Bishop Kukah’s 2022 Easter Message: Ignore the Messenger; Accept the Message

Abdulkadir Salaudeen

Abdulkadir Salaudeen

The homily delivered by Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah on the occasion of 2022 Easter celebration threw a jab at President Buhari’s lackluster administration. This angered the spokespersons to the President and sparked reactions from them. This should be expected—that is what they are paid for.

Bishop Kukah is well known within government circle (past and present). His role in the National Peace Committee which was majorly formed for smooth transition of power from former President Jonathan to the current President is well acknowledged and appreciated. Ordinarily, that singular action should qualify him as an emblem of peace.

Being a clergyman, he is widely respected. Also being amiable, he was able to establish friendship with the ‘who is who’ in Nigeria—a friendship which cuts across the sharp ethnico-religious and geographical divides. This is the reason why every keen observer of Nigerian politics pays attention whenever he talks or expresses a view that bears on the Nigerian state.

However, clergymen command respect only to the extent that their integrity remains intact. When they suffer integrity deficiency due to some behaviors which people consider to be demeaning to the status of men of God, people tend to treat them with disdain. When that happens, people develop the habit of not reading serious meanings to their utterances. This is the case with Bishop Kukah.

If there is any cleric who lacks the legitimacy or moral justification to criticize the present government, I think that should be Bishop Kukah. He was strangely taciturn during the Jonathan’s years when voice of clergyman like him would have discomforted the government and jolted it into action from its sleeping mood.

His 2022 Easter Message elicits mixed reactions. It bifurcates Nigerians, as usual, into wailers and hailers. But he made some salient and incontrovertible points in his message. He said “Nigerians can no longer recognize their country has been battered and buffeted by men and women from the dark womb of time. It is no longer necessary to ask how we got here. The challenge is how to find the slippery rungs on the ladder of ascent so we can climb out.”

Though if we choose to ask how we got where we are, former President Jonathan’s regime and PDP will feature prominently as enablers of our present predicament. But then, Bishop Kukah seemed to be apparently comfortable because Jonathan is one of his brothers in faith.

He further observed that this “government has slid into hibernation mode. It is hard to know whether the problem is that those in power do not here, see, feel, know, or just don’t care.” Honestly, I find it hard to know too; so are many Nigerians. But before this government slid into hibernation mode, Bishop Kukah had been in similar mode when President Jonathan’s PDP was working day and night to wreck the Nigerian ship.

What the present government seems to be doing is to spread (instead of clear) the debris left behind by the previous government. While it is fashionable to say this government has failed woefully than any government ever in Nigerian history, shouldn’t religious leader like Bishop Kukah remain in hibernation mode? That is if his antecedent taciturnity is anything to go by.

His friend, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim (a Christian like him) said it all in his column titled “Bishop Matthew Kukah: Can A Partisan Tell Truth To Power?” published January 1, 2021. He drew the Bishop’s attention to reason why he remains controversial. The title of the column said it all. Many see Bishop Kukah as a partisan clergyman and more of a bigot who should stay aloof from politics. His advocacy for good governance in Nigeria and his bluntness to say things as they are ordinarily should endear him to many of us. But because these good traits are laced with bigotry, hardly do people give his candid and timely messages the seriousness they deserve.

For instance, the only thing the Bishop thanked President Buhari for in his Easter Message is the pardon granted to over 150 Nigerians serving different terms of imprisonment. This is, no doubt, a veiled reference to, and a solidarity for, the two big Supreme Court confirmed thieves (the duo of Joshua Dariye and Reverend Jolly Nyame) who are his brothers in faith. I don’t know of any intelligent Nigerian who did not criticize this miscarriage of justice—couched as presidential pardon—except our intelligent Bishop. This is the height of bigotry.

The Bishop also took a swipe at Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, for what he called ‘delayed solidarity.’ He was referring to a statement released by JNI, publicly lamenting the state of the nation. Let’s ask Bishop Kukah: is it not better late than never? The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, under Ayo Oritsejafor which was seen by many Nigerians as an extension of President Jonathan’s government never condemned the latter’s confirmed cluelessness, destruction of Nigeria’s economy and bastardization of Nigeria’s image.

Similarly, he considered the call for the President’s resignation by the Northern Elders Forum a belated call. The NEF should rather be commended; the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) never called for the resignation of President Jonathan when his actions and inactions plunged Nigerians to the abyss of inferno in which we are still being roasted.

All said, we can ignore the messenger (Bishop Kukah) and accept his timely message. For all what he said about the present government is just the existential reality. To describe this government as a failure is, in the words of Sonala Olumhense, “an act of self-deprecating generosity.”

It is high time our clerics minded their clerical works. If they must have a say in politics, their interventions shouldn’t reek of hypocrisy and bigotry. Just like the Bishop, here is our own Dr. Pantami who did not only criticize PDP, he, in addition, cursed PDP and grouped it among the disbelieving groups. But today, his lips are sealed. You know why? Bigotry.

Religious scholars who would like to dabble into politics should wean themselves of bigotry to maintain their dignity and relevance.

 

 

 

Abdulkadir Salaudeen.

salahuddeenabdulkadir@gmail.com

@salahuddeenAbd

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Comments 1

  1. Gerson Dogo says:

    I strongly disagree with this writer when he said that Bishop Kukah was silent on pressing national issues while GEJ held sway as president. President GEJ was seated at the national church during an interdenominational service to mark Nigeria’s independence in 2012. The Bishop lambasted the govt by asking why would citizens respect the govt when they power their tv from their generator, drink water from their boreholes andhier tuaregs to secure provide security

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