Olubunmi Okogie, archbishop emeritus of the Catholic archdiocese of Lagos, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the speech he delivered on assumption of office and “start afresh”.
Speaking after a reception organised for his 80th birthday, Okogie said the current administration has lived below expectations.
According to Vanguard, the fearless cleric who also marked the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination, said he would never get fed up of commenting on injustice and oppression of the downtrodden by those in positions of authority.
“President Buhari has to be very careful because people are watching him and people are saying why can’t he take his inaugural speech, meditate on it and start afresh,” he said.
“I think why the government is not getting it right is because of the ministerial list, various candidates from different quarters and he was trying to satisfy them and that is why we are in this mess today. Government should live up to their responsibilities to the masses. This present administration should revisit their inaugural speech and start afresh because they have not done anything at all. Government should live up to their responsibilities to the masses. This present administration should revisit their inaugural speech and start afresh because they have not done anything at all.
“Since I retired as Archbishop of Lagos, and by extension from active public service, you may still wonder why I still speak on the state of the nation when I should be enjoying my retirement. Well, it may interest you to note that though I may not be as visible as I used to be, I have however not relented in my commitment and desire to see to the entrenchment of a truly egalitarian society where justice, equity and fear of God would reign supreme.
“These have always been my desire. You may say that at my age, since I am near the departure wing to heaven, I should by now be indifferent to the numerous challenges confronting the country. I beg to disagree. How can I remain quiet when 17 years into our democratic dispensation, the ship of our nation is being tossed about by self-inflicted storms that are tossing the people up and down? How can I keep mute when Nigerians have continuously been taken for a ride over the years by our politicians, who rather than serve the masses, chose to play them like the game of chess? I want to affirm here that as long as the good Lord gives me strength and the breath of life, I will never remain silent while this country is in turmoil.
“I believe it is the responsibility of every one of us to continue to contribute our quota to a better society for us and the generations yet unborn. May 29, 2016, we marked Democracy Day under the ruling All Progressives Congress. But is there much to really celebrate about? 17 years into our democratic dispensation; have we really mature as a nation? What lessons have we learnt from the errors of the past and what efforts are we making to avoid a repeat?”
Okogie also condemned the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying the group has the legitimate right to make demands.
Recalling the events of the civil war, he advised the current administration not to allow the Biafra issue get out of control.
“Many of us who witnessed the pogrom that is the Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970 are yet to come to terms with the devastating effect that war could have in a society like ours,” he said.
“That is why it is imperative that we do not have a repeat of a civil war. God forbid. Mr President should therefore do the needful by releasing Mr. Nnamdi Kanu as a sign that he is ready to dialogue with his pro-Biafra group. He must remember that it is the right of any group to peacefully seek for secession if they feel marginalized in their present abode. The use of force is never the right approach to quell such agitation.
“As the father of all, let him do the needful by addressing the issues that led to the agitation in the first place. The problem with our government is that they fear unnecessarily. What has that boy (Kanu) done? Why can’t they sit back and think of how they can resolve the issue amicably and without involving soldiers here and there?”
He also criticised Ejike Mbaka, spiritual director of the Adoration Ministry Enugu (AMEN), over the statements credited to him during his transfer from a parish he spent at least 20 years.
“As a priest I was shocked when I heard that from his mouth. Nobody will take your life if God did not sanction it,” he said.
“That he was wanted dead, who told him that? Were assassins sent after him or he was only imagining it or he saw it in a vision as he always says he always sees visions? These are highly contestable and as a priest what will he say about death? Why must he fear about death? And that he was not happy about the transfer, why is he a priest? A priest should be ready to go anywhere.
“I was in the war front two years after my ordination as a priest. If he was not happy about his transfer, then there is something wrong about his priesthood. His priesthood should come to question.”
Okogie revealed some personal encounters he had with Lai Mohammed, minister of information, and Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos state.
“Lai Mohammed challenged me on a write up that I wrote tagged ‘Enough is enough’. He came to my house one Sunday night with Chief Jim Nwobodo and said I should have asked for audience with the Head of State and he would have granted me such instead of writing such article,” he said.
“I asked him to tell me what was wrong with the article that I wrote and that if not for Alhaji Bola Tinubu, he will not be where he is now. He replied that he has been together with Tinubu right from his youthful days.
“I know how Buhari came in. I warned Tinubu seriously when they were debating about Muslim, Muslim ticket. I told him, `Bola, I do not care if you produce two devils or Muslims provided the two Muslims are patriotic and fear God’. He said his main concern which was giving him sleepless night was to drive the PDP away and that he had got the solution. Tinubu asked me if I knew Buhari and I replied that was he not that man that did examination three times and failed? I said `Bola, he will fail again’ but he replied that he will not fail because he had gone round and that politics is a game of numbers. He said if Buhari was dying tomorrow and he went to the North to present him as candidate, he was sure to get over two million votes. He was even boasting that Buhari had changed or that they will change him.”
On Buhari’s failure to mention the names of alleged treasury looters, he said: “Buhari thinks he is diplomatic but he is not. Nigeria of 1916 is not Nigeria of 2016. They are dragging the people gradually to the wall and once they get there, there will be revolution. What kind of revolution? I cannot say but it will be bad if the revolution is from the youths. He should call a spade a spade, he passed the issue to Lai Muhammed and everybody is now calling them liars.”