Kukah’s Cross of Nationalism and The Burden of Buhari’s Presidency
By Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi.
Who is Luis Farrakhan? That was the very first word that reverberated from an old TV set when justice was being done to a nice meal. Hardly do I get distracted when tending to a meal. But not on this occasion. Louis Farrakhan was a lousy brand, polished in eloquent language, but screwed up in bigotry. He was ekking a living and gaining global attention. 1998 was his loudest. He got paid from Nigeria’s Oil money, without any value added to our nation and even got a street named after him. Eleke Crescent for that matter! In a bid to get even with the American Government who immortalised Kudirat Abiola’s memory on American soil, the junta Government Buhari served threw our pearls to the swine. Little or nothing was known about Louis Farrakhan.
Holding to power has become a struggle for Sanni Abacha and his allies. Buhari was in charge of PTF, one of the fraudulent units with which Abacha was siphoning money. The Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF was also one of the cartels sustaining and funding the propaganda machineries of Abacha Government. The one-million-man march, with another mischievous Kanu as the convener was fashioned after Louis’s and ended up getting a chunk of our national cake through PTF in Niara and Kobo. And to think that the Naira wasn’t crippled as it is today under Buhari! Luis Farrakhan visited Nigeria to add his oratory emptiness to the noisome pestilence the Abacha Government has become to Nigerians and got paid by Muhammadu Buhari’s PTF. Buhari may be taciturn but he is an experienced propagandist as we can see from this administration since 2015. He has done tremendously well in the media than the reality on ground.
Faced with the eloquent rantings of Luis Farrakhan, Nigerians dearly needed to know who this American “freedom fighter” who once idolized Adolf Hitler was. His coming to promote the continuation of a Junta Government on the African soil of Nigeria raised so many questions.
Rev, Father Matthew Kukah, was a Priest of the Catholic Church, who was expected to know just enough of Catechism to keep his parishioners coming to his parish for mass. It was he, however, who solved the riddle that Luis Farrakhan has become to the Nigerian public. He gave definition to Louis’s personality is such dramatic way that made me full at the dinner table. His intelligence became my satisfaction and he won my admiration and national attention from that day. What were his words? “Who is Louis Farrakhan? He asked rhetorically, and answered. Louis Farrakhan is an hungry American looking for cheap publicity. With such few but potent words, the effusive balloon of propaganda that was hanging over our national space was deflated. Luis left Nigeria with a deflated ego which he has never been able to recover from.
What are the things Matthew Hassan Kukah and Mohammadu Buhari has in common? The former is naturalized Nigerian, the latter a first-generation nationalised Nigeria. Kukah is a cross carpenter who has fashioned his faith as a bridge across tribes and religions. Buhari unfortunately has a blurred vision of what the Crescent stands for and represents. The Crescent for him has risen over a tribe (Fulani), who must have ownership of Nigeria. The reflection of the light of the Crescent for Buhari is limited to a region (the North). Islam is not reason for Buhari’s lack of sight, for the light of the Crescent that Buhari has sought to dim through bigotry is still clearly seen by other faithful of the religion of peace like the Sultan, Sheikh Gumi, Northern Muslims Professionals are walking the cross of a united Nigeria with Kukah and several other nationalists, among whom is the People’s Senator Sanni Shehu.
Event in the media, since Matthew Hassan Kukah delivered his Christmas homily from the city of the Caliphate; from where the Sultan had earlier cried the same cry should necessarily be put in perspective
Father Matthew Kukah since his dramatic introduction to the nation has at different occasions stepped out of his parishes to adorn our national platform.
Lai Mohammed, like other Buharist, has failed to see objectivity in Father Kukah’s call to Buhari on the State of the Nation, in their usual attitude of ‘Buhari can do no wrong’. Lai Mohammed said, ‘while religious leaders have responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come wrapped in anger’. I beg your pardon! Honourable Minister, you seem to have forgotten that anger is a companion of hunger, and consequently a nation subjected to untold hunger must have plenty of anger in their tone. The wraps of anger on our communication is none of our doing, but of this administration that has wrapped the nation in hunger. Our farmers upon whom we rely for food supply are wrapped in the blanket of death except they obtain military permission to go to their own farms. This administration has inadvertently invited not just the anger of the people but also the wrath of Allah of Islam the religion of peace.
Matthew Hassan Kukah has shown class of a Nationalist that Buhari can only wish for in his next world. Buhari whose brotherhood of the Fulani herdsmen comes ahead of the country called Nigeria, once led his people who have not suffered half what Kukah’s tribe has under Buhari’s Presidency, in protest to the Oyo State Government House. Kukah is yet to be overtaken by such anger that inspired Buhari’s leadership of Fulani herdsmen to Oyo State Government house.
Buharist has gone to dig up all manner of information to smear the impeccable record of Matthew Hassan Kukah, one of which is his membership of the Board of Atiku’s American University in Yola. Which for any reasonable Nigerian is an honour to the administration of education and a privilege to Atiku’s contribution to education to be so dignified by the erudite scholar and global citizen.
Maybe we should investigate Matthew Hassan Kukah, same way he did, Louis Farrakhan, by asking, who is Matthew Hassan Kukah?
He served as the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishop Conference before his consecration to the office of the Bishop. Presently the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto. In 1999 to 2001, he was Secretary Nigerian Investigation Commission of Human Right Violation. Secretary National Political Reform Conference of 2005.
Matthew Hassan Kukah is a Colossus on the landscape of Nigeria whose contribution to nation building can never be demeaned by rants of insensitive political dogs and baboons whose bathing in blood he sought to end with his Christmas homily. He was the presidential facilitator who negotiated an end to the hostilities between Shell Petroleum Development Company and Ogoni people from 2007 to 2009. He is the Chairman of the Interreligious Dialogue Committee for Bishop Conference of both Nigeria and West Africa. A very visible member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City. Buharist, will not cease to amaze us by asking a person most qualified to be begged for word to keep quiet.
Kukah holds a Bachelor of Divinity from St. Augustine’s Seminary. He earned a Master Degree in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in 1980, and a Doctorate Degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1990. He was Senior Rhodes Scholar at St Anthony College (2001-2003), Oxford. A Mason Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, where he earned a Master Degree in Public Policy.
If only the Buharists knew that hidden behind the pulpit, though a man of little stature like Apostle Paul was a man of great learning and a giant from which this Government can find help if they will humble themselves.
Kukah is not just another paper crazy Nigerian in search of certificates to dignify their emptiness, libraries across the globe are enriched with the publications of the Scholar of no mean reputation. Lay your hands on, “Religion Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria” (1992), and your foolishness will be dispelled. “Towards a Just, Democratic Nigeria” (1995), has the capacity to heal not just Mohammadu Buhari but all Buharists. With “Democracy and Civil Society in Nigeria” (1998) we stand a better management of our pubic space and communication engineering. “Witness to Justice”, published in 2011 would have prepared Buhari for the responsibility for which he is grossly failing had he owned a copy.
Kukah is an institution from which all Nigerians desirous of a better deal for our nationhood must continue to learn. The founder of Kukah Center, a public policy Think tank with focus on faith and public policy in Abuja and Kaduna.
Kukah is an institution we cannot ignore if we sincerely hope to find our path to a better and greater Nigeria.
Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi is the Convener, Apostolic Round Table.