By Anayo Ezugwu
BISHOP Matthew Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is displaying the highest degree of insensitivity in managing Nigeria’s rich diversity. He said Buhari has subordinated the larger interests of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women.
In his homily during the funeral mass of the late Seminarian, Michael Nnadi, who was murdered by kidnappers at Good Shepherd Seminary, Kaduna, on Tuesday, February 11, Kukah said that the impression created by the president now was that, to hold a key and strategic position in Nigeria today, “it is more important to be a northern Muslim than a Nigerian”.
“Today, in Nigeria, the noble religion of Islam has convulsed. It has become associated with some of the worst fears among our people. Muslim scholars, traditional rulers and intellectuals have continued to cry out helplessly, asking for their religion and region to be freed from this chokehold. This is because, in all of this, neither Islam nor the north can identify any real benefits from these years that have been consumed by the locusts that this government has unleashed on our country.
“The Fulani, his innocent kinsmen, have become the subject of opprobrium, ridicule, defamation, calumny and obloquy. His north has become one large grave yard, a valley of dry bones, the nastiest and the most brutish part of our dear country. Why have the gods rejected this offering? Despite running the most nepotistic and narcissistic government in known history, there are no answers to the millions of young children on the streets in northern Nigeria, the north still has the worst indices of poverty, insecurity, stunting, squalor and destitution.
“His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, and the Emir of Kano are the two most powerful traditional and moral leaders in Islam today. None of them is happy and they have said so loud and clear. The Sultan recently lamented the tragic consequences of power being in the wrong hands. Every day, Muslim clerics are posting tales of lamentation about their fate. Now, the Northern Elders, who in 2015 believed that General Buhari had come to redeem the north, have now turned against the president.
“We are being told that this situation has nothing to do with Religion. Really? It is what happens when politicians use religion to extend the frontiers of their ambition and power. Are we to believe that simply because Boko Haram kills Muslims too, they wear no religious garb? Are we to deny the evidence before us of kidnappers separating Muslims from infidels or compelling Christians to convert or die? If your son steals from me, do you solve the problem by saying he also steals from you? Again, the Sultan got it right: let the northern political elites, who have surrendered the space, claim it back immediately.
“The persecution of Christians in northern Nigeria is as old as the modern Nigerian state. Their experiences and fears of northern, Islamic domination are documented in the Willinks Commission Report way back in 1956. It was also the reason why they formed a political platform called, the Non-Muslim League. All of us must confess in all honesty that in the years that have passed, the northern Muslim elite has not developed a moral basis for adequate power sharing with their Christian co-regionalists. We deny at our own expense.
“By denying Christians land for places of worship across most of the northern states, ignoring the systematic destruction of churches all these years, denying Christians adequate recruitment, representation and promotions in the state civil services, denying their indigenous children scholarships, marrying Christian women or converting Christians while threatening Muslim women and prospective converts with death, they make building a harmonious community impossible. Nation building cannot happen without adequate representation and a deliberate effort at creating for all members a sense, a feeling, of belonging, and freedom to make their contributions. This is the window that the killers of Boko Haram have exploited and turned into a door to death. It is why killing Christians and destroying Christianity is seen as one of their key missions,” he said.
According to Kukah, the situation in the country is a defining moment for Christians and Christianity in Nigeria. He said Christians must be honest enough to accept that they have taken so much for granted and made so much sacrifice in the name of nation building. “We accepted President Buhari when he came with General Idiagbon, two Muslims and two northerners. We accepted Abiola and Kingibe, thinking that we had crossed the path of religion, but we were grossly mistaken. When Jonathan became President, and Senator David Mark remained Senate President while Patricia Ette was chosen by the South West became a Speaker.
“The Muslim members revolted and forced her resignation with lies and forgery. The same House would shamelessly say that they had no records of her indictment. Today, we are living with a Senate whose entire leadership is in the hands of Muslims. Christians have continued to support them. For how long shall we continue on this road with different ambitions? Christians must rise up and defend their faith with all the moral weapons they have.
“We must become more robust in presenting the values of Christianity, especially our message of love and non-violence to a violent society. Among the wolves of the world, we must become more politically alert, wise as the serpent and humble as the dove (Mt. 10:16). Every Religion has the seeds of its own redemption or destruction. It is a choice between Caesar and God. We cannot borrow the crown of Caesar without consequences.
“The boundaries between faith and reason are delicate, but they are fundamental to how a society builds a moral code. Faith without reason breeds the fanatic, the demagogue, who genuinely but wrongly believes that he has heard the voice of a god ordering him to kill another. Reason without faith produces the ideologues who will also kill because the ideology of the state orders him to do so. Societies can only survive when a Constitutional basis has been established to create a balance between both extremes and to place our common humanity at the centre of every pursuit.
“My dear brothers and sisters, Anger, the quest for Vengeance, are a legitimate inheritance of the condition of unredeemed human being. Both have appeal. Through Violence, you can murder the murderer, but you cannot murder Murder. Through violence, you can kill the Liar, but you cannot kill Lies or install truth. Through Violence, you can murder the Terrorist, but you cannot end Terrorism. Through Violence, you can murder the Violent, but you cannot end Violence. Through Violence, you can murder the Hater, but you cannot end Hatred. Unredeemed man sees vengeance as power, strength and the best means to teach the offender a lesson. These are the ways of the flesh.”
– Feb. 12, 2020 @ 12:25 GMT |