The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah, on Sunday appraised the eight months administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and concluded that Nigerians were yet to see his promised change in the country.
He, therefore, advised the President to inspire Nigerians into engaging in economic activities that would help revive the economy of the country that is at the verge of collapse.
Kukah, who gave the advice yesterday in Umuahia, Abia State while delivering a valedictory lecture in honour of the out-going Vice-Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Professor Hilary Edeoga, challenged Buhari to learn from great world leaders who saw opportunities in the challenges of their countries.
He said great leaders excelled because they were able to transform challenges into opportunities, saying: “This is one of the finest moments for us to transform our nation.”
Speaking further, he said: “One of our problems in Nigeria is that we lack the imagination, the charisma and the capacity to rouse a crowd. From 1960 till date, have you seen any Nigerian President’s speech you feel like going back to read?
The cleric said people abused him when he predicted that Buhari might not perform magic, saying that the inability of the President to fix Nigeria’s wobbling economy eight months after assumption of office has justified his predictions.
“When I said what I said, people were abusing me. I didn’t have any need to defend myself in the sense that I know this country a little bit well enough. Suddenly, in less than three months, the same people who were accusing me called me and said, ‘Bishop what did you see at that time that we didn’t see’?
“Now all those who were pretending that they were so fanatical about Buhari, I am the one now telling them to hold on and be patient that the man will gradually get there.”
He faulted Buhari’s approach on the war against corruption without corresponding efforts to grow the economy, saying the President is on his own.
“All these talk about fighting corruption, Nigerians are now convinced that Buhari is on his own. But the truth of the matter still remains that all of us believe that we cannot continue this way. The question is who is going to pay what price?”
He, however, said “It is not only the responsibility of government to fix the economic maladies of the nation but the collective duty of the intellectual class”, adding, “The redemption of this country does not lie in the hands of politicians.”
He also criticised Buhari’s administration over its claims that it had defeated Boko Haram when it was evident that the war against insurgency is yet to be over.
“I hear government say, “Technically, we have defeated Boko Haram; we have also degraded them. The vocabulary is changing but one fact is that beyond the shifting of the goal post, there is a moral issue.
“Government is focusing on reconstruction as if one day, they will open the window and find that Boko Haram is gone. They are thinking of reconstruction in economic terms, but it is all about understanding the dynamics of the societies that have gone through what Nigeria is going through.
“The end of Boko Haram is the beginning of another war by another means. It may not be a shooting-war. “
Kukah advised Nigerian to learn from the Igbo boys on how they survived after the civil war.
He also challenged Buhari to emulate President Roosevelt of America who prepared Americans solders comings back from the war to become productive and in the process rejigged the crumbling American economy after the Second World War.
Kukah said, “Nigerians are just looking for opportunity to do what God has ordained them to do and many able- bodied Nigerians have the capacity and ability to do just that. We need a government that does not turn work into an instrument of terrorism. “