“Admit that you have failed” — Cardinal Okogie tells President Buhari

Former Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Lagos, Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie, has asked President Buhari to admit he has failed Nigerians. In a statement released today February 20th, Okogie said Nigerians are no longer happy with this administration.

The truth is: Nigerians are not happy; Nigerians are hungry and angry. They are not happy because their lives and their belongings are not safe. They work so hard while the value of the money they earn cannot make them enjoy basic things of life. Nigerians are unhappy because the economy has been so mismanaged that some cannot pay the school fees of their children. Nigerians are unhappy because they have not got jobs. Nigerians are unhappy because, instead of hope, they are offered propaganda and insults by the president’s men. Nigerians are angry because their loved ones are butchered by herdsmen while the response of government is woeful. The issue at hand is more serious than getting re-elected. It cannot be resolved by way of a facile intra-party reconciliation. Before it can succeed, this government must admit it has failed. Before it can retrace its steps, this government must admit that it has strayed from the path of keeping the promises it made, promises that made Nigerians to vote as they did in 2015. Apart from seeking intra-party reconciliation, this government must first reconcile with Nigerians by treating them with respect.”

Going historical, Okogie said the late football commentator, Ernest Okonkwo, was fond of using an Igbo proverb while giving a minute-by-minute description of football matches on the radio.

“Anytime there was an infringement that escaped the attention of the referee, he would ask his colleagues, Sebastian Ofurum or Tolu Fatoyinbo, if they too saw the infringement. If they confirmed what he saw, he would say in Igbo, ‘What two persons have seen and confirmed to be a boa must not be mistaken for a piece of diamond. One may apply that maxim to the situation in our country right now. There is anger in the land. Many voices are echoing it. These voices of anger are so deafening that it can no longer be denied. The level of discontent in Nigeria at this point in time is like the proverbial boa sighted by even more than two persons. It would be unwise to mistake it for a piece of diamond. It has been sighted by retired Generals Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, who have spoken of the anger in the land in clear and unmistaken terms. It has been sighted by traditional rulers, who have called the attention of government to it. It has been sighted by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria when the bishops went to the corridors of power to speak to power in the way Biblical prophets directly confronted kings in Israel. This can no longer be treated as the cry of wailers. Even leading members of the party ruling at the centre have demonstrated commendable candour by openly acknowledging that the hopes of 2015 have been shattered by the disappointment of 2019.”

The clergyman criticised President Buhari’s aides for always attacking anyone who speaks out against the government

By their own reckoning, anyone who raises doubts as to the rightness of government policies, actions and statements is an enemy of government. He or she is ridiculed as speaking because there is no more access to ill-gotten wealth. A police officer, appointed to his office, demonstrated unspeakable insolence on television, calling an elected state governor a ‘drowning man.’ In other climes, he would lose his job. In Nigeria, he keeps it.”

He blasted the Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello, for his comment about Catholics and Tithe paying christians. Few weeks ago, the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria paid a visit to President Buhari where they told him that he is losing goodwill amongst Nigerians. Bello in replying the Bishops, said those who are angry with President Buhari are looters who no longer have money to pay tithes in church.

Replying the governor, Cardinal Okogie said;

“The bishops did the same thing a few days ago, calling the attention of the president to the anger and disappointment in the land. At the end of their friendly exchange with the president, some of his aides and friends resorted to name calling and gratuitous accusations. Anyone who has a faint idea of how the Catholic Church is run would know that the Catholic Church does not run on tithes. It has never taught that God’s blessings depend on tithes. No Catholic bishop in this country has a private jet. Not even the Pope has one. But an uninformed state governor, notorious for being insolent, described the bishop’s intervention as the wailing of religious leaders who no longer have access to tithes because of this government’s anti-corruption fight. True friends tell each other the truth. There cannot be sincere friendship where there is no truth. Those who are telling our president the truth are his true friends. Those who are shielding him from the truth, while insulting those who tell him the truth, are his real enemies. By insulting well-meaning Nigerians who happen to disagree with policies of government, they are not winning friends for the president. They are in fact helping to grow the rank and file of the angry. Whoever loves this President would want him to succeed. Whoever wants him to succeed must tell him the truth. For if he fails, Nigeria fails.”

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