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Kukah to Buhari: You’ve Destroyed Nigeria, Divided Nigerians, Enthroned Corruption

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, on Sunday accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of having, “divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, on Sunday accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of having, “divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history.”, 

Kukah, in his Easter Message to the Church and Nigerians said the problems and challenges currently facing Nigeria were beyond the 2023 elections.
He lamented that the government had made Nigerians vulnerable and, “ignited the most divisive form of identity consciousness among the people.”
“The years of friendships, cultural exchange, and collaboration built over time have now come under serious pressure from stereotyping. Notwithstanding these challenges, religious leader must recover to deploy their moral authority and avoid falling victims to the schemes of politicians and their material enticements,” the Catholic Bishop said.
He disclosed that the values of interfaith dialogue have come under severe strain and pressure, “with extremists from both sides of our faiths denigrating the idea of dialogue with their counterparts of other faiths.”
“Ignorance and miseducation have combined with prejudice to create the falsehood that somehow, one religion is superior to the others.
“With so many ill equipped fraudsters posing as religious leaders, there is an obsession with defaming the others and widening our differences,” Kukah added.

He said religious leaders must face the reality, “that here in Nigeria and elsewhere around the world, millions of people are leaving Christianity and Islam. While we are busy building walls of division with the blocks of prejudice, our members are becoming atheists, but we prefer to pretend that we do not see this.
“We cannot pretend not to hear the footsteps of our faithful who are marching away into atheism and secularism. No threats can stop this, but dialogue can open our hearts.
“In the last few years, we have had some good news from outside the shores of Nigeria. The most noteworthy is the initiative undertaken by both Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, Egypt, Shaikh Mohammed Al-Tayeb in 2019, when both of them met and signed the Document on Human Fraternity.
“Pope Francis followed up with the publication of an Encyclical titled, ‘Fratelli Tutti, We are all Brothers,’ in 2020.
“The following year, the United Nation’s General Assembly declared February 4, World Day of Fraternity. Both leaders agreed that: ‘We need to develop the awareness that nowadays, we are either all saved together or no one is saved. Poverty, decadence, and suffering in one part of the earth are a silent breeding ground for problems that will end up affecting our entire planet.”
Furthermore, Kukah said, “We need to start thinking of a Nigeria beyond banditry and kidnapping and the endless circles of violence that have engulfed our communities and nation.
“We cannot continue to pretend that there are no religious undertones to the violence in the name of God that has given our religions a bad name. The way out is for the state to enforce the secular status of the Nigerian state so as to give citizens the necessary freedoms from the shackles of semi-feudal confusion over the status of religion and the state in a plural democracy.

“We must be ready to embrace modernity and work out how to preserve our religions and cultures without turning religion into a tool for tyranny, exclusion, and oppression.”
He maintained that, “in finding our way forward, the President must concede that it is within his powers to decide how we are going to end the war that has engulfed and is tearing down our nation.
“It seems that the federal government has shown far greater commitment to integrating so called repentant terrorists than getting our children back from kidnappers or keeping our universities open. Earlier last month, Operation Safe Corridor announced that it had graduated 599 members of various terrorist groups who have acquired new skills and are now ready to be integrated into society.
“The total comes to over a thousand now. It is plausible to note that the programme involves pyscho-social support, rehabilitation, vocational training, skill acquisition and start-ups.

“Despite all these, the larger issue is that their various communities have expressed their reluctance to receive their erring sons back. Nigerians have no access to the transcripts of the texts of the confessions of these terrorists not to talk of evidence of their commitment to not sin again.
“We have only the words of the terrorists and the same military that they have been fighting a war with. It speaks volumes when the President and his military hierarchy choose to believe these young men who took up arms and for years waged war against their country, killed, maimed and wasted thousands of lives, destroyed entire communities and now, they are being housed, fed, clothed with public funds,” he added.

According to Kukah, “all this while their victims have been forced to make the various IDP camps their new homes! Where is the justice for the victims and the rest of the country they have destroyed.”
He said as a priest, he cannot be against a repentant sinner or criminals changing their ways, noting that, “after all, the doors of forgiveness must always remain open.”
“However, in this case, Nigerians have very little information as to the entire rehabilitation processes.
“Have these terrorists felt the heat or have they seen the light or, is their repentance a mere strategic and tactical repositioning? So far, we have no evidence that these terrorists have been able to confront their victims not to talk of seeking forgiveness from them. Something is wrong. We see these terrorists adorned in our national colours in their green and white kaftans, trousers, and looking like heroes of the state!
“Are we to assume that they have become acknowledged models for Nigerian youth? Perhaps the next graduating set might be treated to Presidential handshakes, receptions at the villa with full national colours.”

He said the unfolding event have vindicated his criticism of this government, saying that last week, in solidarity with him, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, in a statement stated that: ‘It appears that the continuous callous acts of mayhem, killings and arson happening almost on daily or weekly bases around us; either within communities or on the roads we ply, has automatically reset our human psyche that we now have accepted such dastardly acts as part of our lives, to the extent that we no longer feel it.

“Any government that is incapable of protecting the lives of its citizens has lost the moral justification of being there in the first place….our humanity is being eroded and that erosion is become a new normal.”
In addition, Kukah pointed out that the Northern Elders Forum and the House of Representatives recently called on the president to resign since, in their view it was now clear that he cannot protect his citizens.
“This has come three years after the Catholic Bishops’ Statement issued on April 26th, 2018 made the same call that was greeted with cynicism,” he noted.
The cleric stated further that the challenge of fixing, “this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts.”
“With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy. Our individual hearts are broken; our family dreams are broken; homes are broken; churches, mosques, infrastructure are broken.
“Our educational system is broken; our children’s lives and future are broken; our politics is broken; our economy is broken; our energy system is broken; our security system is broken; our roads and rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well,” he added.

According to the Bishop, “as 2023 beckons and the stage is set, the next president of Nigeria must be a man or woman with a heart, a sense of empathy and a soul on fire that can set limits to what human indignities visited on citizens that he or she can tolerate.
“We have no need for any further empty messianic rhetoric laced with deceitful and grandiose religiosity. We need someone who can fix our broken nation, rid our people of the looming dangers of hunger and destitution.
“Our presidential aspirants must show evidence from their legacies and antecedents that they know the country well enough and its severe wounds. Whoever wants to govern us must illustrate that he or she understands what is on ground.”
He thanked the president for accepting the report of the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy and granting pardon to over 150 Nigerians serving various terms of imprisonment.

However, Kukah noted that more serious challenge was to immediately free all innocent Nigerians who are held captive and whose only crime was that they are living in Nigerians.
However, the Bishop congratulated Christians, saying the Easter celebration brings hope and restoration.
He further explained that Easter was a fulfilment of what the Jesus Christ had foretold when he said, “unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Kukah stressed that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are central to the Christian faith.
He noted that the greatest challenges facing the country was how to begin a processes of reconstructing, “our nation hoping on and to survive the 2023 elections.”
“The real challenge before us now is to look beyond politics and face the challenge of forming characters, faith in our country that many have lost confidence in,” he added.

Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto

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