Following the recent call by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, on President Muhammadu Buhari, to resign over rising insecurity in the country, more Nigerians over the weekend said his administrative  performance is below average and not fit to continue running the affairs of the country.

The group, in a statement issued last Tuesday decried the spate of insecurity in the country, describing it as worrisome, and urged the president to resign from office. Its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, noted that: “The administration of President Buhari does not appear to have answers to the challenges of security to which we are exposed. We cannot continue to live and die under the dictates of killers, kidnappers, rapists and sundry criminal groups that have deprived us of our rights to live in peace and security.

“Our Constitution has provisions for leaders to voluntarily step down if they are challenged by personal reasons or they prove incapable of leading.

“It is now time for President Buhari to seriously consider that option, since his leadership has proved spectacularly incapable of providing security for Nigerians. Our Forum is aware of the weight of this advice, and it is also aware that we cannot continue to live under these conditions until 2023 when President Buhari’s term ends”, the group said.

“In terms of corruption, the kind of corruption we are experiencing in this country has never been experienced since the history of this country; this is the worst of it.

They fail in both angles. I’m bothered because it involves security which is one of the main primary responsibilities of every responsible government. But today, the reverse is the case”.

He also expressed worries that Buhari has yet to probe the humongous amount that has been spent in tackling the raging insecurity without commensurate results.

Also speaking in the same vein, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, yesterday said Nigerians are more divided and insecure under this government than at any time in the nation’s history.

Fr. Kukah

He warned that the nation might be slipping into anarchy unless genuine and urgent actions to halt the ever increasing degree of insecurity are taken.

Bishop Kukah made this remark at the Homily Family Cathedral, Sokoto, in his Easter message to Nigerians, titled, “To Mend A Broken Nation: The Easter Metaphor”

Emphatically, “Nigerians can no longer recognise their country which has been battered and buffeted by men and women from the dark womb of time”. 

He regretted that those at the helm of the nation’s affairs appear to have lost steam, even as insecurity escalates.

“It is no longer necessary to ask how we got here. The real challenge is how to find the slippery rungs on the ladder of ascent so we can climb out”, he said. 

Continuing, the clergyman said, “One would be tempted to ask, what is there to say about our tragic situation today that has not been said? Who is there to speak that has not spoken”.

Drawing reference from the Biblical friends of Job, Kukah added, “We stare at an imponderable tragedy as the nation unravels from all sides. The government has slid into hibernation mode. It is hard to notice the problem because those in power do not hear, see, feel, know, or just don’t care. 

“Either way, from this crossroad, we must make a choice, to go forward, turn left or right or return home. None of these choices are easy, yet, guided by the light of the risen Christ, we can reclaim our country from its impending slide to anarchy”. 

For Kukah, a leader must know when to call Caesar a fox and not a horse; hence, “The welfare of citizens constitutes the cornerstone for measuring the legitimacy of any political leader. As such, religious leaders must focus more on the issues of welfare, safety and security of ordinary citizens. They must raise their voice when these rights are being trampled upon”. 

In his admonition to Nigerians in why they should collectively think of how to rebuild the country to its lost glory, Bishop Kukah said, “The greatest challenge now is how to begin a process of reconstructing our nation hoping that we can hang on and survive the 2023 elections. 

“The real challenge before us now is to look beyond politics and face the challenge of forming character and faith in our country. Here, leaders of religion, Christianity and Islam, need to truthfully face the role of religion in the survival of our country. The Nigerian Constitution has very clearly delineated the fine boundaries between religion and politics. Yet many politicians continue to behave as if they are presiding over both the political and the spiritual realms in their states rather than governing in a Democracy”. 

Wondering how sharply divided the country has become in recent years, Kukah said, “The greatest challenge for Nigeria is not even the 2023 elections. It is the prospect for the reconciliation of our people. Here, the Buhari administration sadly has divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history. 

“This carefully choreographed agenda has made Nigerians vulnerable and ignited the most divisive form of identity consciousness among our people. Years of friendships, cultural exchange, and collaboration built over time have now come under serious pressure from stereotyping. Notwithstanding these challenges, religious leaders must recover and deploy their moral authority and avoid falling victim to the schemes of politicians and their material enticements”.

Talking on the role of interfaith dialogue, Bishop Kukah said it is sad that in Nigeria, many ill-equipped fraudsters are posing as religious leaders..

“Today, the values of Interfaith dialogue have come under severe strain and pressure with extremists from both sides of our faiths denigrating the idea of dialogue with their counterparts of other faiths. Ignorance and miseducation have combined with prejudice to create the falsehood that somehow, one religion is superior to the others. 

“With so many ill-equipped fraudsters posing as religious leaders, there is an obsession with defaming others and widening our differences. 

“Religious leaders must face the reality that here in Nigeria and elsewhere around the world, millions of people are leaving Christianity and Islam. While we are busy building walls of division with the blocks of prejudice, our members are becoming atheists but we prefer to pretend that we do not see this. We cannot pretend not to hear the footsteps of our faithful who are marching away into atheism and secularism. No threats can stop this, but dialogue can open our hearts. 

“Thank God, in the last few years, we have had some good news from outside the shores of Nigeria. The most noteworthy is the initiative undertaken by both Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, Egypt, Shaikh Mohammed Al-Tayeb in 2019, when both of them met and signed the Document on Human Fraternity. Pope Francis followed up with the publication of an Encyclical titled, Fratelli Tutti, We are all Brothers, in 2020. The following year, the United Nations General Assembly declared February 4, World Day of Fraternity. 

“Both leaders agreed that, “We need to develop the awareness that nowadays, we are either all saved together or no one is saved. Poverty, decadence, and suffering in one part of the earth are a silent breeding ground for problems that will end up affecting our entire planet.

“We need to start thinking of a Nigeria beyond banditry and kidnapping and the endless circles of violence that have engulfed our communities and nation. We cannot continue to pretend that there are no religious undertones to the violence in the name of God that has given our religions a bad name. The way out is for the state to enforce the secular status of the Nigerian state so as to give citizens the necessary freedoms from the shackles of semi-feudal confusion over the status of religion and the state in a plural Democracy. We must be ready to embrace modernity and work out how to preserve our religions and cultures without turning religion into a tool for tyranny, exclusion, and oppression.

Meanwhile, speaking exclusively weekend with AljazirahNigeria on the state of the nation, activist and president of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, Shettima Yerima, said the present state of the nation is a sad one, stressing that Nigeria has never had it this bad.

He noted that the present administration has failed to deliver on its three-point agenda of security, improvement of the economy and anti-corruption war, upon which it was voted into power in 2015.

He disclosed: “I am worried because the slogan for the government of today is addressing insecurity, corruption and revamping the economy.

These are the three cardinal points for this government. But in terms of economy, the government is neither here nor there. There is nothing to write home about. In terms of security, it’s even the worst time since the history of Nigeria”. 

Irked by the statement made by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, a socio-political group, Northern Youth Network, NYN, and others rose in defence of the Buhari administration.  In a statement signed by its convener Mallam Abdulrahman Ahmed, also last week, punctured the position of the elders describing it as mischievous, unpatriotic and aimed at weakening the morale of gallant soldiers on the battlefield.

Also reacting at the wake of the call for Buhari’s resignation, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement posted on his Facebook page took a swipe at NEF saying the group is a gathering of angry and self seeking individuals that have made unsuccessful attempts to serve under his boss.

He said, “The Forum is largely made of angry, bitter, self-seeking individuals, who had thought they would be leading President Buhari by the nose when he emerged in 2015. In fact, key personalities in the group made strenuous efforts to be part of the administration. When they didn’t succeed, they became adversaries.

“It is on record that NEF had always opposed the Buhari administration since its gambit failed, and before the 2019 presidential election, it openly endorsed Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as next President. And that completely vitiates whatever position the Forum adopts today. It is partisan, bilious, and by no means neutral. It is from a self-serving standpoint”.

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