A former Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Lagos, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to renounce the presidential seat following what he described as the President’s failurefor to secure the lives and property of Nigerians.
Specifically, he accused the President of failing to stop killings perpetrated by Fulani militant herdsmen.
In an open letter to Buhari, entitled, “Dear Mr. President, Call a Spade a Spade,” a copy of which was sent to Saturday PUNCH, Okogie said, “Dear Mr. President, we must call a spade a spade. You were elected to protect the land and its people but neither is being protected under your watch.
“You therefore have the most important decision of your career to make. And that decision is this: Are you for Nigerians or not?”
The cleric pointed out that the number of killings so far recorded under the Buhari-led administration showed that the government had failed on security.
He said, “The number (of Nigerians) killed under your watch, Mr. President, provides more than convincing evidence that the government you lead has failed to secure our lives. You are the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“If more than three years into your administration, you have been unable to stop these killings, why don’t you seriously consider the option of an honourable renunciation of the presidential seat?
“One of the major factors behind the patent failure of your government is the fact that you are surrounded by men and women who fail to tell you the truth about Nigeria and who shield you from seeing what is happening to the ordinary Nigerians.
“Instead of assisting you in the governance of this country, they insult those whose dissenting opinions you need if you are to succeed.
“How does one explain the fact that under your watch as the Commander-in-Chief, agencies established to maintain law and order, instead of protecting innocent citizens of this country, dissipate their energy running after members of opposing parties? Do you call that democracy?
“No right-thinking person would advocate letting anyone off who has committed a crime. No one is above the law, not even you, Mr. President. That is why the Constitution provides for a process of removing the President.
“That is why the point must also be made that those who contravene the laws of Nigeria be brought to book, irrespective of their political, regional, ethnic or religious affiliation. But the sad reality is: under your watch, that is not what is happening.”
The former President of the CAN faulted the Federal Government for failing to arrest and prosecute leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, who had on several occasions allegedly claimed responsibility for the various attacks on communities.
He said, “A member of the Miyetti Allah appeared on television, justifying as retaliatory the killings in Plateau State. He was not the first member of the Miyetti Allah to make the statement.
“Nigerians are baffled that he has yet to be arrested. Where were those responsible for our security at a time they were needed most?
“Dear President Buhari, I am compelled to write to you again because, since the bloodshed of the first day of this year, there has been more bloodshed in Zamfara State and in the Middle Belt.
“The latest killings in Plateau State make us wonder: where were you, Mr. President, while innocent lives were being wasted in Plateau State? Where were your service chiefs when babies were being ripped out of their mothers’ wombs by men who claim to do so because of their cows?
“While all this happened during the national convention of your party, it would be unfair to insinuate that the latest round of killings had anything to do with your party.
“However, it was scandalous that at about the time innocent Nigerians were being slaughtered like cows in Plateau State last weekend, some members of your party were dancing and feasting at your party’s convention in Abuja, while some were throwing chairs at each other, and some others were exchanging blows.
“That, in itself, points to the absence of democracy in your party, as is the case in virtually all the political parties in Nigeria.”
Okogie also blamed the President for treating the herdsmen with kid gloves, saying, “You described what is going on as a clash between herdsmen and farmers. If the identities of these criminals are not hidden, why has the Nigerian intelligence community, under your watch, failed to prevent them from shedding blood?”