Onaiyekan: Abuse of Federal Character Act Fuelling Agitations, Tension


Catholic church may canonise late Cardinal Ekandem

Paul Obi in Abuja

As tension build up over recent agitations and threats by some ethnic nationalities, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan See, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, wednesday said the flagrant abuse of the federal character Act by the administration is responsible for the agitations and threats by tribal groups in the country.

Onaiyekan who stated this at a press conference on the Centenary of the late Ignatius Cardinal Ekandem, the first Episcopal Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Metropolitan See in Abuja wednesday, warned that the continued domination of government by a particular tribe and the exclusion of others spell doom for the nation.

The cardinal who spoke as a prelude to the centenary celebration for the late Ekandem slated for tomorrow, tasked the federal government to change the rules of governance in addition to yielding to the call by Nigerians to restructure the country.

He insisted that the anger and dissatisfaction expressed by people would continue in the country, considering that abuse of federal character principle leads to injustice and marginalisation
Onaiyekan stated: “We all know what is causing people to be angry, and if you want to be sincere, there is no part of Nigeria where there is no cause for anger, no part.

“May be some people are expressing their anger more than the others. But everywhere, people are dissatisfied. And this has nothing to do with who is president and who is not the president?

“It goes in my opinion to the rules of governance. How we governed ourselves, the whole area of justice system, equality before the law. The whole concept of federal character supposed to be that no part of the country is left behind. Federal character can not mean that some parts of Nigeria will be favoured over others.

“If the federal character leads to injustice and marginalisation, then, it does not make sense. We must change the way we are doing things, we cannot continue like this.

“Definitely, if we do, there will be more anger, more calls for change and we don’t know who will be able to mobilise more people to cause more problem. Don’t forget that this was the one of the major positions held by the Boko Haram.”
Onaiyekan maintained that lackadaisical attitude displayed by some of those at the helms of affairs would do no good for the country, rather, they should look at the agitation holistically to correct the imbalance in the land.

He said: “The issue is, what are those things that are happening in Nigeria now, which we need to critically and effectively look at, in such that, this sense of dissatisfaction, exclusion, injustice that people are feeling will be reduced to the minimum? So, some people put it under big title of restructuring.

“Some people think that restructuring is to create more states, as far as am concerned if you create more states and the system remains the same, you will only have more problems.

“We need to restructure if we want the country to survive. The truth is that things are not organised properly and it makes the people to be dissatisfied.

“It is not only the Biafrans who are disgusted with this country; a lot of us are, even though we still are not thinking of that. It is like a father who is very angry with his son; you will still not throw him away.” Speaking on the process for the canonisation of Archbishop Ekandem who lived between 1917 to 1995, Onaiyekan said though the late Nigerian first cardinal might be canonised, the chances remain uncertain.

He described late Cardinal Ignatiusas ‘a real man of the church’ who laid the foundation for the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria and achieved many first-class in the priesthood.

The Chairman of the centenary celebration, Monsignor Kenneth Enang, told journalists that the remembrance of Ekandem’s centenary birthday is remarkable given his enormous contribution to Nigeria and the Catholic Church.
To that effect, Enang explained Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is expected to grace the occasion on Friday at the Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Catheral, Garki, Abuja.
He added that a biography of the late Ekandem will also be launched during the ceremony.