The Archbishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastic Province, His Grace, Dr Emmanuel Chukwuma has lambasted President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife, Aisha, over their recent outburst in the media, saying that their blames and counter-blames constitute national disgrace.
The First Lady had first raised the alarm that her husband’s government has been hijacked by a cabal and the president retorted that she belonged to the kitchen and other rooms in Aso Rock.
Dr Chuwkwuma who is also the Bishop of Enugu Anglican Communion believes that the altercation between the president and his wife showed that there was confusion in the Aso Rock Villa, warning the two to understand that they are the foremost leaders of the country and should therefore find a more amicable way of settling their differences.
In this interview at the Archbishop’s Court in Enugu, Dr Chukwuma also spoke on the raid of judges by the Department of State Services (DSS) and recession.
Few days ago, the wife of the President, Aisha raised the alarm that a cabal has hijacked the government of the husband and Buhari came out to say that his wife belongs to the kitchen and other rooms; how do you look at this outburst of the wife and the response of the President?
This is to show that Aso Rock is in confusion, because when this type of thing begins to happen between husband and wife that are supposed to be leaders of the nation, then that tells you that things are not right in the nation, and it is a very serious national disgrace when they begin to expose themselves like this. It means that the two don’t agree because right now, the husband said, “I don’t know the party my wife belongs,” and the woman is saying that the man as far as she is concerned has neglected those who campaigned for him and was left in the hands of few cabals.
Who are those cabals? It is what we must ask. But it is quite clear that Buhari with what he is doing has no clear agenda. Some people must have been controlling the few agenda for their own selfish ends, and that is why we have not got any solution to Nigeria’s problems. So, it is high time we began to ask, where are we going Nigeria? For the wife of the President to come out to say she doesn’t even like the way the government is going, which means things are bad and really the people are complaining. She said, “I’m not happy with my husband’s government,” if a woman can say that she is not happy with the husband’s government, that means Buhari should re-examine himself because things are getting tougher and tougher; people are getting fed up. There is no short cut to any success now, and we begin to ask, “where are we going?” So, it is high time we began to ask ourselves, “is this government the change that we want or a change that has changed us into serious agony?” So, for me, I believe that Buhari has failed. He has failed in his home, he has failed in governing this nation because if not, most of the things we are hearing now, even concerning the judges and other things; it’s a terrible situation. I think Mrs Buhari is speaking the truth and she is an insider in the house. I think she should, therefore, be allowed to have her freedom because the President was the one that said there was no place for the First Lady, and he cannot say that because everywhere in the world, even America, the wife of the President has her own role to play, and the majority percentage of the population of Nigeria are women, so I cannot see how you can push the women aside. I think women should be given their place, if the whole women rise to support the wife of the president, it will cause confusion. There will be no peace for Buhari. So, he should watch it and be very careful.
Before the President came into office, he said that he was not going to maintain the office of the First Lady; so from what he has just said that the wife belongs to the kitchen, it appears he meant his word?
Yes, but that is absolutely unacceptable, a woman like that who is so enlightened and who has a vision, and has her own programme for the women can’t just have a place in the kitchen; yes, she cannot abandon her responsibilities in the kitchen or in the bedroom because they are also her responsibilities, but additionally, she must take care of the other women of this nation. She should be given free hand to do that and that is exactly my view because she cannot just be locked up in the bedroom or in the kitchen. Buhari does not have time for the women of this country and the wife must be given that sort of responsibility to look after the women, otherwise things will go bad.
The judges you mentioned, are you saying that the DSS raid of some of these judges they assumed to corrupt was wrong?
Well, it won’t be too wrong if the thing has been done in a proper way. I feel they should have given them some respect to invite them other than raiding their houses like somebody who is a criminal, we have to confirm that; but in all, the lawyers are to be blamed because the question is, “who gave these judges money?” It is the lawyers who probably played the role of go-between for them and the people, probably in tribunal or whatever; they collect this money and give to the judges. So they should trace this money to the lawyers who get them for the judges and all of them should be persecuted. But the process from which the judges were approached was absolutely wrong as per the respect to the judiciary. The judiciary should be given their respect, and if not immunity, but respect. To come to a house of a judge and take him away like a criminal is absolutely unacceptable, the DSS went too far. I think they should give respect to whom respect is due.
It has been said in some quarters that this recession in the country started in 2014; do you think it will be right again to place all these blames on President Buhari?
Well, the thing there is if it started in 2014, at least, things were better. Rice was not N21,000. In recession, the exchange of naira was not what it is today. So, I don’t believe so, there is something wrong somewhere with the management and policy for financial procedures and we have to look into that because right now from 2014 till now, you will find out that things have gone worse, even Mrs Buhari is saying that people are now agitating for Goodluck Jonathan’s government, saying that it was better because things were easier at that time. So, we cannot say that corruption was not there at that time but the life at that time was easier. And we cannot say that there is no corruption now, but there is hardship.
Beside the cabal the First Lady mentioned, have you seen anything other wrong in the Buhari’s administration?
Yes, a lot of things are wrong, inasmuch as I said it in Aso Rock that when you say you are fighting corruption, Buhari is not fighting corruption, he is only trying to recover the money stolen. Fighting corruption is not when you are recovering money. Fighting corruption should start from you, as he said, “Change begins with me,” it should begin with him really because in that Aso Rock, there are a lot of corruption there. The man who is the President of Nigeria is not sincere in the fight against corruption. And that is why there seems to be selective negligence. He seems to be selecting some people and leaving some people. If not, members of his cabinet are supposed to be probed as governors and the way they used their money to sponsor his campaign, what has he done about it? Not only that too, you find out that even up till now, a lot of things are wrong with the budget.
When you make a budget and the year is coming to an end, why are we still waiting for the implementation of the budget by release of funds, people are being owed. So, that is one of the things that are tying him down. Not only that, you will find out that this present government, they seem not to be sensitive to the needs of the people; by now, we should have been having some relief, some palliative measures to make life easier for Nigerians. The exchange rate for the naira is still very high, school fees are quite expensive, the salaries of workers are stagnant while inflation has gone high. Now a bag of rice is higher than the minimum wage, how do you want people to survive? Something is wrong with that. And again, most of the things they claim to be doing on the railways are the work started by Jonathan and they are now claiming they are doing it, how many old lines have they removed from the Eastern part of Nigeria? You find out that this is one sided, and he (Buhari) seems not to be doing well in the case of Fulani herdsmen, so that is another thing that is wrong, he seems to be very much passive about it.
What advice will you give to the president to move the country forward?
Mr President should dissolve his cabinet and find people who are technocrats indeed. Most of the people who are in his government are selected on sentiment to settle them on the money spent on his election. They are not technocrats and they are not professionals in that profession. I can’t imagine when a lawyer is seen in the housing and road construction ministry. I can’t see a way where somebody who is a medical doctor is in the labour ministry. He should listen to reasonable and responsible people. He seems not to be listening, he seems to be a military democrat and that is not acceptable in this country. And again, he should try as much as possible to make sure that he settles his home. All this discussion between him and Aisha should be settled. Nigerians are not happy when the house and the first home is in disarray. We want them to be settled and speak with one voice, and those bad advisers around him should get exterminated with immediate effect so that he will be able to do better for Nigeria.