Article/Interview/Feature/Columnists/Opinion

Nigerians Are Disappointed, Angry Over 2019 Elections – Revd Kukah

… Condemns violence, killings at polls 
Convener of the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee (NPC) and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revd (Dr) Matthew Hassan Kukah, has said that going by the number of killings and violence recorded during the 2019 general elections, Nigerians are disappointed in the political system.

Sounding furious, Kukah said that there was no need to have wasted such lives or engaged in violence if the motive for elective offices was simply just to serve.

Kukah who spoke with Sunday Sun on the side-line of the First Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria in Abuja, however, said that only time can engender the type of democracy that Nigerians yearn for.

“Why do people really want to get into government? If it were just to serve, you don’t need to kill anybody or there doesn’t have to be violence. But the most important thing is that all these are just evidences of the quality and calibre of men and women that we have to deal with in the name of politics,” he said.

As the convener of the National Peace Committee, even though you extracted a commitment from the parties, are you happy with what is happening across the states where the election has been characterised by violence and killing of people?

No sane Nigerian will be happy with what has happened and what continues to happen. The most important thing for us to understand is that those who have put themselves up for election; it is a measure of whether they are fit for public office; when you assess how people are conducting themselves. And all these things suggest that there was ulterior motive. Why do people really want to get into government? If it were just to serve, you don’t need to kill anybody or there doesn’t have to be violence. But the most important thing is that all these are just evidences of the quality and calibre of men and women that we have to deal with in the name of politics. It shows their lack of maturity, it shows their lack of polish, their lack of finesse and their lack of understanding of the ingredients of politics.

So, you are disappointed in the system?

Every Nigerian, every sane human being should be disappointed with the number of lives we have wasted in this country.

The presidential election and Atiku Abubakar’s decision to go to court: How do you see this action?

I cannot say anything different from what the Peace Committee has said. Nobody has told Atiku not to go to court. He is doing something that he is convinced about and he should be encouraged to do so. Even when we had audience with the president, the president is not against it. So, I don’t think that is an issue. He is free to pursue what he needs to pursue to satisfy himself that he genuinely or legitimately lost the election.

But did your committee make effort to persuade him not to go to court?

No, because that was never on the table for discussion.

But his decision to go to court is viewed as a departure from what we witnessed in 2015 whereby former President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat without any fuss by calling President Buhari. How do you see this development?

For me, I don’t think that is the issue. You are dealing with different personalities and different situations. It is not for me to judge; it is for Nigerians to judge and I don’t think you need to make anybody feel that they should feel guilty for deciding not to call the president or for deciding not to make a call to concede. After all, you have seen all the gubernatorial elections going on. What Jonathan did was spectacular and Jonathan is Jonathan. It doesn’t mean that every election will necessarily be concluded in that way.

Looking back, will you say the effort of the Peace Committee yielded any fruit?

Ah, ah, I mean, the Peace Committee’s business was not to stop killings and violence. Perhaps, you might ask, had the Peace Committee not done the little it did, maybe the situation would have been worse. I mean, you must situate these things differently. Okay? The killings that have taken place, they are not directly related to the work of the Peace Committee. And I think, as I said, the committee has done its work, has done its best and the rest is for Nigerians to judge.

Some have also flayed the international observers that the reports they presented did not reflect the actual state of affairs. Is it true?

I don’t know. I am not in a position to comment on that.

Nigeria’s democracy: Are we on the right path, looking at the military interference?

In what sense?

In some states across the country, there have been allegations of military interference…

Every process must throw up new challenges. Democracy is about improving on those challenges, improving on the best way to save lives, the best way to make sure that the process wins public confidence. So, we must consider this as ingredient necessary for the building of a viable democracy. If you talk, are we on the right path? Well, we are on the right path, yes. But elections were not meant to be exercises, opportunity to kill people.

What can engender the type of democracy that Nigerians yearn for?

Time, time, time!

 ! Interview Extracted from Sunday SUN

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