Former Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, on Saturday described the Coronavirus crisis as a blessing in disguise that will make Nigerian leaders wiser.
He respected cleric stressed that the pandemic underscores the need for the quality of leadership in the country to improve.
“Thanks to our country’s constitution dubbed federal, government in Nigeria is embarrassingly big, sinfully expensive, prone to corruption, and scandalously inefficient,” he said in a statement in Lagos.
“Nigeria cannot adequately invest in the sectors of health and education because, among other reasons, the constitution of Nigeria has established offices that will require an endless flow of petrol-dollars to maintain.
“By the time low-grade leadership combines with big government and the seemingly irresistible tendency to steal and or waste Nigeria’s money, you find a country whose hospitals are reduced to mere consultation rooms. It is therefore insufficient for our legislators to forfeit their salaries for two months, as they have offered. It is also unsatisfactory for Senators to donate half of their salaries to tackle COVID-19.
“The humongous basic salaries and allowances of our political office holders should become a thing of the past. The money should be used to establish a regime of high-quality medical service delivery. COVID-19 has revealed to us that if we do not do something positive about our hospitals in Nigeria, if we do not invest our money in medical research, we shall one day find ourselves in a situation where we cannot even board a flight out of Nigeria to go on medical tourism. Let us make hay while the sun shines.”
Okogie made afresh case for restructuring in Nigeria and said: “if we continue to run the affairs of our country with a constitution that impoverishes and disables the citizens by establishing offices that do not serve the people, then we would not have learnt good lessons from this pandemic.
“We are spending billions buying brand new cars for our political office holders, paying them sundry allowances, when we have no good hospital to handle the current emergency. Government impoverishes Nigerians, and, the same government has now decided to spray raw cash on the people it impoverishes. On prime-time television, we witnessed the spectacle of bales of naira notes, and a minister of the Federal Republic was doing the distribution.
“But government could and ought to have used this moment to encourage Nigerians to open bank accounts. A more transparent means of giving out the money would have been to ask each person for his or her bank verification number and to send the money into their accounts. Apart from the fact that it would have encouraged more Nigerians to open bank accounts, it would have made it possible to account for every naira that is given out. In the same vein, we have heard how billions of naira are being donated to government without government telling Nigerians how the donation will be spent.”