Emeritus Archbishop of Lagos,
Cardinal Anthony Okogie penned an
open letter to President Buhari
Below is the open letter:
Dear Mr. President, Last year, when
you assumed office, the chant of
“Change”, your campaign slogan,
ushered you into the Presidential
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
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 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 way forward
This is the second year of your
administration. You and your party
promised to lead the masses to the
Promised Land. It is not an easy task
to lead. But by campaigning for this
office, you offered to take the
enormous task of leadership upon
yourself. 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
On this same score, please instruct
your ministers, and insist that they be
sincere and polite at those town
meetings. Their sophistry will neither
serve you nor Nigerians. 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.
You will need to take a critical look at
your cabinet, at the policies and
programmes of your administration,
and at those who help you to
formulate and execute them. 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
President are like 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.
If a large portion of the blame for the
present situation is to be laid on the
doorsteps of the entire political class,
the search for solution must involve
everyone. 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
It is the role of the university senate,
not of government bureaucrats, to
decide on who gets admitted and who
is awarded a certificate. The war on
corruption Mr. President, your desire
to wage a war on corruption is just
and noble. But a just war must be
waged with just means.
Those who have stolen the wealth of
this country have broken the laws of
our country. They must be treated
according to the law and not outside
the law, and the outcome of the
judicial process must be respected by
government. Even accused persons
have rights. Where those rights are
violated, we risk a descent to anarchy.
It is our candid opinion that
corruption is not found in only one
party. No political party in Nigeria has
a monopoly of looters. That is why we
need an EFCC that is thoroughly
independent of the presidency, and an
Attorney General without party
affiliation working in partnership
with various independent accounting
institutes. This will ensure that we
come up with an objective list of those
who plundered our treasury.
Mr. President, pardon me if I sound
like a gratuitous counselor. I owe you
the truth and nothing but the truth. In
my life as a public figure and a
religious leader, I have offered my
counsel, for whatever its worth, to
quite a number of Presidents in this
country. I do this because I desire that
you succeed. For the success of the
leader is the success of the citizens. If
there is no solution to Nigeria’s
problem there may be endless war.
You strike one town, you gain it, and
you come again to regain it.
Remember that you cannot put a
crown on your head. It is the people
who put it on you. Otherwise one day,
you will get tired of it. Please listen to
the legitimate cries of your fellow
Cardinal Anthony Okogie, emeritus
Archbishop of Lagos, wrote from

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