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Onaiyekan’s sermon on the mount: Nigeria yet to recover from military rule; acclaimed repentant democrats still acting dictators

Onaiyekan’s sermon on the mount: Nigeria yet to recover from military rule; acclaimed repentant democrats still acting dictators

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Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, on Tuesday, said that Nigeria is yet to recover from the infection of the military rule that lasted for over three decades.

He was more worried that some individuals who claimed to be repentant Democrats, who have the opportunity to occupy political offices in current Nigeria democratic systems were still acting with the mindset of military coup plotters, and that could be seen in their utterances and official engagements.

He was apparently making reference to some development in the country political space particularly in the judiciary where President Muhammadu Buhari, had to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The cardinal who made the observation at a press conference in Abuja, to herald a week- long activities to mark his 75th birthday anniversary, said he was unhappy that Nigeria had continued to make two steps forward and five steps backward, in spite of abundance of human and natural resources at her disposal.

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He said: “Nigeria has been beating around the bush as far as democracy is concerned. 30 years of military rule was about dictatorship and outright order. Nigerians tolerated it for so long that it assumed a normal situation. I hope that by now, Nigerians must have realised that it was a wrong way to go.

“But it’s obvious that we have not recovered from the infection of the military rule. Regrettably, many of the actors in current democratic systems are still acting with the mind set of military coup plotters. They talk with military tone. They see election like a do or die affair. They use the word ‘capturing power’ which are wrong statement in democratic system.

“It’s evident that progress will continue to elude us until we retrace our steps and do the right thing. Former President Jonathan set a good precedence when he willingly conceded defeat in 2015 election. That was because African leaders rarely concede defeat in an election. I had expected losers in the forthcoming elections to concede defeat, but from all indications, otherwise might be the case.”

He thus challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to consolidate on the success of previous elections, with a charge on the security agencies and other stakeholders to be apolitical in their approach to the elections.

He added that the world has beamed its searchlight on Nigeria, and they would use the forthcoming elections to assess Nigeria’s readiness for democracy.

“But I am an optimist, and I believe that the right things would be done to strengthen the credibility of the forthcoming elections.”

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