The Emeritus Archbishop of Lagos,
Cardinal Anthony Okogie, has said President Muhammadu Buhari must do something
fast to address hunger across the country.
in an open letter to the President on Monday that
Buhari’s campaign slogan was anchored on change.
He stated, “Today, cries of
“hunger” could be heard across the length and breadth of our vast country.
Nigerians hunger, not only for food, but also for good leadership, for peace,
security and justice.
“This letter is to appeal to you to
do something fast, and, if you are already doing something, to redouble your
effort. May it not be written on the pages of history that Nigerians die of
starvation under your watch?
“As President, you are the chief
servant of the nation. I therefore urge you to live up to the huge expectation
of millions of Nigerians. A stitch in time saves nine.”
The cardinal said that Buhari and
his party, the All Progressives Congress, promised to lead the masses to the
said that although it was not an
easy task to lead, the President during his campaign offered to take the enormous task of
The cardinal stated, “Nigerians are
waiting for you to fulfill the promises you made during the campaign. They voted
you into office because of those promises. The introduction of town hall
meetings is a commendable idea. But in practice, you, not just your ministers,
must converse with Nigerians. You are the President. You must be accountable to
them. The buck stops on your desk. Even if your administration has no magic
wand at least give some words of encouragement.”
He said that the President
should instruct his ministers to be
sincere and polite at the town hall meetings, adding that their sophistry would
neither benefit Nigerians nor the President.
“Mr. President, if you want to
leave a credible legacy come 2019, in all sincerity, please retool your
administration. Change is desirable. But it must be a change for the better.
Let this change be real. Change is not real when old things that we ought to
discard refuse to pass away,” he added.
Okogie said that the President must
take a critical look at his cabinet, policies and programmes of his administration.
He added, “You will need to take a
critical look at the manner of appointments you have been making. It is true
that commonsense dictates that you appoint men and women you can trust. But if
most of the people you trust are from one section of the country and practice
the same religion, then you and all of us are living in insecurity.
“The Nigerian economy has never
been in a state as terrible as this. You as the President, you are like the
pilot of an aircraft flying in turbulence. Turbulent times bring the best or
the worst out of a pilot. We can no longer blame the turbulence on past
administrations. You know quite well that some of the officials of your
administration served in previous dispensations. Blame for what we have been
experiencing is in fact bipartisan in character.
“The entire political class needs
to come together, irrespective of party differences to acknowledge its
collective guilt and to seek ways of saving the sinking ship that our country
has become. This cannot be done if some officials of your administration
demonise and alienate members of the opposition.”
Okogie said that if a large portion
of the blame for the present situation was to be laid on the doorsteps of the
entire political class, the search for solution must involve everyone.
He said, “That is why no one should
be alienated. All hands must be on deck.
“This is the time to revitalise
moribund industries, reinvigorate our agriculture, make our country tourist and
investor friendly, and enable our young men and women to find fulfillment by
contributing to the common good.
“None of these lofty goals can be
achieved without good education. On this particular issue, recent appointments
you have made in the education sector raise a question: have you really
appointed the best? Still on education, it is important that our universities
be allowed to use their own criteria to admit students. It is a gross violation
of the principles of federalism and academic freedom for the Federal Government
to insist that only a federal parastatal can decide on who gains admission into
Responding, the Presidency said
President Muhammadu Buhari was already addressing the hunger in the land as
advised by Okogie.
The Special Adviser to the
President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in an interview
with The Press.
Adesina said Buhari was working
hard to ensure that Nigerians bid poverty and hunger farewell in shortest
The presidential spokesman said,
“The respected cardinal asked the President to do something fast to address
hunger across the country.