Nigeria, according to Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, faces an unclear future.
Kukah delivered the keynote address at an event in Abuja on Wednesday titled “Civic Space: Pathway to Social Cohesion and Integration in Nigeria.”
The Kukah Centre and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa co-hosted the event (OSIWA).
The country is on a dangerous path, according to the bishop, because young people are feeling powerless.
“This is a dangerous path we are treading. Our young people are feeling disempowered. We are faced with a nation that is consuming its own children, we are faced with the prospects of an uncertain future. It is impossible, even the worst enemy of Nigeria would never have contemplated that this is where we will be,” he said.
“Democracy is not an exercise undertaken by good men and women which is what Nigerians have always fallen victims to – that we are looking for holy men, men of integrity, men of dignity to govern us and we assume that managing a diverse Nigeria does not require some level of deep intellectual reflection and understanding on the complexity in managing a society so energetic,”
“In 1998, I tried to write an article on civil society out of curiosity, that article turned into a book ‘Democracy and Civil Society in Nigeria’ and a lot of people commended the book – it is no longer in circulation. One of the things I concluded was that democracy and dictatorship cannot co-exist, one has to cancel out the other.
“The tragedy that has now afflicted our country is no excuse for us to become despondent, 2023 whether it happens or whatever the case may be, we prayerfully hope it happens, it gives us another opportunity to think of the mistake we made.
“Using the agents of state, those in power have also sought to close the (civic) space. Democracy is a work in progress, all of us engaged in Democracy and opening up the civic space must realize that it is a long journey,” he added.