By Casmir Igbokwe
Nigeria is a nation populated by many pretenders. Such pretences manifest fully whenever religion or ethnicity is involved. That was the case with the recent Christmas message of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah.
Kukah, in his Christmas homily, spoke truth to power and roused our ethnic and religious chieftains to action. The kernel of his speech is that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government thrives on nepotism and poor leadership.
Kukah said: “Ours has become a nation wrapped in desolation. The prospects of a failed state stare us in the face: endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomie, domestic and communal violence, kidnappings, armed robberies, etc. Ours has become a house of horror with fear stalking our homes, highways, cities, hamlets and entire communities.” He added that a non-northern Muslim could not have done a fraction of what Buhari had done by his nepotism and not risked a military coup or war.
This is what his critics have latched on to attack him. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said Kukah called for a violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government. He also accused him of casting Islam as a violent religion.
Typically, the director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola, berated the bishop, saying he stigmatised Islam as a violent religion and asked him to resign from the National Peace Committee.
The surprising comment came from the Northern Elders Forum (NEF). Though NEF agrees with Kukah that “there are many grounds to question the competence and sensitivity of Buhari’s administration,” it believes “it is irresponsible to search for solutions to President Buhari’s poor governance outside the democratic process.” This is the same group that fired some salvos at Buhari recently over the spate of insecurity in the country. The NEF had noted that life had lost its value under Buhari and even asked the President to resign. Some emirs and imams have similarly lamented the state of affairs in the country. Even the Senate recently told the President that he had failed in his primary duty of securing life and property of citizens. The difference between what Kukah said and what others had said is that the wrong person said the right thing this time.
Last week, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) joined the anti-Kukah fray. According to the body, headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, Kukah’s homily was a poisoned arrow fired at the heart of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria.
Recall that the Sultan himself had recently condemned the spate of insecurity in the North. According to him, people think that the North is safe, but it is the worst place to be in Nigeria. He said “bandits go round in the villages, households and markets with AK47 and nobody is challenging them.”
As expected, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) rose in defence of their own. CAN said Kukah never made any expression suggesting an affront to Islam or a call for a coup. It accused Kukah’s critics of twisting the bishop’s message and said it was injurious to the development of the country.
I have some questions for those who have twisted Kukah’s message for their selfish interests. One, is it not true that the country is witnessing the worst form in insecurity in recent history? Is it not true that Buhari has adopted nepotism as a state policy? How many security chiefs, for instance, are southerners? Has the President not favoured the North in most of his appointments? Which paragraph contains Kukah’s alleged call for a violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government?
As I always say, the problem with Nigeria is that truth is on sale. You will have more enemies if you always stand on truth. By saying it the way it is, you would have stepped on the toes of some powerful interests and they will go all out to undermine you.
Most of our actions are dependent on class, ethnic or religious interests. Or how do you explain that some northerners saw the EndSARS protests that rocked the country late last year as an attempt to overthrow President Buhari? Multiple evidence abound of the atrocities committed by the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police. But when the youths rose up against the security outfit, some northerners came to their defence. They didn’t see it as a northern problem. There were pockets of protests in the North against insecurity then. But when the dummy was sold that it was a southern plot to overthrow Buhari, the protest ceased.
When, in August 2017, popular musician Charles Oputa, a.k.a. Charly Boy, led a protest march in Abuja against the long absence of the President from the country then, some apparently hired youths attacked him and his group at Wuse Market for daring to come to Abuja to protest against Buhari. The same thing happened to the Revolution Now Protest convened by Sahara Reporters’ publisher, Omoyele Sowore.
Meanwhile, the North suffers the abnormalities of Nigeria the more. When you talk of insecurity, it is worse in the North. When you talk about poverty, the North takes the gold medal. The worst educationally disadvantaged states are in the North. Northern youths are supposed to be in the forefront of any action to right the wrongs in our society. But because ‘their man’ is the President, they pretend that all is well and attack those who take actions that will be in their favour. Who did this to us?
We are a people with different languages and cultures. Britain brought us together as one country. But there is no unity of purpose in most of our actions. This is partly why some concerned citizens have called for the restructuring of the country so that each region or geopolitical zone will move at its own pace. There is the urgent need to devolve powers such that the centre will not have concentration of powers to the detriment of the constituent states or zones.
With restructuring, those who want SARS can have it while those who don’t need it can have their own security arrangements. The centre will be there mainly to ward off external aggression and major internal insurrection. The earlier we do this, the better for all of us.
As for those attacking Kukah, let them know that kicking the leg instead of the ball is foul play. They should concentrate on the message and leave the messenger alone. He merely said the inconvenient truth. Nothing more, nothing less!
Soludo: A prophet has honour in his town
Dear Casmir, thanks for presenting a rising sun for governorship. An educated person who read a business course fits the economic climate of Anambra state. However, I advise Soludo to consider either APGA or PDP or work out an alliance between the two.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu,+2349095385215
Dear Casy, honouring ‘Prophet’ Soludo in Isuofia, to me, is not enough. Honouring Soludo in the entire Anambra State with our votes is the utmost leveller and clincher. Anambra State under Obiano speaks volumes in transformation because it is superintended by a Chartered Accountant, a sound Technocrat with interest of Ndi Anambra at heart, not a politician. After Obiano, can power brokers allow us to be lucky to have another technocrat, in the person of Soludo, on board? Already, news from the camp of mudslingers is that Soludo is arrogant and would be disrespectful bla….bla…bla. My advice: Dear Soludo, for the sake of Ndi Anambra who desire Obiano’s transformation to continue, and even much better, please try not to fall into the trap of hirelings for image-tarnishing. A word is enough for the wise.
– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731
Our people say good market sells itself. Chief Professor Charles Soludo is what Anambra people need at this point in time because of his vast experience in economic transformation. This man will turn Anambra state to heaven on earth, if elected to rule the state. Anambra state electorate should queue behind Professor Soludo and elect him so he can make Anambra state a better place for all. He has intimidating CV than other aspirants.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Dear Casy the guber election in Anambra state this year is expected to be the fight of the giants. My take on this important election is that Anambra people must vote wisely and the best since Peter Obi left office about eight years ago. The high level of development put in place by Obi administration wasn’t sustained by Obiano govt. The latest terror at Bridge Head Onitsha is akin to Boko Haram in the North. Obiano boys at Osha have reinvented the criminal activities that predated Obi administration which his govt crushed. Obiano has failed to improve the level of development he met. Igbo are expecting good result in Anambra guber election because Anambra state remains strategic in Igbo land. Most Igbo copy from that state. I commend Isuofia town for promoting and appreciating their own.
– Eze Chima Cletus, Lagos, +2347036225495
Casmir, congratulations on your 20th wedding anniversary. May the good Lord continue to beautify you all. The race to Agu Awka 2021 is heating up. All sorts of stuff are springing up in the name of governors-to-be. But we know the ingredients the stuff are made of. Anambra State is lucky to have a calibre in form of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. The election is going to be between two candidates – Soludo and others. In an environment where qualification is honoured, l will expect other contestants to surrender and join hands with him. In my own community, Nawfia in Njikoka local government area of Anambra State, Soludo Support group has been launched. This is ably supported by Arc. E.C.K. Okafor, Okenwa na Nawfia na Umunri. We have Hon Chinedu Nwoye, Glamour. My humble self also is in the front burner for a futuristic governor that will put our darling state in paradise.
– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 11, 2021