Wednesday, 28 December 2011 00:00 By Onajomo Orere (Lagos), Eric Meya (Sokoto), and Isa Abdulsalami (Jos) News - National
THE Federal Government’s plan to remove subsidy from petroleum products is still hard sell to Nigerians. Even its promise to appoint credible Nigerians to manage the funds accruing from the stoppage of the scheme is not accepted without reservations. Among eminent Nigerians, whose views count on national issues that have raised doubts over the ability and readiness of the government to do the right thing with the accruing funds is the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese (comprising Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto states), Matthew Hassan Kukah.
Kukah told journalists at his Sokoto residence on Tuesday’s evening that while the removal of oil subsidy could “make political and economic sense, it lacked moral sense.” The fiery cleric released the dart, when he said he does not believe that the money from the removal of subsidy would not be stolen just like the proceeds from the excess crude oil. He said although the President has assured that credible people would be appointed to manage the money, “credibility no longer has meaning in Nigeria because many supposedly credible people are at the helm of affairs in many government institutions such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Education Trust Fund (ETF), and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) which are not making any headway.” Kukah lamented that the nation is “infested with bandits” with people going into government only to feather their nest, adding that the issue of fuel subsidy was not new but faulted the way it was presented to the public first as “removal of fuel subsidy and later as deregulation.” According to him, there are doubts if the removal of subsidy would yield the desired results unless “the cabal that has been benefiting has vanished into hell.” The bishop observed that Nigeria has always been faced with challenges and that everything wrong with the country now could be traced to corruption. To him, corruption like poison has crept into every facet of national life including the church and the media. Describing the situation as very worrisome, he said even crooks have made spiritual arrangement for themselves by building churches and mosques. He disagreed that the bombings, killings and other crises in the country were being orchestrated by those who predicted that Nigeria would break up in 2015. Kukah said he does not subscribe to the conspiracy theory because 90 per cent of those commenting on the American report have not read it. The cleric said it does not require any prophet of doom to know that any nation or anyone, who continues on a wrong road, cannot get to the real destination. He said governance in Nigeria is being carried out through native doctors, powerful pastors and sorcerers, which have replaced the science of think-tank. He urged Nigeria to pay attention to some level of intellectual contributions otherwise the country would continue to “treat leprosy with paracetamol.” On the Christmas Day explosions in Abuja and other states, Kukah he was tired and sick of silence but declared that 99.9 per cent of Nigerian Muslims did not support the attacks. He lamented that rather than look for a way out of the Boko Haram problem some people recommended prayers but pointed out that the places of prayer are now becoming targets and unsafe. Kukah said that Nigerians always defined themselves in the narrow confines of Christians and Muslims whereas what is happening is the evidence of the weakness of the state and has nothing top do with religion. The Bishop explained that the social contract has never worked in Nigeria and that Boko Haram is the symptom of the disease and not the disease itself, adding that the sect’s struggle has not been properly diagnosed because it is 99 per cent political and has nothing to do with science.