Introducing Year 2020
That the year 2020 was a monstrosity and abnormality of a nightmare with a hideous visage is no news. It was the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and #EndSars. It was the year the world was literally on a spin, in a macabre spectacle of suspended animation. The year that the world was actually locked down, forcing humanity into a state of limbo. Yes, a year God manifested His awesomeness, omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence, trashing man’s claim to giant strides in science, technology, medicine and communication. 2020 was the year Priests, Pastors and Imams were forced to abandon the churches and mosques. The year opened up cans of worms and exposed governors, ministers and senators who hid the people’s palliatives. The year of total abdication of the classrooms by ASUU.
2020 was the year corruption graduated to a national mantra, virtually adopted by the government as a fundamental objective and directive principle of state policy. Nigeria ranked 148 Out of 180 countries in the world as indexed by transparency international. She carried the odious diadem as the third most corrupt country in West Africa. 2020 showcased Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world, overtaking dear old India. It was the year Trump was trumped by Biden who bound him with ballot. An ugly year of retrenchments and closure of businesses. It was the year of hunger, starvation, squalor.
How Bishop Kukah spoke truth to authority
But I never believed the Buhari’s government could cap it all and end the year by traducing, bullying and attempting to lynch and squeeze the spiritual balls of cassocked Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
What was Kukah’s offence? That he wrote his 2020 Christmas message titled “The Middle Grounds of Optimism have continued to Shift and Many Genuinely Ask, What have We Done to the gods? Does Nigeria have a Future?” In this message, the cleric x-rayed the ills of the Nigerian state, from Chibok, through Dapchi, to Kankara. He saw the year as one of the “Annus Horribilis” (the Year of Horror); rather than one of “Annus Mirabilis” (the Year of Joy). What was Kukah’s offence here? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
Combing through the odious breadth and depth of a decaying nation, the flaming pulpit terror of bad governments believes our commonwealth has been stolen; with enough hate and bitterness to generously go around. Kukah insists our dreams have been aborted; our “cancer of corruption metastasized”; and all of us, guilty of patricide, fraticide, even attempted suicide [I disagree; there were actually tens of suicide cases]. He says we are hungry, angry, thirsty, and starving. He believes we appear sedated and inured to pain; tragedy standing as a gatekeeper; with each Christmas bringing its dark ball of horror, sorrow and death, in the last 10 years. Where did Kukah go wrong here? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
Kukah believes our country is drifting rudderlessly, with Nigerians traveling without maps, without destination, and with neither captain nor crew. The bishop looks back to the pre-Buhari era with nostalgia, because, at least, there was food to eat, and people could go to toilet. He laments that at present, “a journey to the toilet is considered by the poor an extra luxury”; and that “our country’s inability to feed itself is one of the most dangerous signs of state failure and a trigger to violence”. What did Kukah say here that was not correct? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
Bishop Kukah notes, very brilliantly, that the experience of Northern Nigeria is evidence that nepotism (Buhari’s greatest “achievement”) is a counterfeit currency. Bemoaning Pastor Femi Adesina’s tag on Nigerians who are complaining about his boss’s bad government as “wailers”, Kukah agrees, derisively and mockingly, that Adesina was right, because, “on the sad situation in Nigeria, the United Nations has wailed. The Pope has wailed. Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Pastors have wailed. Emirs have wailed. Politicians have wailed. The Sultan has wailed. Surely, it is time for the Lord to hear the wailers as they have sung their redemption song”. Where did Kukah go wrong here? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
For these take-away truthful nuggets words on marble, Aso Villa became restless. They asked for the head of this man of God; this poor, wifeless, childless and houseless labourer in the Lord’s vineyard, whose pen is mightier than the sword; whose pulpit words seemlessly break chains of terror, despotism, absolutism and fascism into smithereens.
But, wait for it. It was perhaps the following paragraph of Kukah’s Christmas message that got the Aso Villa hawks and their media hirelings hopping, shouting, screaming and baying for Kukah’s spiritual blood, accusing him falsely of calling for a coup d’état. He wrote in paragraph 6 of his intellectual treatise, titled “A nation in search of vindication”:
“This government owes the nation an explanation as to where it is headed as we seem to journey into darkness. The spilling of this blood must be related to a more sinister plot that is beyond our comprehension. Are we going to remain hogtied by these evil men or are they gradually becoming part of a larger plot to seal the fate of our country?
“President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second class status. He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion. Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war. The President may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions. He may be right and we Christians cannot feel sorry that we have no pool of violence to draw from or threaten our country. However, God does not sleep. We can see from the inexplicable dilemma of his North.”
Was Bishop Kukah right or wrong?
Where did Bishop Kukah go wrong here? I cannot see it. Or, can you? The government is simply going after the messenger, rather than the message. Kukah has not said anything new. He is simply bold and courageous to reiterate the obvious truth. Was it not Uthman Dan Fodiyo that once said, “Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it”? It is simply Bishop Kukah’s exalted status and the across-the-board respect and acceptance commanded by Kukah that frightens the schizophrenic, delusionary and paranoid anti-people government. Did the nation not quake under the threat of the baboons being “soaked in their own blood”? Was President Jonathan not warned at a time to stop killing Boko Haram insurgents, because it amounted to killing northern Muslims? Check your Google!
There is nothing said about this Buhari government by Kukah that is not founded on truth, data, figures and a terra firma. Is it the cluelessness, compasslessness, compassionlessness, and insensitivity of the government to the plight of the Nigerian people? Is it the ascending corruption that now struts about like a proud peacock and where recovered loot is being incrementally re-looted? Is it the ravaging poverty that has reduced many Nigerians to vassals and slaves feeding from dustbins? Is it the glaring insecurity that has since geometrically graduated and multiplied from only Boko Haram to bandits, blood-letting herdsmen, vicious kidnappings, gruesome murders and “otokotoism”, rendering our homes, highways, footpaths, markets, churches, mosques and farms very unsafe and endangered?
Is it the near psychopathic inebriation with northern hegemony, cronyism, prebendalism, sectionalism, tribalism and favouritism we see daily in this government’s appointments into the commanding heights of our national life? Is it the clear orchestration of divisiveness, ethno-religious crisis, gender decimation, and intolerance of opposition, plurality of voices and dissenting opinions? Is it the submerging of Nigeria into a second recession, and gradual killing of the naira, humbling it to about N480 to just one dollar? Is it the large-scale hunger, penury, melancholy, tears, fear, sorrow, pains, pangs, blood, hopelessness and haplessness that have since engulfed Nigeria? Is it the decimation of the middle class; the enthronement of northern supremacy and government’s lack of accountability and transparency in governance? Where has Bishop Kukah gone off track? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
Bishop Kukah didn’t just start today
Bishop Kukah has so far served as one of the very few surviving consciences of the nation. He has been a compass with which the nation’s direction or lack of it is read. He serves as a thermometer to measure the ever-rising temperature of beleaguered Nigeria. Kukah represents the sphygmomanometer with which Nigeria’s high or low blood pressure is constantly measured to avoid national heart attack and artery bursting. The following are few of his earlier interventions:
In my article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper of 2nd August, 2020, titled “NOW, WHO WILL COMFORT BISHOP KUKAH?”, on the passage of Bishop Kukah’s mother, I had written, interalia, as follows:
“Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, that fiery cleric, social critic, rights activist and intellectual prodigy on the pulpit, lost his mother in July. I had condoled with him by SMS and WhatsApp message when his number was not going through. But, I kept on asking myself one question: “who will comfort Bishop Kukah?” This question is relevant, considering the fact that this charismatic, fecund and former Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat and current Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese (born 31st August, 1952), has over the years comforted thousands (perhaps, millions) of people, who lost their loved ones. Bishop Kukah has preached at many gravesides, delivered hundreds of funeral homilies, delivered oceans of comfort to bereaved families, and recited the holy rosary times without number. All to comfort people. Kukah was Secretary to the Oputa Panel that investigated human rights violations during the military (1999 – 2001). He also served as secretary to the 2005 National Political Reform Conference. Now, who will comfort Kukah? Only God.”
Thought for the week
“It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
(Hubert H. Humphrey)