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Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah; A Mischaracterised Patriot In A Failing State



By Mark Adebayo 
A honest man is the noblest work of God”
        – Robert Burns

I first came across Most Reverend Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah through his newspaper interviews/articles in the early ’80s. Fresh from secondary school, I was still intellectually impressionable but extremely inquisitive about knowledge, politics, revolution, religion, history and humanity.
I utilised the interregnum between concluding writing the West African Examination Council, WAEC, and awaiting the results to read mass of literatures on any subject that caught my fancy, including daily and weekly tabloids, local and international newsmagazines of those days like the Daily Times, Tribune, Sketch, New Nigerian, The PUNCH, Concord, African Concord, Africa Now, Time, NewsWeek, et cetera. NewsWatch came later to blaze an indelible trail in Nigeria’s journalism.
Also readily available were liberation materials, books and pamphlets published by the African liberation movements like the African National Congress, ANC, RENAMO, POLISARIO, ZANU-PF, NRM and the Black Consciousness Movement which I later led its branch at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science, Ile-Ife, in 1985. It was  there I spearheaded the formation of Revolutionary African Youth Liberation Struggle.
We meant business!
It was around this period that I began to see and read Bishop Kukah’s writings. He immediately struck me as a loaded cleric, informed and intellectually well-equipped beyond the confines of clericalism. You cannot read or listen to Bishop Kukah without paying attention. He is far beyond the archaic frivolities of of a preconditioned mind and is unrestricted by the bounds of primeval religiosity – a man passionately committed to God and humanity. That’s the kind of stuff I saw that he was made of, plus the fact that he always demonstrated an intrepid engagement of sociopolitical and leadership challenges in the country. Nothing has changed till date except that he is becoming more daring.
-The atrocious backwardness of Africa is critically dependent  on the egomaniacal avariciousness of Africa’s rulers –
Speaking truth to power has always been hazardous and sometimes fatal. Political leadership, especially in Africa, is synonymous with divine unquestionability. It’s a deadly taboo to question the guy in power or even ask elementary questions of accountability. Once you do that, you have crossed the red line and positioned yourself in the crosshairs  of political intimidation with unpredictable consequences. To question people in power in Africa is treasonous. Your citizenship does not include the right to demand accountability or good governance. You’re expected to worship the incumbent and kowtow under his supreme majesty. You’re a citizen, but by not belonging to the ruling cliques, you must relegate yourself to the status of a slave-citizen with unquestioning loyalty and servitude to his lordship and his entourage. See no evil, talk no evil even if evil abounds.
The atrocious backwardness of Africa is critically dependent on the egomaniacal avariciousness of Africa’s rulers. To question such a malady is an unwritten crime in the rule books of the vagabonds in power. Power in Africa is deemed absolute no matter the pretenses to democracy. The incumbent is the lord of the manor to whom all must bow and none must question even if the country is sinking.
Nigeria is a sinking ship, but the captain sleeps on and would not have anyone truncate his deep slumber with unnecessary alarm for something to be done to save the ship and its occupants. To wake a sleeping captain in a sinking ship is tantamount to criminal insurrection in the interpretation of the unwritten laws of collective muteness imposed by Nigeria’s ruling cabal.
The country is buffeted on all sides by petrifying insecurity diurnally executed by insurgents, bandits, terrorist herdsmen, kidnappers, and deadly armed robbers. Bishop Hassan Kukah felt someone had to say something to power to provoke action by government to do something better than the current lethargic dispositions, he immediately courted the executive anger of government and its hangers-on.
In a no-holds-barred  2020 Christmas message to the country, Bishop Kukah, in his characterisc intrepidity, outlined the causes of our country’s dilemma to include blatant nepotism, ethnoreligious bigotry and outrageous incompetencies and analysed the predictable values of such anomalies. Bishop Kukah espoused the thinking of most Nigerians because President Buhari’s nepotistic credentials are well-documented and absolutely incontrovertible.
For expressing a frustration that is wholly representative of the opinions of most Nigerians, the Bishop attracted mucky fusilades from political miscreants and the notorious official government mouthpieces. Religious bigots declared him a persona non grata in the North and ordered him to vacate their space with immediate effect. Being blindfolded and utterly myopic by superficial thoughtlessness, they refused to see the patriotic intervention of a man committed to their safety and welfare but chose the destructive path of ethnoreligious stupidity.
There are certain characters in the North who are fond of issuing quit notices to anyone who criticizes the Buhari government or disagrees with the way the country is misgoverned or structured. A particular individual among these folks has resided in Lagos for decades and even pretends to be an activist. Yet he would join his groups in the North to be issuing quit notices to Southerners at the slightest opportunity. Until Nigeria is properly negotiated, it is unsustainable with the current warped structure.
Bishop Kukah was called names by government and its attack dogs. He was essentially mischaracterised by the goons to serve the interests of power subterfuge that has failed woefully in its duty to secure Nigerians but chooses the obnoxious path of defending mass killers. The Buhari presidency has become the chief mouthpiece of the killer herdsmen all over the country. It defends their destructive escapades and gives excuses for their outrageous criminalities at every turn. In Benue State, for instance, when Governor Samuel Ortom could no longer bear the mass killing of his people by killer herdsmen and decided to take action in defence of Benue citizens, he immediately became the president’s enemy and the president told him to be his brothers’ keeper. In other words, the governor was being admonished to accommodate the killers of his people whom he swore to protect. For refusing that admonition, serious attempts were made to impeach him and when that failed, he was frustrated out of the ruling  APC and had to take cover in the PDP to secure reelection because the APC leadership had made up their minds not allow him secure a second-term ticket. He won his reelection.
The same scenario is playing out currently in Ondo state. The Oyo-Osun-Ondo-Ekiti axis has become a fearful den of kidnappers, especially Ondo state. The state governor, Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu, decided to drive the killer herdsmen who have been ravaging his state out of his territory but the Presidency swiftly responded that he lacks the powers to do so and that the killer herdsmen have a right to reside anywhere within the country whether they are law-abiding or not. No land is free and it is unconstitutional for anyone to forcefully take over a large expanse of land for economic or criminal activities, as in this case, without the express consent of the aboriginal owners. Again, the president is telling Governor Akeredolu to accommodate his people’s killers.
To his credit, the president is making attempts to fight Boko Haram and ISWAP, albeit unsuccessfully. But he is doing absolutely nothing about the menace of these killer herdsmen who his government has rendered untouchable. We shouldn’t forget also that president Buhari once said that any attack on Boko Haram would be considered an attack on the North.
Killer herdsmen are privileged terrorists under the Buhari regime.
The president so much venerates them that in 2019 the federal government decided to give the herders’ umbrella association, Miyyeti Allah, One Hundred Billion Naira to support them. But for public outcry, the Buhari government would have given the money to the group. There are unconfirmed rumors that the money was eventually given to them secretly. There is a suggestion that the killer herdsmen have had such a leverage and state protection under this government simply because the president is their life patron. But the same president that gives free roaming rights to the herders to graze their cattle anywhere in the country and destroy farms and displace communities also has many cattle but has a ranch for his own cattle. But rather than encourage these marauding pastoralists to ranch their cattle, his government encourages them to roam around trespassing people’s farms, villages and towns and committing horrific atrocities. There is no excuse strong enough under the sun for any government to allow such to be happening unchecked.
Bishop Kukah didn’t commit any crime by holding a mirror to the faces of Nigeria’s current rulers in order to avail them the opportunity to make amends to their acne-infested faces and save Nigeria from its fatal rush to the precipice of state failure.
He doesn’t deserve the guillotine for that.
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