Connect with us

Opinion

Democracy Day:National Broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari

Published

on

Spread the love

Democracy Day:National Broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari, May 29, 2016

My compatriots,

It is one year today since our administration came into office. It has been a year of triumph, consolidation, pains and achievements. By age, instinct and experience, my preference is to look forward, to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead and rededicate the administration to the task of fixing Nigeria. But I believe we can also learn from the obstacles we have overcome and the progress we made thus far, to help strengthen the plans that we have in place to put Nigeria back on the path of progress.
We affirm our belief in democracy as the form of government that best assures the active participation and actual benefit of the people. Despite the many years of hardship and disappointment the people of this nation have proved inherently good, industrious tolerant, patient and generous. 
The past years have witnessed huge flows of oil revenues. From 2010 average oil prices were $100 per barrel. But economic and security conditions were deteriorating. We campaigned and won the election on the platform of restoring security, tackling corruption and restructuring the economy. On our arrival, the oil price had collapsed to as low as $30 per barrel and we found nothing had been kept for the rainy day. Oil prices have been declining since 2014 but due to the neglect of the past, the country was not equipped to halt the economy from declining.
The infrastructure, notably rail, power, roads were in a decrepit state. All the four refineries were in a state of disrepair, the pipelines and depots neglected.
Huge debts owed to contractors and suppliers had accumulated. Twenty-seven states could not pay salaries for months. In the north-east, Boko Haram had captured 14 local governments, driven the local authorities out, hoisted their flags. Elsewhere, insecurity was palpable; corruption and impunity were the order of the day. In short, we inherited a state near collapse.
On the economic front, all oil dependent countries, Nigeria included, have been struggling since the drop in prices. Many oil rich states have had to take tough decisions similar to what we are doing. The world, Nigeria included has been dealing with the effects of three significant and simultaneous global shocks starting in 2014:

. A 70% drop in oil prices.
. Global growth slowdown.
. Normalization of monetary policy by my the United States federal reserve.
Our problems as a government are like that of a farmer who in a good season harvests ten bags of produce. The proceeds enable him to get by for rest of the year. However, this year he could only manage 3 bags from his farm. He must now think of other ways to make ends meet.

From day one, we purposely set out to correct our condition, to change Nigeria. We reinforced and galvanized our armed forces with new leadership and resources. We marshaled our neighbours in a joint task force to tackle and defeat Boko Haram. By the end of December 2015, all but pockets and remnants had been routed by our gallant armed forces. Our immediate focus is for a gradual and safe return of internally displaced persons in safety and dignity and for the resumption of normalcy in the lives of people living in these areas.

EFCC was given the freedom to pursue corrupt officials and the judiciary was alerted on what Nigerians expect of them in the fight against corruption. On the economy, in particular foreign exchange and fuel shortages, our plan is to save foreign exchange by fast tracking repair of the refineries and producing most of our fuel requirements at home. And by growing more food in Nigeria, mainly rice, wheat and sugar we will save billions of dollars in foreign exchange and drastically reduce our food import bill.

We resolved to keep the Naira steady, as in the past, devaluation had done dreadful harm to the Nigerian economy. Furthermore, I supported the monetary authority’s decision to ensure alignment between monetary policy and fiscal policy. We shall keep a close look on how the recent measures affect the Naira and the economy. But we cannot get away from the fact that a strong currency is predicated on a strong economy. And a strong economy pre-supposes an industrial productive base and a steady export market. The measures we must take, may lead to hardships. The problems Nigerians have faced over the last year have been many and varied. But the real challenge for this government has been reconstructing the spine of the Nigerian state. The last twelve months have been spent collaborating with all arms of government to revive our institutions so that they are more efficient and fit for purpose:

. That means a bureaucracy better able to develop and deliver policy
. That means an independent judiciary, above suspicion and able to defend citizen’s rights and dispense justice equitably.
. That means a legislature that actually legislates effectively and
Above all; that means political parties and politicians committed to serving the Nigerian people rather than themselves.
These are the pillars of the state on which democracy can take root and thrive. But only if they are strong and incorruptible. Accordingly, we are working very hard to introduce some vital structural reforms in the way we conduct government business and lay a solid foundation on which we can build enduring change.

An important first step has been to get our housekeeping right. So we have reduced the extravagant spending of the past. We started boldly with the treasury single account, stopping the leakages in public expenditure.

We then identified forty-three thousand ghost workers through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system. That represents pay packets totalling N4.2 billion stolen every month.  In addition, we will save Twenty-Three Billion  Naira per annum from official travelling and sitting allowances alone.

Furthermore, the efficiency unit will cut costs and eliminate duplications in ministries and departments. Every little saving helps. The reduction in the number of ministries and work on restructuring and rationalization of the MDAs is well underway. When this work is complete we will have a leaner, more efficient public service that is fit for the purpose of changing nigeria for the good and for good.

As well as making savings, we have changed the way public money is spent. In all my years as a public servant, I have never come across the practice of padding budgets. I am glad to tell you now we not only have a budget, but more importantly, we have a budget process that is more transparent, more inclusive and more closely tied to our development priorities than in the recent past. 30% of the expenditure in this budget is devoted to capital items. Furthermore, we are projecting non-oil revenues to surpass proceeds from oil. Some critics have described the budget exercise as clumsy. Perhaps. But it was an example of consensus building, which is integral to democratic government. In the end we resolved our differences.

We have, therefore, delivered significant milestones on security, corruption and the economy. In respect of the economy, I would like to directly address you on the very painful but inevitable decisions we had to make in the last few weeks specifically on the pump price of fuel and the more flexible exchange rate policy announced by the central bank. It is even more painful for me that a major producer of crude oil with four refineries that once exported refined products is today having to import all of its domestic needs. This is what corruption and mismanagement has done to us and that is why we must fight these ills.

As part of the foundation of the new economy we have had to reform how fuel prices had traditionally been fixed. This step was taken only after protracted consideration of its pros and cons. After comprehensive investigation my advisers and I concluded that the mechanism was unsustainable.

We are also engaged in making recoveries of stolen assets some of which are in different jurisdictions. The processes of recovery can be tedious and time consuming, but today I can confirm that thus far: significant amount of assets have been recovered. A considerable portion of these are at different stages of recovery. Full details of the status and categories of the assets will now be published by the Ministry of Information and updated periodically. When forfeiture formalities are completed these monies will be credited to the treasury and be openly and transparently used in funding developmental projects and the public will be informed.

On the Niger Delta, we are committed to implementing the United Nations Environment Programme report and are advancing clean-up operations. I believe the way forward is to take a sustainable approach to address the issues that affect the delta communities. Re-engineering the amnesty programmes is an example of this. The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing Niger Delta problems. If the militants and vandals are testing our resolve, they are much mistaken. We shall apprehend the perpetrators and their sponsors and bring them to justice.

The policy measures and actions taken so far are not to be seen as some experiment in governance. We are fully aware that those vested interests who have held Nigeria back for so long will not give up without a fight. They will sow divisions, sponsor vile press criticisms at home and abroad, incite the public in an effort to create chaos rather than relinquish the vice-like grip they have held on Nigeria.

The economic misfortune we are experiencing in the shape of very low oil prices has provided us with an opportunity to restructure our economy and diversify. We are in the process of promoting agriculture, livestocks, exploiting our solid mineral resources and expanding our industrial and manufacturing base. That way, we will import less and make the social investments necessary to allow us to produce a large and skilled workforce.

Central Bank of Nigeria will offer more fiscal incentives for business that prove capable of manufacturing products that are internationally competitive. We remain committed to reforming the regulatory framework, for investors by improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the first steps along the path of self-sufficiency in rice, wheat and sugar – big users of our scarce foreign exchange – have been taken. The Labour Intensive Farming Enterprise  will boost the economy and ensure inclusive growth in long neglected communities. Special intervention funds through the Bank of Agriculture will provide targeted support. Concerns remain about rising cost of foods such as maize, rice, millet, beans and gari. Farmers tell me that they are worried about the cost of fertilizers, pesticides and the absence of extension services. The federal and state governments are on the same page in tackling these hurdles in our efforts at increased food production and ultimately food security.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the increasing role that our women are playing in revitalizing the agricultural sector. Modern farming is still hard and heavy work and I salute our Nigerian women in sharing this burden. In this respect I am very pleased to announce that the government will shortly be launching the national women’s empowerment fund, which I have approved to provide N1.6 billion in micro-finance loans to women across the nation to assist in rehabilitating the economies of rural communities, particularly those impacted by the insurgency and conflict.

With respect to solid minerals, the minister has produced a roadmap where we will work closely with the world bank and major international investors to ensure through best practices and due diligence that we choose the right partners. Illegal mining remains a problem and we have set up a special security team to protect our assets. Special measures will be in place to protect miners in their work environment.

For too long, ours has been a society that neglects the poor and victimizes the weak. A society that promotes profit and growth over development and freedom. A society that fails to recognize that, to quote the distinguished economist Amartya Sen “ poverty is not just lack of money. It is not having the capability to realize one’s full potential as a human being.”

So, today, I am happy to formally  launch, by far the most ambitious social protection programme in our history. A programme that both seeks to start the process of lifting many from poverty, while at the same time creating the opportunity for people to fend for themselves. In this regard, Five Hundred Billion Naira has been appropriated in the 2016 budget for social intervention programmes in five key areas. We are committed to providing job creation opportunities for five hundred thousand teachers and one hundred thousand artisans across the nation. 5.5 million children are to be provided with nutritious meals through our school feeding programme to improve learning outcomes, as well as enrolment and completion rates. The conditional cash transfer scheme will provide financial support for up to one million vulnerable beneficiaries, and complement the enterprise programme – which will target up to one million market women; four hundred and sixty thousand artisans; and two hundred thousand agricultural workers, nationwide. Finally, through the education grant scheme, we will encourage students studying sciences, technology, engineering and maths, and lay a foundation for human capital development for the next generation

I would like to pay a special tribute to our gallant men and women of the armed forces who are in harm’s way so that the rest of us can live and go about our business in safety. Their work is almost done. The nation owes them a debt of gratitude.

Abroad, we want to assure our neighbours, friends and development partners that Nigeria is firmly committed to democratic principles. We are ready partners in combating terrorism, cyber crimes, control of communicable diseases and protection of the environment. Following on the Paris Agreement, COP 21, we are fully committed to halting and reversing desertification. Elsewhere, we will intensify efforts to tackle erosion, ocean surge, flooding and oil spillage which I referred to earlier by implementing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

We are grateful to the international community notably France, the US, UK and China for their quick response in helping to tackle the recent Ebola outbreak in our sub-region. We also acknowledge the humanity shown by the Italian and German governments in the treatment of boat people, many fleeing from our sub-region because of lack of economic opportunity. We thank all our partners especially several countries in the EU.

We appreciate the valuable work that the UN agencies, particularly UNICEF, ICRC, the World Food Program have been doing. We must also appreciate the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, the Global Fund and Educate A Child of Qatar for the excellent work in our health, education and other sectors.

Fellow citizens let me end on a happy note. To the delight of all, two of the abducted Chibok girls have regained their freedom. During the last one year, not a single day passed without my agonizing about these girls. Our efforts have centred around negotiations to free them safely from their mindless captors. We are still pursuing that course. Their safety is of paramount concern to me and I am sure to most Nigerians. I am very worried about the conditions those still captured might be in. Today I re-affirm our commitment to rescuing our girls. We will never stop until we bring them home safely. As I said before, no girl should be put through the brutality of forced marriage and every Nigerian girl has the right to an education and a life choice.

I thank you and appeal to you to continue supporting the government’s efforts to fix Nigeria.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

Presidential hallucinosis and political suicide

Published

on

By

Spread the love

Presidential hallucinosis and political suicide

By Professor Obasi Igwe


Nationalities meaning well for a restructured Nigeria amidst the existential emergency, have articulated their core interests beyond religions. The Yoruba are near unanimous carrying along their kinsmen everywhere including in Kwara and Kogi states. The Hausa, unlike the servile
yesteryears are gradually
gaining consciousness of
cultural individuality worthy
of respect. Many Fulani
even suggest Nigeria as
their “global” peoples’
rightful ancestral homeland.
Some AwkaCross elites are
continually stepping down
erstwhile Efik-Annang-Oron
-central Ibibio differences in
a new assurance of basic
linguistic ties. There is a
considerable unity among
the Kanuri, Nigeria’s
Islamic pioneers, and ideas
are emerging favouring a
renewed Kwararafa even
beyond the Benue River.
Then, many Ijaw speak of
their kind and possible
Nigerians down to the
coasts of Brazzaville, while
the Tiv of Benue state
assure those elsewhere of
continuing filial
accommodation. The Ogoni,
language apart, nevertheless
cultivate a single nationhood
. Etc. Unfortunately, as
Nigerians are uniting their
peoples to become credible
constitutive units in a
reformed polity,
compromised Igbo elites are
tearing apart between those
that are “core” and those not
with no reasons justifying
the barricade.
Socio-linguistic groups
seeking true federalism with
they or combinations thereof
becoming federating units
are making a just and
legitimate demand to free
them from the violence and
poverty of institutive
federalism imposed to serve
domestic reaction and its
external allies and
necessarily requiring
unequal unitarized
centralization instead of
federalized dispersal of
power. Any objective
restructuring will solve this
issue of improper
distribution of values and
guarantee a relative self-
determination of
nationalities to promote
their cultural progress in a
democratic secular state.
Hence, the national question6
which embodies all political
, economic, military-
security and ideological
requirements of the
equitable reorganization of
the Nigerian state. Patriotic
Nigerians understand all this
, and those feigning
ignorance of the meaning
and implications of
restructuring are enemies of
the country and part-authors
of the backward march
today. The Igbo are neither
better nor worse than others
and since divers
nationalities are regrouping
they should do the same for
not doing so could be a
source of future instability.
In a 16th May 1966 letter
to Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu
Zik had lamented “the role
the Ibo plays generally . . .
against himself . . .”.
Therefore those among the
Igbo appearing as an elites
conspiracy to mess up the
Igbo using a dagger called
“core Igbo” should relent.
These are adepts in
confusing Igbo with8
Southeast so that people are
deceived into supporting
one thing while manipulated
for another. They start great
speeches with Igbo and
midway subtly divert to
Southeast and vice versa, in
a brain-twisting that other
Nigerians do not impose on
their nationalities. The
program to inveigle the Igbo
into a restructuring hinged
on Southeast insularity
instead of Igbo and other
nationhoods run counter to
the national question at the
heart of the Nigerian crisis.
So also the impression that
other Nigerians are
necessary enemies of the
Igbo instead of they that
snatch mid-course, items of
development theorized at
every level. We respect their
views but they are wrong.
Those defining
themselves as core Igbo
listen only to themselves,
implying that every other
Igbo are un-core,
suggestively inferior. The
un-core Igbo would include
such great assets as
Chibuike Amaechi, Nyesom
Wike, Nduka Obaigbena,
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
Ifeanyi Okowa, Uche
Okwukwu, Peter Odili, the
Elumelus, Jim Ovia, J. J.
Okocha, Godwin Emefiele,
and Frank Ndili who rebuilt
the UNN. Are these who
according to the theories of
the core should give way for
them to be President,
whence could be imposed
one or other contentious
mode of sectarian
primitivism or cultism
instead of civilized
secularism upon the East?
From the un-core were
many illustrious sons that
distinguished the Igbo
globally: King Jaja, Azikiwe
(Umezechima), Nzeogwu,
Achuzie, Amabibi Nsirim,
Emma Okocha, Obi Wali,
Jackson Mpi, Dennis
Osadebay, and Professors
Elizabeth Isichie, Angulu
Onwuejeogwu and B. I. C.
Ijeoma.
No federal road in the
East had not priorly been
awarded to one or other core
Igbo leader; then, where are
the roads? No Eastern
airport or other
infrastructure had not once
been under a “core” federal
Minister, but laid waste and
awaiting President Buhari to
re-undertake. Yes the Igbo
are greatly marginalized, but
if the Southeast had been
totally surrendered to its
core leaders, citizens could
be living under a higher
reign of terror of the likes of
Otokoto and Osisikankwu,
outfits of political
intimidation, kidnapping,
murder and mayhem used
by those who rather should
be in hell than the balefully
procured public spaces they
occupy. Igbo youths are
suffering and Igboland
wasting and the solution of
the core elites is the
exclusion of those kinsmen
strategic for its rejuvenation.
There are few un-core with
the EFCC; in the core
candidates are legion,
especially having worked
with obliging Jonathan
without remembering their
suffering peoples in a field
day of core corruption
instead of development of
the prebendal core kingdom.
One reason the East is
deteriorating is because
intimidated Igbo
intelligentsia are yet to start
holding these people to
account or wake up to the
demands of civilized self-
examination. Not everyone
is culpable, but filthy fingers
corrupt the rest.
A question to those
desiring core Igbo instead of
Igbo as President of Nigeria:
who will give or elect you to
it when the base is
weakened by division? Shall
the APC spend eight years
“fighting corruption” merely
to return the country to its
bastion just in order to mess
up the Igbo and ensure their
unreadiness for restructuring
? Groups serious about
national power must first
encourage internal unity,
which broader pool would
avail wider choice of
candidates of character and
knowledge to build a better
Nigeria. While the West and
others are somehow
industrializing, inundating
the Southeast are churches
and cathedrals distorting the
orientation towards
industrialization and
exposing us Christians and
insulting Igboland as a
contested theocratic enclave
mixing faith with politics
and removed from the
march of secular progress.
A genuine Ohanaeze
should have been addressing
these sufferings and time
bombs of Igboland, but how
could a problem be the
solution? Claimed core Igbo
leaders would be brought to
serve Ohanaeze Ndigbo, but
no sooner they assume the
office than it’s conversion to
Ohanaeze Southeast with no
honest approaches to Agbor,
Igbo Akiri, Ezza Ezekunna,
Diobu/Rebisi, Isiokpo, Elele
, etc peoples or traditional
rulers; if anything it is to
annoy them with insults
about “core” Igbo. Some
claim that “core” Igbo
uniting with the “un-core”
hurts the “feelings” of
others. In the “Vanguard” of
Wednesday, January 06,
2021, an Igbo intellectual
bemoaned about Ohanaeze
and Igbo “leaders”: “We
have forensically studied . . .
the whole thing about
Ohanaeze and found out that
. . . the characters we have
in the socio-cultural and
political leaderships in
present Igbo Nation are
unarguably the mouthpiece
of the Caliphate . . . at the
mercy of compromised Igbo
governors who are
desperately looking for who
will clean up their bad
image having failed
woefully in the governance
and security of Igbo Nation.
” But is the caliphate so daft
; if anything it takes
enormous brilliance to
subject peoples to slavery.
So, trusting those despised
by their own and whose
contribution to progress is
its destruction is near
impossible. Yet, the fantasy
remains that instead of
honest human beings,
nihilistic Southeasterners
with no ideas about
anything except corruption
could be “trusted” by the
caliphate to rule, rather ruin
Nigeria merely for the sake
of delaying the end of the
former.
The core interests of the
Igbo in line with those of
others seeking true
federalism in a multi-
cultural polity had long been
defined: a secular
democratic state with united
Igbo-speaking peoples down
to the coast in the about 13
contiguous states they are
indigenous to as one
constituent unit, with a
functional modernization of
the Port Harcourt, Bonny,
Opobo and other Eastern
seaports and their organic re
-linkage with the interior.
This would re-trigger an
industrial revolution in the
East and Middle Belt and a
spillover development of the
Northeast and Central. And
by moderating demographic
and related pressures, help
reduce ethnic tensions and
further facilitate
developmental quantum
jumps in the West,
Northwest and part-Central.
Such interdependent poles
of development, a product
of honest restructuring
would commit the wasting
energies of the youths to a
peaceful win-win
competitive emulation and
away from the antagonisms
and bloodshed being
engineered from sundry
sources. No group should be
holed up in an artificial
closet if we have an honest
intention to build up a
harmonious Nigeria. Self-
styled core Igbo and
Ohanaeze leaders are rather
diverting people to a
laughable aku ruo ulo (bring
wealth home) doctrine of
housing – as if any Igbo
ever needed a tutorial on
houses.
President Buhari who
given our criticisms over
lapses thereafter started
building roads and other
infrastructures in the East
previously ignored by “core
Igbo” PDP leaders is not
doing so for the caliphate.
The regrouping of many
progressive elements,
including some prominent
Igbo ANPP is what attracted
some of us into the APC,
short of organizing a
revolutionary party to
overthrow the evil order.
APC is free to divert to
norms antithetical to
civilized social democracy
which “progressives”
implies, and that would not
be for want of our trying.
Caliphates all over the
world are violent corrupt
feudal institutions that have
no place in civilized life.
None of its apologists had
ever suggested that the
attributes, the reason the
world united to eradicate
them, are different in
Nigeria, except that the
cultural diversity of the
country forced it from
absolutism to parallelism.
How then could any leaders,
especially from a
traditionally democratic
Igbo society, subject
themselves to feudal
atavism to please a caliphate
apprehensive of its
anachronism and long
overdue for dissolution on
account of its inutility?
Therefore, any circles
proposing a “core Igbo” President from the coterie of selfish Southeast individuals answerable to the caliphate instead of secular constitutional order, are number one enemies of the country. True lovers of civilized Nigeria in the APC must stand up to be counted and firmly assert the essence of “progressives” in the search for President instead of pandering unto a path that leads nowhere.

Professor Obasi Igwe
c/o Department of Political Science University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Continue Reading

Opinion

A nation still in search of its soul

Published

on

By

Spread the love

A nation still in search of its soul

By Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah

Sermon at the Wake keep Mass for His Grace, Archbishop Peter Yariyock Jatau (1932-2020) at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, Kaduna on January 5th, 2021.

As I stand before you, I feel pulled between the poles of honour, humility and trepidation. I am honoured and humbled to be asked to preach in the wake keep of our beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather in the faith, His Grace, Archbishop Peter Yariyock Jatau. However, you are also asking me to perform an almost impossible task, namely, to pull the threads of the life and times of a rare human being within a short time. This is the basis of my trepidation. I therefore crave your indulgence as I, on your behalf, try to paint a few strokes of love on a canvass that is impossible to fill up. Like the six blind men of Hindustan, each of us can only tell a small part of what we experienced of this great man.

Today, our dear nation is like the proverbial farmer searching for his black goat. He has to do it with a sense of urgency because darkness is setting in as the sun quickly recedes. Our nation has become one huge waste land, huge debris of the deceit, lies, treachery, double dealing and duplicity. Nigerian politicians have turned our politics into a huge trojan horse, a hoax, a hall of guile and dissimulation. The levels of frustration are rising by the day and we can see all this in the rise in domestic violence and intercommunal conflicts. A combination of all these has turned us unto a nation at war with itself.

Nigerians complain that the country is full of Churches and Mosques and they cannot find the values of these religions in everyday life. We sin at home by stealing the nation’s resources but we seek repentance and forgiveness in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem in the guise of lesser or higher pilgrimages. We make money from abandoning projects duly paid for by governments which have adopted Contractocracy as a governance mechanism. We are allowing others to use our money to develop their own infrastructure. Our elites all assembled in Dubai for Christmas and also to welcome the New Year. As virtue recedes into the sunset in our country, there is an urgent need for us to pause and take stock of what is required to save our country.

Remembering Archbishop Jatau is an opportunity to recall the contributions of Christian Missionaries and Christian education to laying the foundation for the production of the quality and caliber of men and women of yesterday whose legendary moral fiber still resonates in Nigeria today. Recall, for example, just in what is today known as Kaduna State, such institutions as: College of Mary Immaculate, Kafanchan; St. Enda’s College, Zaria; St. John’s College, Kaduna; Queen of Apostles College, Kaduna; St. Mary’s College, Fadan Kaje; Sacred Heart College, Kaduna; St. Anne’s Primary School, Kaduna; St. Louis College, Zonkwa; St. Bartholomew’s College, Wusasa; St. Bartholomew’s Wusasa; ECWA Secondary School, Kagoro.

Look at the quality of manpower that the Church around Wusasa, Zaria, produced so early on in the history of our nation. For example, in 1924, Kaka Audu became the first Woman to write the Cambridge Examination in Northern Nigeria (the Sardauna was only 12 years old!). R.A.B Dikko, Fulani convert to Christianity, became a Medical Doctor in 1938 and was the founding President of Jamiyar Mutanen Arewa which metamorphosed into the Northern People’s Congress, Ambassador John Garba was the first African to be appointed to the World Bank, Muazu Audu and P.O. Ishaku were the first Pharmacists in Northern Nigeria, Mrs. Afiniki Hamman was the first Woman to become the Controller of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, Mallam J.H. Chindo was the first Controller of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and Editor of Nigerian Citizen Newspapers, Yusuf Dantsoho a leading PRP Politician was a product of St. Bartholomew’s School Wusasa, Professor Ishaya Audu became the first African Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Adamu Baikie became the first Nigerian Dean of the Faculty of Education and the first Professor of Education in northern Nigeria and the first Nigerian to become a Vice Chancellor in three different universities in Nigeria and Lesotho. Recall, legends like, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Theophilus Danjuma, IBM Haruna, Canon Mohammed, pioneer Chairman of the Public Complaints Commission and Code of Conduct Bureau Justice Jacob Haruna Dandaura was the first Hausa Christian to become the Sarkin Sabon Gari of Kano, Mallam John Tafida Umaru former Sarkin Wusasa was the first to introduce Hausa Broadcast in USSR. Our own brother, uncle and father, Sir Brendan Shehu, a Fulani convert from Islam, pioneered Film in Nigeria. Some of these and many more came from Fulani, Hausa and other backgrounds to form a formidable moral voice in Northern Nigeria. Sadly, years of horrible politics, ignorance, prejudice have turned religion into a weapon of death, thus killing the glory of the region. We are now reaping the harvest of the seeds we sowed yesterday and the children born from this ugly union have rejected education and are now the killers of Boko Haram. They are the bandits holding our nation hostage. We must make a quick turnaround and restore sanity.

To celebrate this relationship and to appreciate what the Church had done, in his Independence speech, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister stated among other things: “We are grateful to the British officers whom we have known, first as masters, and then as leaders, and finally as partners, but always as friends. And there have been countless missionaries who have laboured unceasingly in the cause of education and to whom we owe many of our medical services.” The Prime Minister was aware of what the Catholic Church had done.

Archbishop Peter Jatau and his generation took over the mantle of leadership from those very dedicated missionaries, raised the bar and by sheer diplomatic efficiency, sought to forge and strengthen a viable relationship between Church and State. Along with great men like the late Alayedeino, Bishop Ogboyomi, Ambassador Jolly Tanko Yusuf, Engineer Salifu, Mr. Dogo, and a host of others, they held us as the turbulent waters of the civil war, internal crisis and conflicts created severe cracks on the structures of unity and development in northern Nigeria. Trust in a united north came under severe strain coming to a climax with the takeover of schools that had been built with no contribution from the state. All our schools, built with our own sweat are still held in captivity by state governments. Almost all the State governments in the south have returned schools to the Churches and Anambra state today is a shining example of the gains. Every state that returned schools to the Churches is now far better off. While their students are receiving international awards, scholarships and so on, our youth in the north are joining Boko Haram, criminal gangs of bandits and are enveloped in poverty. The North will soon be in the hands of these killers very soon because today’s Almajiri is tomorrow’s leader!

Post-civil war Nigeria faced severe challenges but nowhere was this more so than the North with Kaduna being the epicentre. Suspicion gradually set in. No one needs to recite the litany of woes and bloodshed that have characterised the great city of Kaduna. Archbishop Jatau saw through the good and the bad times. Amidst all this, like the moral giant that he was, he seemed to have heeded the words of the great American poet, Max Ehrmann (1872-19450), who, in the famous poem, Desiderata wrote:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Today, the ruling elites over the years failed to manage the diversity of this great region in general and the great city of Kaduna in particular. Toxic politics fueled and produced much hatred which destroyed the dreams and moral vision of a good city. Today, Kaduna has come to characterise some of the out layers of the Inferno. Today Kaduna is a tale of two cities. However, it is gratifying to note that the new government is embarking on some excellent physical infrastructure which will transform Kaduna. We pray and encourage the Governor will be even handed and to see the broader picture because social infrastructure for markets, entertainment have more capacity for dialogue and peace than a million seminars.

It is time to pause and ask, where have all the good men gone? Where did it all begin to go wrong for us? Where did the building blocks of trust begin to collapse? Why has sin and sinfulness enveloped our nation? Why has our sun set at midday? How did the milk of humanity become the blood of death in Nigeria? Is it in the stars? I have heard many very educated Nigerians ask, what did we do to the gods? When Jonah was in his boat, he was the only one running away from the will of God. It seems that today, ours is a boat in which almost all passengers are running away from the will of God.

The real challenge for us now is what really is Archbishop Jatau’s legacy? How should we remember him? Who was he for us as a community? My relationship with Archbishop Jatau would be the stuff of a large book. However, I have fond memories of a man of great affection for his Priests, love for the people of God and love for the Church that he led. He was ordained a Priest on July 7th, 1963 and a consecrated a Bishop in 1972; I was only two years in the Major Seminary. As a Priest, I could never, never, never ever have wished for or hoped for any other Bishop as my Bishop. I am convinced that had he not been my Bishop, I am convinced that my life would have been totally different as a Priest. I am not sure how many Bishops would have coped with my troubles. I started making trouble very early on in life as a young Seminarian, but it was often good trouble. I asked questions, I made my point rather strongly and Archbishop knew that this was not an act of disobedience but that of filial confidence.

Archbishop Jatau did not only encourage me, but made it clear to me that he was happy and believed in with what I was doing. Even at a very early age as a Priest, he often sought my views on matters that concerned me. Not for one day did he ever give me an assignment that he did not seek my views. I barely six months a Priest when I was elected a Member of the Consultors, I was told I had the highest number of votes and therefore would have to become the Chairman at the meetings. Apart from the Archbishop, I was the only indigenous priest and by far the youngest and most inexperienced. In our first meeting with me as Chairman, Fr. Liam Burke raised his hand to speak and then Archbishop raised his hand. I asked Fr. Burke to speak but he deferred to His Grace. I asked Fr Burke to go ahead. Having vacated his seat and now sitting by my right, His Grace turned to my tiny frame perched on the Chairman’s seat and said: I am the Archbishop. I looked at him and said: Your Grace, I am the Chairman. We all laughed but after the meeting, he said to me: You will be a good Chairman!

I was barely in my second year as a Priest when one day he called me to his office to announce that he had just returned from a meeting of the Bishops of Kaduna Province and that it has been resolved that I should return to the Seminary as the Dean of Discipline. I was only in my second year as a priest. How could I go back to take over a job that was meant for much older and experienced priests? I would be the youngest and most inexperienced Dean of Discipline in the history of the Seminary! (But today, some of my students then are now my bosses, Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso, Archbishops Kaigama and Matthew Audu are evidence that I definitely worked well as Dean of Discipline!). In his characteristic manner, he said to me: “The Bishops have decided that you should go back to the Seminary as the Dean of Discipline, but I do not know what you think. Go and think about it and let me know.” It sounded strange but that was Archbishop Jatau: I wondered, the Bishops of the Province have taken a decision, yet my Archbishop was speaking to me as a messenger. He was asking me to think about it. I knew that the exit door was already firmly locked and it was impossible for me to say No. That was how sensitive he was about his Priests and this trait would trail all my assignments from being appointed to the Catholic Secretariat to all my appointments from civil authorities.

Archbishop’s self-effacing humility was legendary. In my first year as a priest, my late friend, Fr Anthony Sarki and I travelled to Jos and we spent the night with Msgr Kevin Aje as he then was. We returned to Kaduna and I discovered I had forgotten my Breviary. I did not know what to do at that time of poor communications. One day, Archbishop Jatau showed up in St. Andrew’s around 8am in the morning. I welcomed him and wondered what had brought him so early, but he held out my Breviary saying, almost like a young Seminarian, “Msgr. Aje said you forgot your Breviary in his house and asked me to give it to you!” That was my dear Archbishop.

By 1982, I had never met Cardinal Ekandem in real life. One morning, Archbishop asked me to come to his office. I arrived his office, wondering what the reason was only for him to deliver a terse message to me: “I have been contacted by Cardinal Ekandem and he says he wants to see you in Abuja tomorrow. So, get ready, I will come and pick you tomorrow morning to Suleja.” I was literally shaking. What is Cardinal looking for me for, Your Grace? I tried but could not get a word out of the Archbishop. I hardly slept that night. The next day, Archbishop showed up in Kakuri and we started a painful and endless journey to Abuja. I wondered what awaited me at the other end. I tried to ask Archbishop Jatau what it was that he and I couldn’t settle especially as I knew we had had no quarrels or disagreement. Was seeing the Cardinal going to be the end of my priesthood? That is how I was led to the Cardinal’s presence and the great man shocked me by requesting me to come and work with him in Abuja. The rest is history. The stories are many and all of us his Priests have ours.

The challenge for us now is to review the future and think about how to immortalize this great legend of a man, a man who fought and won many wars without lifting his finger. I can hardly remember seeing Archbishop go into a temper. He never raised his voice at me. I do not think that this was because he loved me in particular. He loved and treated all his priests with the gentle tenderness of a grandfather. He gave more carrot than stick. He never reminded you of any mistakes you made, unless you persisted in your bad ways.

As priests, we all take a vow of obedience. However, on three occasions, I broke this vow in the presence of Archbishop by way of filial disobedience but I incurred no punishment. First, perhaps persuaded by my good friends, Justice Kumai Pius Aka’ahs and Emmanuel Toro, His Grace asked me to go to Rome to study Canon Law early in 1977. In his usual manner, he asked what I thought about it. I told him that I would rather read Law in Ahmadu Bello University especially as Canon Law will not allow me to practice in the courts in Nigeria. We dropped the matter. Much later on, he asked what I thought about going to Ahmadu Bello to teach and also serve as a Chaplain. I told him that I would do either but not both. I prefer to be either a full time Chaplain or a Teacher. Combining both would be a problem. As a Teacher, I might likely engage in ASUU politics and get into trouble.

I had another moment of filial disobedience. After I finished serving at Oputa Panel, President Obasanjo offered me an appointment, was quite powerful. I told the President that first, as a Priest, I had no wish to serve in Government directly under any President. When I tabled this before my Archbishop, he told me that on the contrary, I should go ahead and take the job. He argued that because it could enable me to influence policy directly. He asked me to think it over but I told him my mind was already made up. I called to tell the President that I was not available for the job. When I gave my Archbishop my reasons, he accepted and the matter died there.

Anyone and everyone must have their stories about this great man. However, I want to end by raising questions about the challenges of prophetic witness in the Catholic Church. Time will not allow me to go into any details of this. However, it is important that we all understand that the challenge of any Priest is to think hard about what faithfulness to the Gospel means along with faithfulness to his or her country. The vision and the mission statements of Jesus are in Lk. 4:7 and John 10:10. Jesus speaks of the mission to set the captives free. Jesus said in John 10:10 that “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” What does freedom mean and what does a full life mean? Interpreting these texts, putting flesh on them, faithfully carrying them out is what led Jesus to the Cross. It is the essence of our mission as Christians. Archbishop Jatau was faithful at his duty post in the frontiers of fighting injustice and corruption in our society.

The duty and responsibility of government is the security and welfare of its citizens. The Priest is a watchman, one whose duty is to watch over the city and to raise his voice whenever he cites danger. He calls on those who lead to remain faithful to their duties. A society always frames its hopes, fears and dreams in Documents known as Constitutions and a Constitution will always remain the reference point for measuring the efficacy of a government. This is the challenge that the late Martin Luther King faced when he delivered his famous, I have a Dream Speech. Among other things, he said:

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note in so far as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds”. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Our duty is to reject the notion of corrupt governments all over Africa that somehow, the Lord has not provided for every society. He has and a nation like ours that is so richly blessed must not hold its citizens to ransom by pretending that there are hard times. We do not see a reflection of these hard times in the lifestyle of our public officers who daily call on the citizens to make sacrifices while they wallow in privilege. When they call for us to tighten our belts because there is recession, that oil prices have fallen, that there are problems with balance of payments and so on, the Priest at the duty post must say that there are sufficient funds, that we cannot accept bad cheques.

In his love for education, he guaranteed us a future. That we whom the country calls minorities can stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone anywhere in the world, is a testament to dream. We cannot turn back on education because education is the mirror that helps us to know what we are worth. The alternative is the darkness which makes our unredeemed selves killers and haters. Embracing education is the tribute we owe him. If the North is to progress, the Governors must decide and return all our schools to us. It is the only guarantee that Mustapha and Christopher, Husseina and Faustina can play together, embrace one another in love and become citizens of a great country. So, tonight, I leave you with the words of Cardinal Ratzinger (as he was then) at the funeral of the late Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005, when he said: “We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.” Your Grace, like St. Stephen, the first martyr, may the gates of heaven stand erect till you have passed through. Amen.

Continue Reading

Opinion

THE NEW TYRANNY IS HERE: Warning Against the Forces that Silence Opposing Views

Published

on

By

Spread the love

THE NEW TYRANNY IS HERE:
Warning Against the Forces that Silence Opposing Views


By Frank Tietie

My faith in God has been renewed by some recent events. The sickness that got me close to crossing the River Styx only to return by God’s mercy, the elections in the United States and the death of a fellow comrade have all served to reawaken my personal search for “a deeper way than this”.

Ever since I got to really know, a few years ago, that God is love and that the human being is the centre of His love, nothing else in religion really mattered much to me. So I resolved to try and love every human being, irrespective of faith, religion, race, tribe and status. For me so far, as well expressed by Bon Jovi, “love is the only rule”. That the Lord Jesus Christ died as a sacrificial lamb for my natural sinfulness makes a lot of sense to me as an act of love.

I have discovered that there is a raging cosmic war over human minds between the enslaving powers that are driving the social media and modern communication technology on one hand and on the other hand, the original nature of man to always be at liberty and be free from the domination of other men and lower powers. The cosmic war that I seek to describe is known by many yet it appears imperceptible but its consequences are so palpably tangible for all to see.

Thus, I tend to agree that there is a small but powerful force using the media, particularly, the social media and application of modern communication technology to enslave the human race, making it less free and subjecting it to mind control for selfish and less than noble reasons. I have therefore been recently constrained to join the warning voices against this new tyranny which is not really new.

Democracy is not necessarily about majority but plurality. The practice of democracy from its Greek origins to its various modern concepts does not mean the tyranny of the majority to the extinction or extermination of the minority.

It is by allowing plural voices that groups that once held minority views (worldviews), untimately by social and political engagements gained enough ascendancy to rule as majority. They may as well, be replaced by another majority in the future which was once a minority. That’s an important aspect of democracy we must recognise.

There is a problem, a big problem when a group that was once a minority but allowed enough plurality by the society to emerge as a majority that now rules, to choose to eliminate plurality in order to dominate the social space and silence other voices.

In Nigeria, a group which used an unregulated social media space to wrest political power from an established party now wants to regulate social media. That group which is now in power is fixated with describing nearly every opposing view as either fake news or hate speech instead of painstakingly, constantly providing correct facts ahead of saboteurs and applying existing criminal laws to determining standards of deviant behaviours. Many Nigerians are familiar with this situation that I try to describe here.

Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, YouTube with other social media companies, radio and television networks- you know them, all, once allowed one time minority groups like Lesbians, Gay, Bi-sexuals, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) to raise their voices, loud enough to gain significant world following. They eventually gained ascendancy and proceeded to change the face of traditional humanity to where same sex marriages became accepted in Western Societies and in no distant time will affect the African society. People can now undergo physical sexual transformation from male to female and vice versa for clear reasons. Many more hitherto incomprehensible worldviews were made normal by these media networks. Yet these same networks, have recently chosen to ban others for having opposing views. Their latest victims are David Icke, Donald Trump, Josh Hawley and the Parler app.

It is tyrannical for these networks to vigorously push certain informational agenda while suppressing others. However deviant the views of Icke, Trump and Hawley have been, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter cannot ban them. If they didn’t ban the LGBTIQ guys at that time, then they can’t ban anyone now and in the future.

In disputational matters of law, the courts rule. In matters of opinions regarding facts, let individuals judge for themselves. That is the bedrock of liberty. It is tyrannically disruptive and a deprivation of the right to free speech for any news network to choose to suppress the views of groups and persons.

While Twitter has retraced its steps by unbanning Donald Trump, the signs are now clear that the real purveyors of fake news are the ones who suppress opinions. They are the new tyrants who want to control what we think by controlling the information we receive. Brace up!

Frank Tietie

Continue Reading

Trending