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By News Express on 28/03/2014

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Leading cleric and political thinker Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah has called for change in the leadership recruitment process of Nigeria as well as for persons with ability to dream big dreams and envision a new country.

The former Secretary of the Oputa Panel on Reconciliation as well as the Constitutional Conference submitted that the country faces a severe challenge of leadership because of flawed recruitment.

Speaking on ‘After the insurgency: some thoughts on reconciliation in Nigeria’ as the Convocation Lecturer for the 43rd Convocation of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Kukah decried the current situation.

He stated: “Too many people from top to bottom are coming into public life with no preparation and no pedigree or evidence of exposure and success in any other form of endeavour beyond the patronage of politics. Too many people are therefore in office but not in power. With too many key actors with limited capacity, ability and exposure, we see that our public officers are soon weighed down by raw power, leading to manufacturing of election results, tinkering with the processes and wanting to stay in power far too long.”

Kukah said Nigeria needs dreams and dreamers “to avoid nightmares like Boko Haram.”

Dr. Kukah traced the roots of anti-Moslem violence in Northern Nigeria to the British conquest of the Sokoto Caliphate in 1903. Northern leaders then wrongly in his view equated the Colonial mission with Christianity, thus breeding suspicion, he said, adding that Boko Haram arose more recently from injustice due to failure of leadership at political and religious levels.

Kukah added: “What we call Boko Haram today is just a handing over the baton in a long relay race of injustice and incompetence in government. Yesterday Odua Peoples’ Congress burnt, killed, and ended up getting a President Obasanjo. Today, the Niger Delta think President Jonathan is a reward for their struggles. Why will Boko Haram not think that it is only violence that will give them a President or an Islamic State? We cannot go on this way and in our situation, perception is reality, tragic as it may be. What we sow is what we shall reap.”

Noting that Nigerians have a wholly negative view of every past leader, Kukah called for a more balanced view of Nigerian history and respect for facts.

“Nigerians like to think of their country and its past in such negative terms as if somehow, nothing has happened to us and no leader has done anything positive or worth celebrating or remembering. There is hardly a former Head of State that commands the required respect of Nigerians across the board. Our views about our former public officers are shaped by self-serving assessments, tainted by selfish, clannish, ethnic, regional or religious considerations. Thus, there can hardly be a common view about any single former Head of state or President that can command cross cutting respect and integrity,” Kukah stated.

He decried the strident criticism of the inclusion of former Head of State General Sani Abacha in the centenary honours list, saying that while “history is a highly contested terrain, we must develop the capacity of managing the good, the bad and the damn ugly. We can subject them to any interpretation but we cannot wipe them out of history.”

According to Kukah, “For whatever reason, had there been no Abacha, there perhaps would have been no President Goodluck Jonathan, no Governor Tinubu or my good friend, Kayode Fayemi, today. This is because there would have been no Ekiti, Nassarawa or Zamfara states. We can judge General Abacha over his theft of state resources, but try telling that to the people of Sierra Leone where he is revered.”

At the lecture chaired by former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Kukah cautioned against using the ongoing National Conference for the political ends of the leadership. He doubted the utility of the conference and the document it would produce against the backdrop of history and current practices by politicians.

Kukah asserted: “There is now a conference to fashion out a new Nigeria. We have had all this before and been on this road before. Will anything be different? Will the conference really and truly be insulated from the ambitions of those who have set it up? Even assuming for the sake of argument that we really and truly manage to have even a perfect document, what will that mean? We have not been faithful over little things and indeed, we have governed our country more by unconstitutional than constitutional means. We all know that there is no reverence for the document. All the stealing that is going on, all the high cost of governance, all the executive recklessness and individuals in public life treating public funds as if they are private, are any of these in the Constitution?”

In his address, UNN Vice Chancellor Prof. Bartho Okolo said the institution’s Convocation Lecture has grown in stature and relevance due to the calibre of speakers it attracts annually. He said that recent speakers have included former Vice President Africa of the World Bank Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, Lagos State Governor Raji Fashola (SAN), former Information Minister Prof Dora Akunyili and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The outgoing Vice Chancellor whose tenure ends in June said he was happy to have brought such distinguished speakers to UNN, adding that the success of the convocation lectures mirrors the success of University management under his leadership in infrastructure renewal, scholarship, and building a befitting university campus.

•Photo shows Bishop Kukah.

Source News Express

Posted 28/03/2014 6:58:32 PM


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