Cardinal Okojie To Buhari: “Enough Of This Change Mantra!”


Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, the Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, reacting to the State of the Nation, has attacked President Muhammadu Buhari saying his All Progressives’ Congress (APC) led administration’s ‘change’ mantra is causing misery and not the much needed social relief Nigerians anticipated.

In a statement released by the Director of Social Communications of the Lagos Archdiocese, Monsignor Gabriel Osu, Cardinal Okogie cautioned the president against waging a shoddy corruption war, rather;

“He must retool, refocus and aggressively face the social, economic (fiscal and monetary) problems we have head on, without letting the anti-corruption drive look like a political distraction.”

Okojie described President Buhari’s style of governance as;

“A snail paced and disordered methodology in governance, his apparent disdain for judicial authority and decisions, a lost today found tomorrow, 2016 budget debacle, and a rather rudderless and confused Central Bank with an unclear monetary policy strategy (inevitably increasing the economic uncertainties being faced by Nigerians), have set alarm bells ringing in my mind and in the minds of many discerning Nigerians”.

“Indeed, his perceived discordant relationship with the leadership of the Legislature has many naysayers chuckling and remarking that President Buhari’s government is heading rather naturally, into his comfort zone – a one man show.”

The Cardinal feared that majority of Nigerians now believe that Buhari has fast transformed the country into an autocratic state “where Mr. President, the EFCC and DSS rule the day.”

“What they say is given lurid headlines in the media, and it seems to all that some of the defendants/accused persons are being tried in the press with information conveniently slipping into the hands of the press, presumably from the security agencies, even before such people have been charged to court.”

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He chided the president for disobeying court pronouncements regarding bail for accused persons like the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu and former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.

He said:

“The Pro-Biafran activist, Nnmadi Kanu and the erstwhile NSA Sambo Dasuki were granted bail by the courts but such bails were disregarded by the security agents under Buhari’s watch.

“Unfortunately, democracy is difficult and this government must realize that democracy pervasively colored with impunity, arbitrariness and high handedness, cannot be used to fight and correct the financial impunity and reckless abandon of the previous administration, even if it is more difficult to do so, the rule of law must be obeyed and be the order of the day.

“If Buhari wants to leave a creditable legacy come 2019 he should retool the bureaucracy. For instance, the roof of the Central Bank is leaking water. Governors, who arm-twisted Okonjo Iweala into signing out our reserves held by Central Bank, are today ministers in the APC government. We are still talking about change and corruption when old things refuse to pass away! These political gimmicks can only carry away gullible or naive Nigerians. President Buhari should beam his flash light on policies and programs that will lift up the Masses.

“Existing industries are almost dead and call for urgent revitalization. The budget ought to aid solutions to the mass unemployment, rural-urban migration, skewedness in the distribution of income, abject rural poverty and industrialization of rural economy. The 774 local government capitals should be linked to their state capitals. Even the mind boggling infrastructure deficits can take the entire tenure to address.

“The weakness in the bureaucracy has not been addressed. Consequently, the problem the APC government is trying to solve is bound to re-occur because it is treatment of effect rather than the cause. Causative factors are being totally ignored or glossed over. Institutional weakness pervades the MDAs, offices of the Accountant General, Auditor General and the Central Bank itself,” he said.

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He observed that leakages in the economy had remained unnoticed and unplugged over the last 16 years of uninterrupted democracy, “Our Change must change something.

“How could we continue to talk of change in a static system? How could we be talking of change when the same crew are governors, ministers, senators, and members of the House of Representatives? This is a cyclical devolution of power to the same people who are never out of power!

“What sort of change is the President talking about? When will the youth take over when even a governor does not take a bow and go? When shall we plan for the replacement of delinquent leadership? This is what constitutes change. Change is not changing from Jonathan to Buhari.

“Precisely two years ago this same President Buhari rejected off-hand this use of a spin doctor to heal the ailing economy. He pre­ferred the use of counter-trade and inward looking policies like cutting down costs and flamboyant exotic life styles.

“Today, I am not so sure we have the same Buhari. I do hope he has not changed all the colors of the rainbow. The ruling elites are living a luxurious lifestyle while the masses are in abject poverty and yet we are all Nigerians,” Okogie stressed.

For over four decades, Cardinal Okojie served as a Catholic priest. Ordained first as a priest on December 11, 1966, consecrated as a titular Bishop in August 1971, Archbishop in 1973 and made a Cardinal in October 2003 by Pope John Paul II, Anthony Olubunmi Okogie became the voice for the voiceless and for years took advantage of his leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as well as Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria to speak against the ills in government. He retired on 25 May 2012 at age 75.