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The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Kukah, on Saturday warned secession agitators that while their campaign may be right, it would be in the best interest of every segment of the country to stick together.

Kukah said the cost of staying together as a nation is cheaper than dismantling Nigeria.

The clergy spoke virtually during the 2021 edition of The Platform, an annual conference organised by Pastor Poju Oyemade of the Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos.

Kukah accused the Buhari Administration of creating the atmosphere for the secession agitations by making people feel alienated from governance through inequality in power distribution at the federal level.

“It may be right for everybody to want to go. Yes, it may be right for people to want to feel so dissatisfied that they want an end to what we have today. But the cost of staying together is far cheaper than the cost of everybody going his way,” the outspoken Kukah said in his contribution to the topic ‘Is Devolution of Powers the Solution to Nigeria’s Problems’?

He added: “The most important thing here is that the government must give us a reason – the body language – we need to be inspired as a country to inspire ourselves that this country is worth the psychological, the spiritual and the cultural engagements.

“Anybody who loves this country would have to accept the fact that the APC as a government and the President must take responsibility for the fact that the way power has been distributed in Nigeria has created a sense of alienation and it is the underlining factor why people feel the way they feel, why people feel so disenchanted, why people don’t feel a sense of psychological, emotional, cultural or even economical involvement in their country, and there is the need to reclaim all of those things back.

“The challenge now is how do we connect back? Because all the things we are hearing now, nobody would have expected to hear them, and now everybody wants to go home.”

Government, he said, has to develop a sense of empathy for the victims of the rising insecurity in Nigeria.

He wondered whether the authorities understand the pain many Nigerians currently go through on account of the situation in the country.

“The government must develop a sense of empathy and I have said this on several occasions. I do not mean anything negative, and everywhere you turn to, this is what Nigerians are saying.

“People are dying and we do not get a sense that those who govern us understand and see our pain, because we have not seen them at funerals or on condolence visits.

“We have not seen them whether by telephone call or whatever. Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy is at the heart of who we are as human beings.”

Also speaking, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, said the odds to “transform Nigeria are stacked against us.”

He said that for the National Assembly to make Nigeria great, its powers “have to be diminished. And they are not about to do that.”

Agbakoba said the trouble with Nigeria is not the constitution but its leadership, adding: “Is Devolution of Powers the solution to Nigeria’s problems now? The answer is no. We need to talk about hunger.”

He singled out state governors for allegedly not respecting the Nigerian Constitution and “have not shown that they are responsible towards it.”

His words: “The state governors have paralysed the judiciary and they are looking for more power. They haven’t shown that they are constitutionally responsible because they are not obeying the constitution.

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“The governors seem to have retreated and do no more than go to Abuja and collect. We want to see more action on the part of our governors.

He said the power of strong leadership played out in the US when governors were able to curb the excesses of President Donald Trump.

“It was strong leadership by the governors that restrained Trump’s undemocratic practices,” he said.

On his part, Pastor Oyemade said: “With the way things are going in Nigeria, things must change.

“It is not that Nigerians are not bright or intelligent . . . the problem is the lack of political will to drive change.”

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