Ahead of the country’s 2023 Presidential Election which is less than two years away, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, has said Nigerians should be careful who they vote if they did learnt bitter lessons from the previous ones.
He warned that just like in the past where president Muhammadu Buhari was marketed as Mr integrity, a unified, and the messiah that would save the country from the 16 years of horrors under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), same tactics would be employed by same politicians ahead of the next election.
Kukah who made the statement in Abuja at an event organised by The Kukah Centre and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), also berated the Buhari government for kiIIing the dreams of many Nigerians through the use of force and policies that only seem to worsen the conditions of the people.
Speaking on the 2023 elections which he said would afford Nigerians another opportunity “to think of the mistake made” in the past, he said, “Democracy is not an exercise undertaken by good men and women, which is what Nigerians have always fallen victim to – that we are looking for holy men, men of integrity, men of dignity to govern us and we assume that managing a diverse Nigeria does not require some level of deep intellectual reflection and understanding on the complexity in managing a society so energetic.
“In 1998, I tried to write an article on civil society out of curiosity, that article turned into a book ‘Democracy and Civil Society in Nigeria,’ and a lot of people commended the book – it is no longer in circulation. One of the things I concluded was that democracy and dictatorship cannot co-exist; one has to cancel out the other.”
He criticized the Buhari government whom he said has been “using the agents of state, to close the (civic) space.”
“Democracy is a work in progress; all of us engaged in democracy and opening up the civic space must realise that it is a long journey.
“This is a dangerous path we are treading. Our young people are feeling disempowered. We are faced with a nation that is consuming its own children; we are faced with the prospects of an uncertain future. It is impossible, even the worst enemy of Nigeria, would never have contemplated that this is where we will be,” he added.
Kukah has previously compared Nigeria to a “ship stranded on the high seas”, and described the troubles of trying to make Nigeria work, to the “agony of Sisyphus who angered the gods and had to endure the frustration of rolling a stone up the mountain.”
He said, “Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids.”
“Today, our years of hypocrisy, duplicity, fabricated integrity, false piety, empty morality, fraud and Pharisaism have caught up with us.
“Nigeria is on the crossroads and its future hangs precariously in a balance. It is at a point where we must call for a verdict. There must be something that a man, nay, a nation should be ready to die for. Sadly, or even tragically, today, Nigeria, does not possess that set of goals or values for which any sane citizen is prepared to die for.”
“We have practiced madness for too long. Our attempt to build a nation has become like the agony of Sisyphus who angered the gods and had to endure the frustration of rolling a stone up the mountain.
“Each time he got near the top, the gods would tip the stone back and he would go back to start all over again. What has befallen our nation? Nigeria needs to pause for a moment and think,” he added.