Cardinal Anthony Okogie, the Emeritus Archbishop of Lagos, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to act fast and deal with the issue of hunger across the country.
He urged the president to fulfill the campaign promises made by him and his party – All Progressive Congress (APC), adding that “may it not be written on the pages of history that Nigerians die of starvation under your watch”.
He stated this in an open letter which he released on Monday. The letter read:
Last year, when you assumed office, the chant of ‘Change’, your campaign slogan, ushered you into the Presidential Villa. 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 our universities.
Reacting to the news, Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, in an interview with PUNCH, said that the president is already addressing the situation.
“The respected Cardinal asked the President to do something fast to address hunger across the country. That is exactly what the President is doing. He is working hard for Nigerians, so that they can say a final farewell to poverty and hunger,” Adesina was quoted as saying.