Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese has advocated for a new political horizon in Nigeria, infused with intellectualism, to return the country on the right track of true democratic process as obtained in other successful democracies of the world, like the United States of America. He therefore challenged the stakeholders of the academic sector to rise up and help ameliorate the anomalies of the past, before the time is too late.
Bishop Kukah made the call in his presentation titled: Nigeria: What time is It? As the Guest Lecturer at the Odumegwu Ojukwu University 10th Anniversary Convocation Lecture, held at the main Campus of the University at Igbariam, Anambra State.
The guest lecturer told the university community: “It is time to rescue our nation from the hands of predators;” adding: “We the educated class must renew our commitment to the value of education and rise up quickly before we are devoured by the darkness that hovers over us in the name of toxic politics by too many charlatans. We must restore honour and dignity to elitism in its proper sense and see the intellectual elite as dreamers and visioners, bearers of a promise and a dream to rescue us from this nightmare and darkness”.
According to the local ordinary of Sokoto Diocese, democracy and feudalism cannot co-exist and this has been one of the causes of failed democratic process in Nigeria. His words: “There is no need for us to continue to hide under one finger by pretending that democracy can coexist with semi-feudal, semi-autocratic or theocratic claims. Democracy has its own rhythm and logic which lies in the principles that all of us are created equal and the duty of the state is to provide an opportunity for all of us have aright to the pursuit of happiness.”
The guest lecturer gave a vivid analysis of the historical perspective of the democratic process in Nigeria, from the time of the acclaimed founding political fathers of the country to the present day outlining how the country’s political leaders have failed to use time judiciously, and make Nigeria a successful democracy.
Bishop Kukah outlined the challenges that mitigated against a successful democratic process in the country to include: the sowing of the seeds of division in the political arrangement by the British colonial masters which gave room for disparity among the political leaders of the regions of North, East and West; the lack of common vision among the accredited political leaders – Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the West and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of the East.
He also noted the differences between the feudal system background of Sir Ahmadu Bello in contrast to the exposure of Chief Awolowo and Dr. Azikiwe to secular democracy; pointing out that these are not complimentary to facilitate a true democratic process, under their leadership. He aptly summed the situation up thus: “The inability of these fathers to synchronize their clocks and agree on what time it was has haunted us and accounts for our seeming immobility”
The local ordinary of Sokoto Diocese did a strong comparative analysis of the American democratic process and the Nigerian system, giving reasons why the American practice has been a great success, since the time of its founding fathers till today; while the Nigerian process has continually faltered from one government to the other; and still remains a fledgling democracy, after 60 years of sovereignty.
Proffering solution for the unfortunate situation, Bishop Kukah called on the academia to rise to the occasion and liberate the country from further democratic process fumbling, noting that nothing tangible can be achieved without injecting intellectualism into the political system and governance.
While stating that every attempt at reviewing the Nigerian Constitution has been “an ambush against the wishes of the people by a rampaging political elite who often turned the platform into a theatre for unsavoury political gymnastics; Bishop Kukah declared: “… the United States of America, with all its imperfections, has demonstrated to us that the resilience of any nation, its capacity to meet the needs of its people, cannot be undertaken outside a set of ideals, principles and vision of a future anchored on Constitutionalism and shared values.”
Bishop Kukah in his proffered solution stressed that: “Anyone who wishes to govern us must be fully stripped of any gowns of hypocrisy, tartuffery, simulation or patriotism ….; and the credentials of any claimants to leadership must be forensically analysed. Another condition given by the Bishop was that: “anyone seeking to govern us must demonstrate a strength of both character and deep intellectual capacity to wrestle with the problems of Nigerian and the world.” He added: “This country can no longer remain a laboratory for experiments or merely trial and error”.
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