FG POLICIES: OKOGIE CAUTIONS BUHARI AGAINST DESPOTISM
Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari over the policies of his government saying in the last seven months of his steadwardship is gradually gravitating the nation towards a dictatorship.
In a strongly worded statement titled: “Enough is enough”, Okogie said that after watching President Buhari’s government intently for the past seven months to ensure that this government does not fail the Nigerian people; a people who have already been badly bruised by previous administrations, President Buhari administration appears to be gradually gravitating the nation towards a dictatorship.
According to him, the current anti-corruption war is, to say the least, “shoddy and cloudy”, arguing that Buhari would have done this nation and her citizens a world of good if he started his house-cleaning exercise from the known to the unknown, from what is sure to what is controversial, noting that “a lot of our people are beginning to feel that Buhari is fast transforming this nation into a police state where Mr. President, the EFCC and DSS rule the day.”
The statement reads: “What is clear is the fact that there seems to be sincerity of purpose in the intendment of President Buhari. However, a snail paced and disordered methodology in governance, his apparent disdain for judicial authority and decisions, a lost today found tomorrow 2016 budget debacle, and a rather rudderless and confused Central Bank 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 rather naturally, into his comfort zone—a one man show!
“In principle, what we should have is real democracy! But whilst I realise that democracy is a very difficult form of government, especially when it comes to the process of the rule of law viz–a-viz the anti-corruption strategy of the administration, it is important that the President not only abide by the rule of law, but should be seen by all to do so! Anything short of this will lead to a free fall into civilian despotism!
“Furthermore, part of the anti-corruption exercise going on is shoddy and cloudy to say the least, and akin to what people say is, the more you look, the less you see! This fact can be adduced from the dearth of accountability, organization and methods evidenced in shoddy or unknown recovery procedures. Loots recovered (as we have been made to believe that monies are being returned to government coffers) are not meticulously accounted for to the public to take stock of what has been recovered.
“Furthermore, one would have expected Buhari to start his house-cleaning exercise from the known to the unknown, from what is sure to what is controversial. It is on record that Ibrahim Lamorde the immediate past EFCC boss, may be putting on a filthy garment to the tune of N1.6 trillion. Nigerians want to know whether this Lamorde’s largess (if proven) was also shared out to our political lords or what form it took, as the information would equip the entire country as we move ahead to radically purge corruption from our system.
“Replacing Lamorde with Magu (who worked with him) smacks of ware-housing old wine in a new skin because Nigerians still perceive the stench of corruption from the Lamordian dispensation. But, we must give Magu the benefit of doubt and pray that he succeeds.
“Mr. President must realise that sweeping corruption under the carpet does not make for good house cleaning and creates problems for future governments. In the name of positive change, Buhari must not leave us with unfinished business as regards the setting up of an anti-corruption framework for the country come 2019, as his election was on the back of his anti-corruption and security message to the people!
“Unfortunately, President Buhari’s change is termed political by some as it seems that what it takes a thief to become a free man is to migrate from the PDP to the APC! A lot of our people are beginning to feel that Buhari is fast transforming this nation into a police state where Mr. President, the EFCC and DSS rule the day.
“What they say is given lurid headlines in the media, and it seems to all that some of the defendants/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.
“As stated above it would seem that the judiciary has also been emasculated. 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 high handedness, 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 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 flash light on policies and programmes that will lift up the Masses.
“Existing industries are almost dead and call for urgent revitalization. The budget ought to aid solutions to the mass unemployment, Rural-Urban migration, skewedness in the distribution of income, abject rural poverty and industrialization of rural economy. The 774 local government capitals should be linked to their state capitals.
“Even the mind boggling infrastructure deficits can take the entire tenure to address. The weakness in the bureaucracy has not been addressed. Consequently, the problem the APC government is trying to solve is bound to re-occur because it is treatment of effect rather than the cause.
“Causative factors are being totally ignored or glossed-over. Institutional weakness pervades the MDAs, offices of the Accountant General, Auditor General and the Central Bank itself.
“Consequently, leakages in the economy have remained unnoticed and unplugged over the last 16 years of uninterrupted democracy. 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. 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 un-equal 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 legislatures, judges, ministers and governors when they are heavily paid? Why don’t they use loan finance and 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 IMF spin-doctor all the time.
“Precisely two years ago this same President Buhari rejected off hand this use of spin-doctor to heal the ailing economy. He preferred the use of counter trade and inward looking policies like cutting down cost 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 life while the masses are in abject poverty and yet we are all Nigerians. Enough of this change-conundrum. He must retool, refocus, and aggressively lead by example on all fronts and face the social, economic (fiscal and monetary) problems we have head on, without letting the anti-corruption drive look like a political distraction,” Okogie insisted.
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