A Catholic cardinal and archbishop in Nigeria has hit out at government corruption in the country in a letter to the nation's president. He described 'negligence, incompetence, greed and insecurity' amongst political elites whilst Nigerians die of hunger and suffer terrorist violence.
Catholic archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, released the impassioned, highly critical letter on Tuesday, according to the Daily Post.
The letter challenged president Muhammadu Buhari over revelations that the leader had been oblivious to the rebellion of his Inspector-General of Police, who had ignored orders earlier this year.
Buhari, the letter said, 'has just made a candid admission that he is not in control of his service chiefs...Boko Haram, said by the President's spokesmen to be degraded and technically defeated, abducted 110 schoolgirls in Yobe State. Are the service chiefs still taking orders? Is the President still in control of security?'
Violent Fulani herdsmen have enacted a killing spree in Nigeria's volatile Middle belt region in recent months: January attacks on the predominantly Christian community of Miango, Bassa killed 75. In the past three weeks at least 57 lives have been claimed by further violence.
'Instead of declaring the murderous herdsmen a terrorist organisation, the president offers pious exhortation to their victims to love their neighbours,' the letter read. 'His party and the ruling party of yesterday score cheap political points, comparing notes on levels of incompetence and gravity of negligence in security matters displayed by their respective governments.'
'Our security is not only threatened by herdsmen. It is also threatened by the incompetence of our leaders, their conduct or misconduct, their greedy unethical glorification of perks of office. If, as one senator recently said, each senator receives 13.5 million naira per month as running cost, added to 720, 000-naira monthly salary, then our security is threatened. Interestingly, the Senate has not contradicted what this senator said. The senator himself has not told Nigerians if he too had been receiving this huge amount.'
The cardinal urged that the salaries be cut to provide support for education, improved access to electricity and to combat poverty and insecurity.
'Nigeria spends so much on government. Yet, there is little or no governance...Half of the huge amount of money devoted to servicing political office holders in Nigeria can be spent on education. That will vastly improve our prospects for prosperity and security. To do otherwise is to sentence this country to a future of unending poverty and insecurity. That Nigeria invests more in her recycled politicians than in her youths is a breach of security that mortgages her future.'
He added: 'Many are dying of hunger. Salaries are not paid. School fees cannot be paid. Parents withdraw children from school. Meanwhile, Nigeria's politicians, paid huge sums of money, throw lavish wedding parties, at a time of heightened insecurity, and the President and Vice President lead the guests.
'Lust for perks of office has made elections into public offices in Nigeria a security concern. Machiavellian politics has become the most lucrative business. Nigerians must reflect on these questions before voting next year: when shall we have a government and Commander-in-Chief that truly protect us?'
The letter concluded: 'Will there ever be conversion of hearts among Nigeria's politicians? When will Nigerian political office holders begin to serve those whose votes put them in office? Can it be said that this narrative of negligence, incompetence, greed and insecurity is a prelude to 2019? We are watching and waiting.'