Bihop Hassan Kukah, the catholic bishop of Sokoto, a man of many parts, is not one to shy away from societal issues no matter how delicate. Apart from being a spiritual father to many, he is also an intellectual, a socio-political activist, a global figure and an author. In an interview on Arise TV with Charlse Aniagolu, he spoke about the state of the nation, especially the speech he made at the US congress regarding Nigeria today which caused a storm.
His speech to the US congress some weeks ago generated a strong reaction from the presidency and parts of the country that saw him as being divisive, by accusing the present regime of injustice to the people, mostly Christians. He has been accused of castigating his country before a foreign parliament.
In responding to these accusations trailing his speech, he said his speech was misconstrued and probably was not read by media aides of the president like Garba Shehu and Femi Adeshina , therefore the content of his three and a half page paper was taken out of context. For him, he didn’t say anything new apart from what he has been saying. He emphasized that the president has expressed no objection to what he said, as he tried to distinguish between the presidency and the president.
In his words:
“When I am convinced about something, I speak about it, not because I am right but because it is my conviction……. I am an intellectual and the basis of intellectualism is the exchange of ideas.
What is happening to us in Nigeria is that the issues that are contentious have never been contested. The South Africans had five years from when Mandela came out of prison to when he became president, to debate what kind of society they wanted.
Frankly I am convinced I don’t have any problem with Buhari, I think he knows that himself.
I know a spokesman when I see one; these men are not the president’s spokesmen, they are defending their bread, they are not defending Nigeria.”
He insinuated that Nigeria is confused, dabbling between various forms of governance, feudalism, democracy, plutocracy, theocracy. “The military tele guided us. We never had real transition in Nigeria”
“What we call political parties really do not qualify for those names, they are just friendly associations, conveyor vehicles”.
Asked if justice can function in Nigeria, he said that Nigeria is a terribly unjust society which doesn’t even have the architecture to make justice happen. He opined that Nigeria is in need of a sense of diagnosis to be able to understand its problems and then proffer solutions.
Even though I have access to the president, I have greater responsibility to those who are outside
For him, democracy should be allowed to reign unhindered in the country. He explained that most of the benefits of democracy are intangible, rather than bridges, roads and other physical structures which in themselves are not bad. Human life for him should be raised to the highest possible standard, while not neglecting infrastructure.