The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese Matthew Kukah yesterday criticised the Federal Government’s handling of security, saying it had broken the country.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari had yet to realise that he could determine how the country could “end the war that has engulfed and is tearing down our nation.”
The Bishop, in an Easter message to his congregation in Sokoto, likened Nigeria to an emergency hospital with full occupancy.
He said: “The challenge of fixing this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts. With everything broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy.
“Our hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, Mosques, and infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken.
“Our children’s lives and futures are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our Roads and Rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well.”
He urged Nigerians to “start thinking of a Nigeria beyond banditry and kidnapping and the endless circles of violence that have engulfed our communities and nation.”
The bishop advised the Federal Government to enforce Nigeria’s secular status as a way to stamp out what he identified as religion-fuelled insecurity.
Prescribing a way out, Kukah said: “The President must concede that it is within his powers to decide how we are going to end the war that has engulfed and is tearing down our nation.”
He, however, accused the government of prioritising the integration of repentant terrorists over freeing kidnap victims.
The Bishop said: “It seems that the federal government has shown far greater commitment to integrating so-called repentant terrorists than getting our children back from kidnappers or keeping our universities open.
“Earlier last month, Operation Safe Corridor announced that it had graduated 599 members of various terrorist groups who have acquired new skills and are now ready to be integrated into society. The total comes to over a thousand now.
“It is plausible to note that the programme involves psycho-social support, rehabilitation, vocational training, skill acquisition and start-ups.
“Despite all this, the larger issue is that their various communities have expressed their reluctance to receive their erring sons back.
“Nigerians have no access to the transcripts of the texts of the confessions of these terrorists not to talk of evidence of their commitment to not sin again.”
“We have only the words of the terrorists and the same military that they have been fighting a war with.
“It speaks volumes when the President and his military hierarchy choose to believe these young men who took up arms and for years waged war against their country, killed, maimed and wasted thousands of lives, destroyed entire communities and now, they are being housed, fed, clothed with public funds.
“All this while their victims have been forced to make the various IDP camps their new homes! Where is the justice for the victims and the rest of the country they have destroyed?”
Looking forward to next year’s general elections, Kukah reasoned that competence is more important than ethnicity, religion or region in choosing Buhari’s successor.
He said: “2023 beckons and the stage is set. The challenge is whether we have learnt any lessons from the tragedy that has afflicted us in the last few years. The Presidency of Nigeria is not a human right based on ethnic, religious or regional sentiments.
“The next President of Nigeria must be a man or woman with a heart…We need someone who can fix our broken nation, and rid our people of the looming dangers of hunger and destitution.
“Our Presidential aspirants must show evidence from their legacies and antecedents that they know the country well enough and its severe wounds.
“Whoever wants to govern us must illustrate that he or she understands what has turned our nation into a national hospital and show us plans for our discharge from this horror.
He thanked the President for accepting the report of the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy and granting pardon to over 150 Nigerians serving various terms of imprisonment, adding that many Nigerians believe the military can end kidnapping and banditry.