2019: When Catholic Bishops Joined Buhari’s Critics

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President Buhari

For President Muhammadu Buhari, these may not be the best of times for him, especially when he has been facing a barrage of criticisms from Nigerians, most of whom he enjoyed their goodwill prior to 2015.

Surprisingly, his major critics has been his former colleagues in the military, the likes of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida.

Recently, clerics under the auspices of Catholic Bishops of Nigeria joined the train of advisers, having taken time off their religious schedules to assess the government in the past two and half years.

The clergies, who came to pay the President a courtesy visit on Thursday, told newsmen that they braced up courage to visit the President so as to point out areas of shortcomings of his administration, particularly to bring to his notice what ordinary Nigerians thought about his style of leadership.

Leader of the delegation and Archbishop of Jos Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama, started by pointing out to the President that he was fast loosing the goodwill and credibility on which he rode to power in 2015.

According to Kaigama, poverty, hunger, insecurity, violence among others social vices were at the root of factors, fast depleting the goodwill initially enjoyed by the government.

Although it was a closed door meeting, held inside the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Kaigama reeled out these complaints on behalf of Nigerians in the full glare of the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige as well as Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh.

According to the religious leaders, there is a general feeling of hopelessness across the country, with youths exhibiting restive tendencies while many others are hooked on hard drugs, cultism and other forms of violent crimes.

He went on to describe the entire country as being in a state of nervousness, a development he noted should worry the President and indeed all other political leaders in the country, rather than seeking re-election in 2019.

Before the clergies braced up courage to confront the President with these stark realities, ex-president Obasanjo had stirred up the controversy, when he brought to the consciousness of Nigerians a 13-page statement, chronicling Buhari’s successes and failures in office.

While taking Buhari to the cleaners, he had also advised him(the President) not to seek a comeback in 2019 citing obvious reasons.

In the statement he entitled ‘The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement’, Obasanjo ridiculed the Buhari administration accusing it of running a nepotic court bordering on clannishness at the detriment of national interest.

He attributed Buhari’s weakness to a lack of understanding of the economy and foreign affairs.

Not done with his castigation, he said the Nigerian President shows a poor understanding of internal politics and dynamics and engages in passing buck.

He said Buhari must not over-push his luck or over-tax the patience and endurance of Nigerians by seeking re-election in 2019, saying it’s time for the president to honourably consider a deserved rest.

According to the Ogun State born politician, the lice of poor performance in government which is evident in poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed, lack of progress and hope for the future, widening inequality, amongst others, are very much with Nigeria today.

He also observed that leaving the affairs of government in the hands of unelected kith and kin can only be deleterious to good government and to the nation.

The Presidency, which had been warming up to kick start campaigns for 2019, was suddenly thrown off balance, before Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed took up the gunlet to respond accordingly.

Lai, in his defence accused Obasanjo of exhibiting ‘ignorance’ in the face of Buhari’s numerous achievements since he came into power.

Ironically, while the controversies were yet to die down, Buhari and Obasanjo met face-to-face at the just concluded 30th Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and re-ignited their love, leaving majority of Nigerians wondering if both generals were truly friends or foes.

At present Babangida and the Nigerian police authorities are having a running battle over similar correspondence passed through Kassim Afegbua, in which he advised the President to leave the political stage for the younger generation.

IBB had before a counter statement released, told Buhari that the kind of leader Nigeria requires in 2019 and beyond was a new breed of leadership with the capacity to manage the country’s diversity and to jump-start the country on a different path.

According to the former military President, the ‘Change’ agenda did not serve the purpose for which it was instituted.

“In the fullness of our present realities,” the statement reads, “we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29th, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.”

The general maintained that the call on Buhari to quit the stage in 2019 and allow fresh ideas had become necessary because according to him:

“When the ruling party campaigned with the change mantra, he thought they would device new methods, provoke new initiatives and proffer new ways to addressing some of our developmental problems”.

All things being equal, many pundits may have come to the conclusion that with all these complaints, laced with advise for the President against 2019, Buhari may probably be at a cross road, regarding his ambition come next year, it only behooves Nigerians to watch how the political pendulum will swing in the days ahead.