Nigeria’s leadership failure: Kukah urges preferences for intellectualism

The failure of Nigeria’s leadership over the years have been attributed to the successive hijack of political power by ‘individuals whose identities defy history, nomenclature, and political science logic’.

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah made the allusion while delivering a lecture titled “Nigeria: What time is it?” at the 10th Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Convocation held at the Igbariam Campus.

The Bishop faulted the British colonialists who he noted, sowed the seeds of division in the country’s political arrangements, noting that independence was given clearly as a set-up, burying in its womb, the seeds of conflicts which represent the inevitability of instability.

“Tragically, till date, attempted handshakes across the Niger, have exacerbated these fears. The men known as Nigeria’s founding fathers had no common vision of a country because their views were the views designed and manipulated by the colonial government. The inability of these fathers to synchronize their clocks and agree on what time it was, has haunted us and accounts for our seeming immobility”.

“It has led us to an internecine war and back. It has led us to several Constitutional Conferences with no final Constitution. Constitution-making in Nigeria has continued to be a cat and mouse game, pitching the conservative statist interests of those in power with the wishes of the ordinary citizens.  This legal puppetry would gradually suffer diminished legitimacy as the process deteriorated to the abyss and became a tool in the hands of despots seeking illegal processes of breaking the rules of the dame.

Thus, between 1914, 1922, 1946, 1951, 1954, 1960, 1963, 1979 and 1999, we have been trying to agree on a Constitution that will meet our vision and dreams. Despite all these initiatives, we remain inundated with the threatening clouds of fear, anxiety, suspicion, self-doubt, self-abnegation, lassitude, ennui, exhaustion and despair,” he observed.

 Bishop Kukah said it is time to rescue Nigeria from the hands of predators, as according to him, the battle the country face is against those who have rejected education.

“After just 60 years of independence, we have produced a total of a hotchpotch of 15 individuals whose identities defy all known logic. Their designations or titles are a nightmare for political scientists and historians. So, how or where do you start to count those who have led this country? This is not to talk of the hemorrhage of Governors across the country,” he regretted

 Bishop Kukah added, “We the educated class must renew our commitment to the value of education and rise up quickly before we are devoured by the darkness that hovers over us in the name of toxic politics by too many charlatans. We must restore honour and dignity to elitism in its proper sense and see the intellectual elite as dreamers and visioners, bearers of a promise and a dream to rescue us from this nightmare and darkness.

“The University must claim back its preeminence. Elitism has a superior moral force than the shallow waters of ethnicity and religion. Only the elites can dream of a country, create the structures and institutions that can espouse the values of our common humanity.

 According to the Sokoto Diocese Prelate, Northern Nigeria, the epicenter of illiteracy in Nigeria, is today a cauldron that has spilled over the acid of violence across the nation and if the educated elites do not win the war, then the ideology of Boko Haram will bury Nigeria’s future.

 “The credentials of any claimants to leadership must be forensically analyzed. We can no longer continue to make educational qualifications issues of court processes. Anyone wishing to govern us must establish his or her credentials as one committed to the fine principles of democracy such as freedom, the secularity of the state, transparency and a demonstrable understanding of the complex nature of the fears, anxieties, and hopes of the people that make up this great country.

“We should no longer accept any leader arriving in a parachute wrapped in Teflon but hiding supremacist claims based on religious, regional irredentism. Every aspirant to a high office must be measured not by the size of his or her material resources, but the content of their intellect. They must show us what they have accomplished and be compulsorily subjected to rigorous public debates as one of the pre-conditions. Anyone seeking to govern us must demonstrate the strength of both character and deep intellectual capacity to wrestle with the problems of Nigeria and the world. The Nigerian elite must set that pace and tone,” Kukah emphasized.

He further interrogated why can Anambra with its rich human capital, especially in the diaspora, cannot think more clearly about how to harness their wide knowledge towards the reconstruction of a new world order, especially given the new opportunities of knowledge with no boundaries now.

“Nigeria has a total of 172 Universities (45 Federal, 48 State and 79, Private). Over 90% of the Private Universities are in Southern Nigeria. So, clearly, a choice has been made in favour of western education as a modernizing tool. So, how can the owners of these institutions be overrun by a ragtag army of those who say they reject western education?”

 He continued, “Anambra is the home of Cardinal Arinze. It is the home of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, It is the home of Chinua Achebe. It is the home of hundreds, thousands of illustrious sons and daughters who have made every end of the globe their home. Even if we used it as a metaphor, clearly, the Igbos can and must do more than they have done for Nigeria. This is not about the politics of the Presidency, but it is about how to exploit the huge bank of knowledge that exists here and elsewhere.”

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