In run-up to tense presidential vote, Nigerian bishop slams government corruption
"Despite the huge resources that the nation has received from the unprecedented sales in oil, there is hardly anything to show for it in the lives of ordinary citizens. ... The uncontrollable hemorrhaging of resources has led to the ubiquity of misery among the people."
NEW YORK—Strongly condemning
“the ugly tide of corruption” in Nigeria’s government, a Nigerian Catholic
bishop has highlighted the tough challenges awaiting the next administration in
the wake of the country’s presidential election that had been slated for Feb.
7., but were postponed until March 28, 2015.
With about 170 million inhabitants, Nigeria
has the biggest population of any country in Africa—and one just about equally
divided between Muslims (mostly in the north) and Christians in the south.
Presidential elections, that had been slated for Feb. 14, 2015 but have been
postponed until March 28, 2015, are pitting the incumbent, President Jonathan
Goodluck—a Christian—against Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim.
The two also faced off for the presidency in
2011, when, after Goodluck’s narrow victory, charges of vote rigging by Buhari
triggered Muslim attacks on Christian communities that left 800 dead. The
Buhari camp has denounced the postponement of the election, charging it is a
tactic used by the incumbent to avoid defeat
In a memorandum sent to international Catholic
charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto—in Nigeria’s
north-west, said the next Parliament must urgently confront a range of pressing
issues that he said are destabilizing the nation.
“Years of corruption have diminished the sense of
loyalty to the Nigerian state,” the bishop wrote, calling on the new president
“to rally citizens around the project of a national identity and national
The bishop charged that the wealth derived from Nigeria’s natural
resources are not benefitting the population at large but is being concentrated
in the hands of a few: “Despite the huge
resources that the nation has received from the unprecedented sales in oil,
there is hardly anything to show for it in the lives of ordinary citizens. … The
uncontrollable hemorrhaging of resources has led to the ubiquity of misery
among the people.” He called on the election’s winners to channel resources
into education, job creation and agricultural development.
Bishop Kukah also warned that continued raids by terrorist
Boko Haram had increased tensions between Nigeria’s Muslims and Christians. He
wrote that “the insurgency has depleted a lot of the good will among the
various ethnic groups and further deepened the fracture between Christians and
He also confirmed fears of a repeat of the violence that followed
the 2011 election:
“Sadly, the federal
government did almost nothing to redress these issues. No one was prosecuted
and except for a few, the federal government did not deal with the issues of
compensation for the majority of the citizens who lost property.”
The bishop wrote, however, that “Nigerians are approaching the
forthcoming elections with measured optimism, excitement but with a deep sense
of caution and even trepidation. We are also encouraged by the concerted
efforts towards ending the insurgency and we are glad to note the international
collaboration. Taken together, ordinary citizens are hopeful that we could
indeed have successful and peaceful elections.”
ACN photo: Bishop Kukah