The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, and the Convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Tunde Bakare, yesterday gave divergent views on the open letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Though Bishop Kukah admitted reading only the first and last pages of the letter, he said the reactions it has generated in the polity was an indication that the contents conveyed personal rather than national interests.
The respected clergy, who spoke at a memorial service in the first year remembrance of the late Kaduna State Governor, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa in Kaduna, said there are procedures for removing a sitting President from office.
According to him, apart from a coup, another way to acquire political power is through an election.
He said: “I am sure some of you have read Obasanjo’s letter. I was one of the first people to get the letter, but not from Obasanjo. I read page one and the conclusion. I have not read the rest. You hear politicians tell you about the threat of doom and bloodshed.
“When food is almost ready, very bitter political enemies who have not been talking will begin to talk, because food is almost ready. So far, there is corruption, the erosion of integrity, the corrosion that passes authority in Nigeria. We have not even come close to what politics is. We have bandits and all kinds of people who want only the key.
“We must continue to pray for Nigeria because we are rescinding and have forgotten what our overall objective should be.
“(Former South African President Nelson) Mandela is dead and Nigeria had better adjust itself very quickly to take its rightful position.
“There are rules to every game. You want to be President; there is a date. You don’t want somebody to be President; there is a process. Short of a coup, there is no other way of accessing power, except through an election.
“For me, what lies before us is not about President Goodluck Jonathan, because even if he stays for 20, he will go one day. But really, we should wake up.
“The idea is that somebody moved from this party to that party or going and coming from Abuja. All of us who are fooling ourselves will soon be left stranded when the matter is settled”.
In his own reaction to the letter, Pastor Bakare, who was running mate to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) in the 2011 general elections, urged President Jonathan to respond to the allegations raised by the former president in his letter even though Mr. Obasanjo lacked the credibility to speak on national issues.
Bakare spoke in Ogba, Ikeja, during a church service at his Latter Rain Assembly.
The lawyer-turned pastor also advised Mr. Jonathan to respond to the weighty allegations before the year 2013 runs out.
“President Jonathan should respond to the letter. He should not wait until January to do so; he should respond now. We may discredit the messenger but we cannot discredit the message”.