Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, on Tuesday, said Nigeria is yet to recover from the infection of the military rule which lasted for over three decades in Nigeria.
He expressed worry that some individuals who claimed to be repentant democrats, who are opportuned to occupy political offices in the current democratic system, are still acting with the mindset of military coup plotters, and that that could been seen in their utterances and official engagements.
The Cardinal made the observation at a press conference in Abuja, to herald week-long activities to mark his 75th birthday, where he said he is unhappy that Nigeria has continued to take two steps forward and five steps backward, in spite of huge abundance of human and natural resources.
He said: “Nigeria has been beating around the bush, as far as democracy is concerned. Thirty years of military rule was about dictatorship and outright order. Nigerians tolerated it for so long that it assumed a normal situation. I hope that by now, Nigerians must have realised that it was a wrong way to go. But, it’s obvious that we have not recovered from the infection of the military rule. Regrettably, many of the actors in the current democratic systems are still acting with the mind set of military coup plotters. They talk with military tone. They see election like a do-or-die affair. They use the word ‘capturing power,’ which is a wrong statement in a democratic system.
“It’s evident that progress will continue to elude us until we retrace our steps and do the right thing. Former President (Goodluck) Jonathan set a good precedent when he willingly conceded defeat in the 2015 presidential election. That was because, African leaders rarely concede defeat in any election. I expect losers in the forthcoming elections to concede defeat, but, from all indications, otherwise might be the case.”
He challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to consolidate on the success of previous elections, with a charge on the security agencies and other stakeholders to be apolitical in their approach to the elections. He added the world has beamed its searchlight on Nigeria, and they would use the forthcoming elections to assess Nigeria’s readiness for democracy.