Insecurity, Nepotism: Rights activists slam FG, Lai Mohammed

*Buhari institutionalising nepotism — Chidoka

*BMO counters, says Kukah’s sermon filled with hate

By Williams Orji 

As issues of insecurity and gross nepotism continue to dodgethe President Muhammadu Buhari led All Progressives Congress (APC) government,the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Human Rights WritersAssociation of Nigeria (HURIWA) among many other non-governmental organisationsand civil rights groups at the weekend, dug to square up to the President andthe Federal Government over issues of pervading insecurity and alleged acts ofgross nepotism.

While SERAP charged President Buhariand the 36 State governors to disclose exactly how much they proposed assecurity votes in the 2021 Budget, HURIWA scoffed at the Minister ofInformation and Culture, Lai Mohammed, for saying that some religious leaderslike Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, are working to unseat President Buhari.

SERAP wants the President and Governors to explain toNigerians measures they were putting in place to ensure that the proposed money(security vote) is not embezzled.

This demand was contained in the Freedom of Information(FoI) requests dated 26 December, 2020 made by the organisation and signed byits Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

According to the request, the chief executives “shoulddisclose details of proposed ‘security votes’ spending in your 2021appropriation bills to ensure the security and welfare of Nigerians, and toexplain the measures your governments are putting in place to prevent themisuse and embezzlement of public funds in the name of security votes.

“In the wake of the abduction of over 300 students from theGovernment Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, and ongoingsecurity challenges in several parts of the country, the time has come todemonstrate transparency and accountability in the spending of public fundsmeant to secure people’s lives and property.

“Disclosing details of spending as security votes for 2021would serve to engage the Nigerian people in an honest conversation about thesecurity challenges confronting the country, and what the federal and stategovernments are doing to respond to them. This is a legitimate public interestmatter.”

On its part, HURIWA accused the Minister of Information andCulture, Lai Mohammed of using propaganda to demonize the Catholic Bishop ofSokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, over his latest article.

The prominent cleric had in his Christmas homily lamentedthat the level of nepotism being practised by Buhari is so caustic that if anon-northern Muslim did it, it could have led to war or a change of government.

Kukah, who said that “every honest Nigerian knows thatthere’s no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction ofwhat President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it”, alsowarned thatalthough Christians would not fight back, “God does not sleep”.

This had attracted the ire of Mohammed and Buharisupporters, who have accused Kukah of trying to incite a coup against Buhari’sgovernment.

The Minister has charged that “while religiousleaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not comewrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony.” 

But HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, andthe group’s National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, countered thatit was baffling that the Minister could misinterpret Kukah’s homily to mean hewants Buhari ousted.

The rights group insisted that Kukah was right in pointingout that Buhari-led government was characterized by nepotism.

According to HURIWA, “President Muhammadu Buhari hasconsistently and continuously unleashed a divisive and scorched-earth apartheidpolicies of divide and rule, nepotism and religious cum ethnic chauvinism andbigotry in all his appointments especially to top internal securityarchitectures, including the recent promotions in the Nigerian Police Force inwhich the North got the significant percentage of all the promoted top seniorpolice officers even when the Igbo-speaking South East of Nigeria was allottedjust one top position.

“The entire internal security architectures are dominated bypersons from one section of the country – Hausa/Fulani Moslem North, to theexclusion of all others, which offends the relevant sections of theConstitution that speak to the issue of federal character Principle as providedfor in the Constitution and also offends Section 42(1) which speaks to theissue of discrimination on the bases of tribe, religion or politicalaffiliations.

“Rather than read the message in the essay and reflectdeeply on ways the current administration will amend its ways and stop theviolent defecation on the sanctity of the Constitution of the Federal Republicof Nigeria of 1999 as amended, Lai Mohammed chose half baked propaganda andextreme innuendos to seek to demonize the respected cleric, who is one of thefew lovers of Constitutional democracy and modern day Nigeria that should workto uplift the welfare and protect the sanctity of the fundamental human rightsand most especially the RIGHT TO LIFE as espoused in Chapter 4 of theConstitution and most particularly in Section 33(1).”

Former Minister of Aviation and a chieftain of the Peoples DemocraticParty (PDP), Osita Chidoka, joined the fray by endorsing the comments of BishopKukah as well as Buhari’s alleged insensitivity in addressing the problems andconcerns of the majority of citizens.

While condemning the criticisms against the Catholic clericfrom officials of the Federal Government, Chidoka insisted that the presentadministration should hearken to seasoned voices of wisdom on issues affectingthe country instead of using hirelings to attack people like Kukah.

In a statement he issued on Sunday, Chidoka said: “BishopKukah is a Man of God. I have known him since 1997. He was the Priest whoprayed on the day I assumed office as Corps Marshal. He has visited us at Obosi(in Anambra State) and recommended me to a program at Harvard School of Governmentin 2005. I respect him.

“His warnings to the nation is prescient and in thetradition of prophets of old. Using paid jobbers and e-rats to attack him onsocial media is a sign of the times.

“All is not well with our country. Men of goodwill shouldspeak out and those in power should listen and make amends. May the Lord imbuehim with strength and lead him alright”.

Nonetheless, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) expresseddisappointment at Kukah’s submissions, describing his comments as unfounded andungodly.

The group in a statement signed by its Chairman, NiyiAkinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, accused the cleric of repeatedlyusing the pulpit to sow division and discord in the country.

According to BMO, “these comments are false,unreasonable and evil. They are anti-Nigeria and have no place in the kind ofconversations Nigerians deserve to hear at a time that all are longing forpeace and love.

“Time after time, the President Buhari administration hasresponded with clear facts, numbers and statistics on this allegation ofnepotism, showing that in fact, the South-West has the most appointees in thegovernment, while the South has more appointees than the North.

“Yet, no one has produced evidence to the contrary.

“Bishop Matthew Kukah has fallen far below the mark expectedof godly leaders, again”

“He has used the pulpit where the messages of peace, of joy,of solidarity, of unity and love should be heard to rather preach messages ofdiscord, disunity, anarchy, fear and worse, to tell blatant lies against thePresident.”

The group further stated that it was ironic that BishopKukah is a member of Nigeria’s National Peace Committee; but “hispartisanship and hate for President Buhari has put him in a position ofblindness where he can no longer work for or achieve peace.”

BMO concluded by stating its confidence in Nigeria’s ArmedForces not to be moved or take any notice of the sermon delivered by BishopKukah.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces under President Buhari are notthugs and will not do anything against the Constitution of Nigeria. They arewell-trained and are in tune with the President’s agenda for the nation: totackle insecurity, to fight corruption and to rejuvenate and build a resilienteconomy for the country”, it added.

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