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Bishop Kukah Reveals What Might Hinder Credible Election In 2023




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The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah has revealed what might hinder the 2023 general elections from being free, fair or credible.

According to the Kukah, a lack of sense of common citizenship among Nigerians might hinder a free electoral process.

Kukah expressed his worries about most of the electorates that have been deeply divided along ethnic and religious lines.

The cleric stated this at the national discourse that was organised to mark the 60th birthday of the Executive Director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center, PLAC, Mr Clement Nwankwo.

Kukah said, “This is what the failure of the state to live up to its obligation with the citizens has brought us to. So, when we are talking about citizenship participation in the democracy, what exactly are we talking about because everything is still in the state of formation.

“Now, I agree that the first thing to do is to look at what are the obstacles to our developing a sense of citizenship because the first thing that all of us must agree on is that we still find the words of Awolowo being used to validate a sense of the fact that we are not Nigerians.

“Awolowo said that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression. Awolowo said we were first Yorubas before we became Nigerians.

“The truth of the matter is that countries live by the quality of mirths that they have constructed.

“And if you don’t have a means of identity to who you are, not necessarily because you can explain these things anthropologically, but you must have something that holds you together beyond the constitution.

“The constitution is a major instrument but if you now come to terms that between 1914, all the time up till today, we are still debating the quality of constitution that we have and there is a strong body of thought that is still arguing that this constitution is not our constitution because it said we the people and we were not there.

“We shouldn’t have been having these conversations if we had agreed on the threshold of what constitutes citizenship, what the obligations of citizens are and what is the obligation of the state to its citizens.

“I make the point that the notion of citizens in Nigeria is still in suspended animation, in part, because all the simple basic things that we expect from a state are not there.”

While speaking on religion and ethnicity differences, Kukah said the country must find a neutralizing institution.

He also accused the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party of using the high cost of nomination forms to sideline poor citizens from contesting for elective positions.

The cleric said: “People, now, can come to terms with the fact that it is more important to look at yourself as an Igbo man, a Yoruba man or Ijaw man, rather than look at yourself as a Nigerian. And of course, when we talk about political processes, you are never going to have a free, fair or credible election until you fix the sense of common citizenship, and that is that all of us are aiming at the same goal.

“Of course, the system we are running has foreclosed the possibility because there is a lack of consensual clarity.

“Do we understand what democracy is all about? There are other forms of government and indeed we opted for democracy because as Churchill said, it is the worst form of government apart from the others.

“But right now as we know and are talking, even to declare interest in participating in this process despite the quality of your education, say maybe you went to Havard or you went to Yale, that is not enough in Nigeria.

“This is what I can do, no, it is not accepted. So, if you cannot find an N100million or N50million to buy a form, or you don’t have the kind of friends who can buy it for you, I mean it is such a joke, that Nigerians are just sitting and we are just watching.

“If someone has erected this barricade, saying that poor people do not have to apply, that is what he says irrespective of your qualification, then we should not pretend that we are running a democracy.

“We should say that we are opting for plutocracy which is that only rich people can participate in the process.

“But again, I don’t want to sound very dramatic, but I would have said why will Nigerians not go to headquarters of APC and PDP and all these parties and say we cannot afford this p, lease.

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“But Nigerians as I said, we are conversing and drinking brandy and chatting and watching golf, watching tennis, Meanwhile, we have signed up to this reality.”