After reading some online comments and, despite some busyness of various engagements, I took time to read Bishop Kukah’s communication again. I must confess that, I came of with worse opinion of the piece.
Let me say that we are living in very difficult times. There seems to be a recrudescence of insurgency, with very gory orgies of nerve wrenching killings.
How did we get to this reversal from the gains of 2016 and 2017, when the insurgents were dealt devastating blows by the security forces? How did we lose the initiative so soon?
Some allege that the containment efforts of insecurity have now become very juicy; all the various apparatus of the society engaged in these efforts are now seen as reticent in bringing the menace to decisive end! All said, this is the time for a more united and cohesive front against a common enemy by all well meaning citizens. When September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks happened in US, with attendant fatalities of thousands of lives, it was a time for all citizens to leave their racial and political prejudices and cleave as one people to confront, with undisguised stridency and undiminished intensity, the rumbles of a common enemy.
In the midst of the current security challenges, some catholic seminarians were abducted and one was killed. With measured staccato of tirades against the government – particularly the person of President Muhammadu Buhari, his tribe and religion – Bishop Matthew Kukah of the Catholic Sokoto diocese chose the time and space to unleash his bile against his chosen adversaries.
For me, the time of mourning was not an auspicious one to freely use acerbic innuendos as he freely did in paragraph 11.
Furthermore, the occasion for burying a young teenage seminarian is not one to freely use saber rattlings as he did in paragraphs 19 to 23. What Bishop Kukah did in those paragraphs is akin to saying that, but for the fact that I am a Christian, I would have shown you my true colour. A truly regenerated Christian should not freely use such veiled threats as expressions of his vaunted position or positional strength; the portrayals put up by Bishop Kukah was really unbecoming of an urbane Shepherd!
In subsequent paragraphs, he took his audience through needless circuitous routes, steeped in religious bigotry. How on earth could he have read religious undertones to the rumblings among politicians in the House of representatives as to think that Patricia Etteteh was removed on account of her religious belief? I was really flummoxed by that needless divisive posturing of a clergy, who is an opinion moulder.
My disappointment in the unfortunate and disconcerting communication of Bishop Kukah was also hinged on his veiled characterization of President Muhammadu Buhari as a religious bigot, which he knows is untrue!
I remember in 2012 when we (friends and acolytes of General Muhammadu Buhari) planned to give him a huge 70th Birthday bash, I was the one who contacted Bishop Kukah to be the guest speaker. I remember what he told me when I contacted him. At that time, he was just a Reverend Father on the same Sokoto diocese. On the phone, he told me that he was very busy with some already scheduled appointments but “for General, I shall do it”.
He also knew that, despite all the elaborate arrangements, GMB – as PMB was then known – cancelled the celebration on 15th December, 2012, just two days to the D-day. Why? Two notable Nigerians, and coincidentally Christians, Governor Patrick Yakowa and Lt Gen. Andrew Azazi, lost their lives through helicopter accident.
What was more galling in the entire episode was the widening of the ethnoreligious gulf with that demagoguery by this catholic Bishop! This, he did with the cold insouciance that makes one doubt his sincerity for the tranquility of this multiethnic, multireligious society.
Sometime in 2010, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, called out soldiers to guard the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, in anticipation of the arrival of the body of the ailing President Umaru Musa-Yar’adua from Saudi Arabia without informing the the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan! He was thoroughly lampooned for that unprofessional conduct. In a swift reaction, the Sultan of Sokoto, while speaking at the opening of the Syrian mosque in Ikoyi, Lagos, castigated those who criticised the Army Chief. Not done, he asked rhetorically, “is it because he is a Muslim?”
This, of course, did not go down well with me. As I was miffed with the Sultan’s deliberate obfuscation then, so I am rebuffing the stance of Bishop Kukah today.
I abhor when Nigerian elite use their privileged positional strata as launching pad for selfishly raising the ethno religious temperature of the polity!
I thought that Bishop Kukah would not forget in a hurry about how a tiny cabal in the government of late President Umaru Musa-Yar’adua, in a characteristic cynically opportunistic manner, tried to block the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan from being sworn in as the acting President. This group of selfish apparatchiks of the government had exploited a lacuna in the 1999 constitution as regards the transfer of power from the President to the Vice President – through a letter to the National Assembly by the President- should there be need to be out of the Country beyond a specified duration. The comatose state in which the late President Yar’adua left the country did not allow him to write that letter to the National Assembly. While the seeming impasse lingered, on 14th January, 2010, General Muhammadu Buhari personally delivered a letter to the Senate President David Mark. The content of the letter was an admonition to the Senate to swear in vice President Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President with full executive powers!
This gave the Senate the needed impetus to pass the ingenious ‘doctrine of necessity’ through which Goodluck Jonathan became acting President, thus breaking the noxious logjam.
The last time I checked, Goodluck Jonathan was a Christian from Otuoke, Bayelsa state!
My concern about Bishop Kukah is, had he given much thought to his communication, he would have known that not many Nigerians would easily swallow the gambit, more so that he worked tirelessly against President Muhammadu Buhari in the last election. His attempt to broker peace between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as a way of shoring up the electoral fortunes of the latter, did not deter Nigerians in voting massively for this much vilified President Muhammadu Buhari!
What Bishop Kukah had unwittingly achieved by this misadventure was a vitiation of his worth as a true believer in the virility of our own dear native land, Nigeria.
Regardless the demurring of the naysayers, Nigeria shall move towards that nation of our dream because, this too, shall pass!
Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, FNSE.