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KILLINGS: NIGERIA RUNNING OUT OF TIME - BISHOP KUKAH

By NBF News
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The Catholic bishop of Sokoto Diocese, His Lordship Matthew Hassan Kukah, has said that Nigeria is at a very difficult stage and running out of time because of the current security happenings in the nation.

Speaking in Abuja  at the National Summit on the Freedom of Information Act , with the theme  'Ensuring the Effective Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act', which started in Abuja yesterday, Bishop Kukah said those who are pushing  the country to the precipice are determined  to start a war that will be irreversible – a war between Christians and Muslims.

The cleric said he was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Nigeria was running out of time because of what is happening. According to him, it may be convenient for many of us to say it does not matter if  northerners kill themselves  because the battle is only taking place in the north, but 'many of us who have been voices of restraint no longer know what to say. This country is ours to build and  construct, and how we are going to reclaim our lost glory and  make Nigeria marketable again requires more than just moral exhortation'.

He also said  that Nigerians could have seen a time like this coming as it was manifested many years ago when people who had no commitment to Islam began pretending about wanting to live under the Sharia'h law. Quoting from Lamido's timeline, he said, 'Are we Christians to stop worshipping or am I going to live in a country where every Sunday when I am going to church I have to look behind. Or the Christian question is: how long is this going to go on and, like Lamido said, is it going to cost the bombing of the mosques before we wake up? Is it really the case that we are going to continue to remain like this?'

Bishop Kukah lamented that, even though the country is passing through very tough times  with enough blame to pass around, President Jonathan may not be responsible for what is happening, but  because he has been entrusted with the key  he is worried  about the future of the country.

He said, 'I have been on the voice of those saying this is not about religion and I still believe so,  but many of us are running out of time and ideas because, clearly, the security of this country is in the hands of the president who is under a national security agency and, actually, life is becoming very cheap'.

He called on media houses to adopt high-quality reportage and editorials on current happenings and available information so that policy makers can adopt reports or editorials to become part and parcel of public policies. Media houses, he added, should be responsible for the training of journalists and must go beyond just allowing journalists to fend for themselves.

Meanwhile, country representative of  PACT , Dr. Audu Liman, in his welcome remarks, said Nigeria as a country had passed the FoI in May 2011 after years of advocacy  and demand but not much has happened in  one year after the signing at all levels of government.

He said even after setting up inter-ministerial committees at all levels, the work of the committee  remains very opaque  as there appears to be no consultations with interest groups in developing such strategy and also not taking public institutions at the states and local governments into account.

Liman said: 'The FoI Act is one important bill that, when effectively implemented, will take our country over the threshold we currently stand. Despite various challenges, there are a number of issues that should make us proud as Nigerians.'

According to him, Nigerians  as a people can make this country great if and only if they can do the right things, but while there are many things that can be done in order of priority, 'our biggest challenge is corruption'.

Paper presentations were made by the attorney-general of the federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN); MD/CEO, Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, Mr. Ehi E. Okoyomon; governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, among others.

A member of the House of Representatives Abike Dabiri in a brief remark said: 'We have given you this law, it is left for everyone of us to ensure its implementation. The fact is that the power is in the hands of Nigerians. We have to join hands to fight corruption and make things work and not leave it in the hands of a few. If we do not implement it, we are only paying lip service to fighting corruption.'