From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The immediate past Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr Anthony Sani has picked holes in Bishop Matthew Kukah’s Christmas message.
The former ACF scribe claimed that the message was not backed up with facts, and, therefore, was capable of inciting violence across the country.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, Sani said that Bishop Kukah should have tabulated his facts and figures before accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism and other allegations.
The ACF chieftain who is a pharmacist by profession spoke also on COVID-19 pandemic, warning Nigerians not to toy with the safety mechanism put in place by the Federal Government.
He also spoke on other national issues. Excerpts:
Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah was verbally attacked recently by some Nigerians over his Christmas message which he used to tell truth to power. How will you react to this?
There is no harm in criticism of government policies and programmes as they affect the public.This is because constructive criticisms put governments on their toes for improved performance. And for criticisms to make desired results come to pass,they must be based on facts and truths, and that is why I see the attacks of Bishop Kukah’s Christmas messages; instead of helping to make hope strategic for all Nigerians,the messages tended to promote cleavages of the nation along ethnic and religious lines that stoke violence and conflicts in the polity.More so that his allegations of nepotism against the regime were not supported by fact checks.
Northern elders even said that Bishop Kukah should have dragged President Buhari to court instead of making such public outburst over state of the nation. What do you have to say here?
There is no harm in speaking truth to power based on sciences and facts. All Bishop Kukah needed to do is to do his fact checks of distribution of appointments made by President Buhari by ethnicity, religion and by state, and make them public for realistic appreciation ,since he is saying the regime is nepotistic does not make it so.The bishop can, therefore, help Nigerians in no small measures in not only in the areas of appointments, but also in the list of distribution of projects and major contracts by ethnic groups, religious groups and by state. This is because projects and major contracts are also access to national resources. For example, it is not possible for many people of conscience to believe his insinuation that the current regime has a hand in the killings by Boko Haram.This is because most of the victims are Muslims.
We are in 2021, and the Federal Government is saying Nigerians should sit up about COVID-19 because the second wave is threatening. More over, Nigerians are told to get prepared for its vaccination. Unfortunately, most Nigerians are doubting the existence of the virus and the genuine nature of the vaccination. As a pharmacist,what is your advice?
Given the soaring speed of COVID-19 spread across the globe and not only in Nigeria due to the emergence of a new variant of Coronavirus reputed for faster transmission, it makes sense for the federal and state governments to be prepared and urge Nigerians to get ready for the war against the spread of the COVID-19.This is a way of mitigating the disease that is capable of inflicting untold hardship by way of deaths and effects on livelihoods. The question of Nigerians doubting the existence of the virus is neither here nor there, considering the number of high profile Nigerians who have fallen victims and died from complications of COVID-19. Nigerians do not need a tsunami to tell them that COVID-19 is real and dangerous.
In the same way, I would say Nigerians are not expected to doubt the vaccine.This is because the Coronavirus is a pandemic and the search for vaccine has been global in full glare of everybody in the world.The ICT which has made it possible to overcome time and distance is enough for Nigerians to use and know what happens in the world. If Nigerians would doubt the existence of COVID-19 and the efforts to get vaccine for it, they can as well doubt existence of air and water. We better take the challenges posed by COVID-19 seriously and practice the restriction measures in order to break the chains of transmission. One way of achieving this is to make the wearing of face masks in crowds compulsory for everybody.I am happy that President Buhari is leading the way by wearing the face masks.Let all the governors and traditional rulers follow suit and dare the rest of us to follow.
As soon as we entered 2021, we heard of prophecies by different clerics, some said that President Muhammadu Buhari may vacate office before 2023. Others said thst prominent Nigerians would die this year. How scared are you about this prophecies which some people termed as prophecy of doom?
I am not fetish as to believe the so-called prophecies that contribute in our lack of critical thinking on how best to confront challenges arising from mechanism of community living. Most of the prophecies are not more than intelligent guesses in the mould of clairvoyance. And that is why some of the prophecies do not come unto their own. Prophecies should not come onto their own in percentages, but in full. I am, therefore, not scared of any prophecies that disdain sciences and facts. I believe our abiding faith in supernatural resources contribute in no small measures in our search for riches without hard work. All the ritual killings for money are fueled by such beliefs. We better develop critical minds approaches to overcoming our national challenges.
In 2015 presidential race, Buhari’s candidature caught fire in the North, so to say. There was this slogan in Hausa language (Sai mai Gaskiya). Meaning the only truthful one is Buhari. Do you think this scenario will play out in 2023 with a northern candidate again?
How can you ask such a question, considering the former VP Atiku who is a Fulani Muslim from the North contested against President Buhari in 2019 and people asked such question that was answered by the outcome of the elections in 2019? Before the elections of 2019, I advised political pundits and psephologists to do some trend analysis of performance of the regime for purpose of assessing progress against campaign promises, since pass mark is never a single number, but a range of numbers. People did not want to listen. And the results came with President Buhari giving former VP Atiku an edge of 3.9 million votes as against 3 million votes he gave incumbent President Jonathan in 2015. So better use trend analysis in your analysis for informed judgment during elections.That is part of the work by the media people who are expected to enlighten and educate the rest of Nigerians so they can make judicious use of their democratic rights and ensure votes counts so that the ensuing leaders would be accountable.
There was Ohanaeze election recently where Igbo elected a socio-cultural leader of their choice. What is your advice to the Igbo nation, even as they are lobbying to produce Nigeria president in 2023?
I congratulate the Ohanaeze for conducting successful elections and transfer of barton to new leaders. I pray God would provide them with what it takes for successful, purposeful leadership that will make some difference in the socio-economic life of their people. I also pray they would design their winning game plans in a multi-party democracy and persuade other sections of the country to buy into the policies and programmes of their presidential candidate.This is because politics is not an individual enterprise, but a collective mission. And as they navigate the labyrinth of politics, it is important to know that victory and defeat are never final.
Would you say Nigerians will see a marvelous parley between ACF, Afenifere and Ohanaeze for a common interest towards a united Nigeria in 2023?
All these socio-cultural and religious groups have positive roles to play in socio-economic development of the country.This is because their overlapping interests and countervailing forces have their own way of reinforcing the unity of the nation.
Nigeria was rated by IMF as having the best GDP in Africa and 26th globally.What do you say, considering the outcry of economic hardship across all strata of Nigerians?
The pandemic COVID-19 has brought lot of challenges in socio-economic development not only in Nigeria, but also across the world. As a result, every country struggles to overcome such challenges. Nigeria has its own share of the challenges which the regime struggles to overcome amid paucity of funds and insecurity. If despite such challenges and constraints, Nigeria is rated as the best in Africa and 26th country in the world, even if we expect it to do more, then it means the regime is trying. Nigerians should, therefore, come together and unleash their synergistic potential against collective challenges. This is because the good things of life defined by order, justice, liberty, common decency and prosperity for all are never natural order of things, but natural concomitant of hard work by both the leadership and the led. No socio-economic development can take place without the support of the citizens.