cutting down costs and flamboyant exotic life styles.
“Today, I am not so sure we have the same Buhari. I do hope he has not changed all the colours of the rainbow. The ruling elites are living a luxurious lifestyle while the masses are in abject poverty and yet we are all Nigerians. Enough of this change-conundrum,” Okogie warned.