By Paul Obi and Marvellous Okeke in Abuja
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah has berated the suggestion for the sale of national assets by the federal government and some lawmakers, warning that, Nigeria was yet to learn its lessons.
He frowned at the ongoing debate in the country over the call for the sale of national assets in order to overcome the hardship precipitated by the current economic recession in the country.
Kukah stated this during the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of ASSISS with the theme ‘Thirst for Peace’ organised by Saint’ Egido in Abuja, pointing out that, given the magnitude, the issue should be subject to a critical analysis by experts rather than for an open debate and scrutiny by all and sundry.
He faulted the government on the matter and the consistent attitude of Nigerians in allowing every issue take over the national sphere, thereby, beclouding the real challenges faced by the ordinary Nigerians on a daily basis.
Kukah said, ”We have a very bad way of detecting very serious issues which is that 99% of us don’t know what the issues are, we don’t know what the assets are, we don’t know what the assets are worth. “A more serious government will not debate a very serious issue of this nature. I am not impressed that this issue has become a matter Newspapers and media houses are debating.
An issue as profound as this requires a lot of behind-the-scene review and analysis which is the resort of some very important people who understand the issues. suddenly every market woman and everybody including myself has a point of view about the sale of national assets.
“In reality, we don’t know what the national assets are, in my view, the greatest national assets in Nigeria are not NNPC, are not NLNG they are the ordinary people of Nigeria whether they are on the streets and I think the conditions under which ordinary Nigerians are living is the first indictment.
“For me it is not so much about the debate about physical structure, it is about debate over the survival of Nigeria.
It is a very serious issue but we don’t learn lessons. The way we are debating this thing we are going to end up exactly the way we debate structural adjustment programme and by next week, we will not know what has happened and we will move on to something else,” he lamented.
The Bishop further noted that one of the greatest challenges facing the country was the inability of successive governments to fully understand the dynamism of the Nigerian people and seeking out strategies on how best to solve existing problems instead of hiding under a nonexistent cover of religious conflicts.
“I don’t believe that the problems in Nigeria are caused by Christians or Muslims, the problems in this country are problems of capacity. The capacity of those who govern this country to come to terms with what it takes to hold together an extraordinary gifted people like Nigerians that is the only challenge.
“It is unfortunate that we keep talking about conflicts between Christians and Muslims, frankly strange as it may sounds, there is no conflict between Christians and Muslims.
“There is conflict about survival in Nigeria, there is conflict about issues of justice and fairness in Nigeria there is conflict about opportunities in Nigeria. We can get carried away with religion but it is not a very significant component in the crisis Nigeria faces.”
Speaking on the need for peaceful coexistence especially among youths, he urged Nigerians to recognise the good in majority of Nigerians rather than focus on the evil of a few.
“There are a lot of great people in this country, at least 98% of the population. It is not one million people that are in Boko Haram, it is not one million Nigerians that are armed robbers.
“The important thing for us to be aware of is that we still have the 98% of other Nigerians who are decent, who are hardworking and lets not be carried away by the drama let us look into the future”, he said.
Executive Secretary of National Mosque, Alhaji Ibrahim Jega, called on Christians and Muslim faithful to embrace the teachings of love and peace as found in the Bible and Koran, stressing that, the teachings were not different from another.
Jega contended that both religions preach peace and co-existence saying “love your neighbor as you love yourself, love your neighbor in the office, on the streets, in the market or in the farm.
“These are the fundamental teachings of the two religions and never a teaching of violence, insurgency, extremism so we should stick to the teachings of this two religions and we will be very peaceful and loving one another.”
The Director Sant’ Egidio Nigeria, Henry Ezike, said the commemoration is targeted at bringing back the message of ASSISI not only to every nook and cranny In Nigeria, but also all over the world for youths to brace up and take decisions that will promote peaceful coexistence and development of the nation.