Paulinus Aidogie, Abuja
Eminent cleric and emeritus Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, has faulted claim by the Federal Government that it had “technically defeated” Boko Haram, describing it as one of the biggest lies ever told by any government in the history of Nigeria.
In a piece titled Walls have ears,” Okogie said the era government monopolise the flow of information had gone.
“For that reason, government must be honest and patient in relating with the citizens,” he said.
“Boko Haram”, he said, “has not been defeated. It is, in fact, waxing stronger. Any government spokesman, presidential media assistant or service chief, who says that Boko Haram has been defeated, will be answerable to God for every life that Boko Haram has destroyed.
“Nigerians have the right and duty to interrogate government on the level of insecurity in this country. But instead of honest responses, they are insulted by Presidential spokespersons who combine insolence and mendacity. How many innocent Nigerians will be killed before our government and its functionaries admit that Nigeria is not winning the war against terrorism?
Incontrovertible evidence abounds that government is simply incapable of protecting the land and the people. As the year 2019 was coming to an end, a faction of Boko Haram under the banner of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), intensified its terrorist acts.
He said with with heightening insecurity, Nigerians have a right to question the competence of the service chiefs, who he claimed were yet to demonstrate they have solutions to the menace of Boko Haram.
“Nigeria is at war. But can it be said that she is showing signs of winning the war? If indeed Nigeria is a democracy, then Nigerians have an inalienable right to ask government questions. This right is not limited by party affiliation. It is not limited to those whom government perceives as admirers. Even those who are rightly or wrongly perceived as opponents of government have a democratic right to interrogate government.
“A democracy is not led by a monarch who is above and beyond questions. It would, therefore, be a great disservice to the government and people of Nigeria for government spokespersons to heap gratuitous insults on those who demand accountability of government. As government spokespersons, they are officials who are paid by the people. Of course, there is the mistaken assumption that Nigeria’s money is ‘government money.’ But there is need to interrogate this assumption too. Nigeria’s money belongs to Nigerians, not to government. Such a mistaken assumption encourages mismanagement of Nigeria’s wealth. It also makes government officials ignore the fact that the people they insult by their insensitive and unguarded utterances are the same people who pay their salaries.”
The Cardinal accused the president’s spokespersons of lying on the true state of affairs in the country.
“The presidential media men tell Nigerians that the President is in control. But President Buhari has himself expressed shock and disbelief at the level of insecurity in the land. He expressed shock at the killing of Pastor Andimi. If, in the past, he said he did not know that the Inspector General of Police did not relocate to Benue State, as he had commanded, and if he now expresses shock at the level of insecurity, can it be sincerely said that he is in control of the security situation? Are those working with him telling him the truth about Nigeria?
“While this country is burning, presidential spokespersons, allergic to dissenting voices, deceive Nigerians by peddling the myth of an omnipotent and omniscient President. The most potent dangers to our hard-earned democracy are the President’s men. It is disheartening that while the government they represent has failed in matters of security they tell lies and insult us. They are neither helping him nor helping Nigeria.”