When His Lordship, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, spoke on Christmas Day, he did so from the pulpit. The platform on which he perched was not just elevated, his message resonated with political guidance. It had a moral force behind it. Kukah came away as the true preacher that he is. But beyond the raised platform from where the preacher delivers his message, the pulpit stands above the surrounding floor for reasons of audibility and visibility. Following in this tradition, Kukah’s message was both audible and visible. It was heard in far and near places. The preacher was not just visible, his message tore through the dark recesses of the blighted star inhabited by Nigerians. To this extent, the pulpit, actually and symbolically, has served its purpose.
To drive home his point, Kukah, in a period of less than two weeks, had to repeat himself. His Christmas Day homily was a no-holds-barred denunciation of what the President Muhammadu Buhari administration stands for. He said it as it is. Some dyed-in-the-wool apologists of the Buhari order have since taken him on. They feel that he dared to step in where others have always feared to tread. But the cleric does not seem to be perturbed by such misgivings. If anything, the criticisms have reinforced his convictions. Thus, rather than seek escape in doublespeak, the Bishop has found an avenue to deepen his message. Rather than recant, he has taken out time to educate his traducers a little bit on what the role of the cleric is in society. It is on the strength of this conviction that, days later, he had cause again to express disappointment with the present order. He insists that Nigeria has become a hoax, a lie and a huge wasteland. The man of God was driven by truth. He spoke out of conviction. He was fired by disappointment. He could not live the lie represented by the government of the day. Unlike many in his shoes, he refused to play the ostrich. He preferred to stay with the truth, regardless of the bitterness that goes with it.
But, if he is being harangued and threatened for speaking out, it is not because he said what nobody in this country has never said before. It is because the truth he fired came from unexpected quarters. Most clerics, unlike Kukah, are in the habit of papering over burning national questions. Some of them strive, most unduly, to sound correct and acceptable. They do not want to rock the boat. They are scared stiff of igniting sentiments that could offend the religious sensibilities of those whose lack of conscience is driving the country to the precipice. Rather than stop the devil in his track, they romance him into believing that he is treading the right path.
As I have just hinted, Kukah, strictly speaking, did not say anything new. Most commentators on the Nigerian condition have, before now, echoed those sentiments time and time again. They have had to repeat themselves ad nauseam. Things never changed for good regardless of their outcry. Rather, the Nigerian condition has continued to nosedive. Of course, we know that it can be very discomfiting to continue to repeat oneself over a situation that has refused to get better. But that has been the unenviable lot of some of us who, week in , week out, are condemned to lamenting over the Nigerian condition. We are condemned to an interminable Sisyphean situation where you keep repeating your role without anything changing. This makes Nigeria the commentator’s nightmare. The more he seeks change, the more things remain the same.
Before the present order, the commentator on the Nigerian situation had something to console him. The authorities whose actions he interrogated had some modicum of regard for his views. They responded to his disputations, more often than not, by striving to do things differently, even if their efforts ended up changing nothing.
Regrettably, the Buhari order relishes in its misdeeds. It does not even accept that misconduct is part of its make-up. It wallows in self-righteousness to the point of irritation. The government, nearly six years after, is still crooning in borrowed plumes. It has not established its own identity let alone accepting responsibility for its actions. Whenever the people complain about what it is not doing right, it will quickly escape into the world of comparison. It is always quick to retort that the Goodluck Jonathan order was worse than what we are complaining about. That is escapism of the worst order. A government that will never stop to blame its incompetence on the old order is not only confused, it is not ready to be held accountable for its actions. When then will this government grow up? When will it overcome this debilitating infantilism?
Serious-minded Nigerians know that it is a waste of valuable time and energy to compare our present condition with what used to be. They know that they have never had it so bad. They know that this is the worst era in the history of this country. Like Kukah, most Nigerians are wondering where the present spate of bloodletting will take the country to. What does the government want to achieve with the state of insecurity in the land? Many believe that the situation goes beyond incompetence. It smacks of duplicity and complicity. What could be the true intent of this brutishness that government is inflicting on the people?
It is lamentable that Nigerians can no longer move freely. The North-East has been seized by insurgency. We no longer count the number of lives that we lose on hourly basis on account of this. Venturing into some highways in the country, like that of Abuja to Kaduna, has become as risky as venturing into the lion’s den. The entire north of the country now approximates to the Hobbesian State of Nature. Bandits are making life there nasty, brutish and short. If you thought that the advent of government has rendered Thomas Hobbes’ theoretical construct irrelevant in the modern age, you would be utterly wrong. Northern Nigeria has regressed into that state. Then you begin to wonder what government exists for, if it cannot pull the people out of this insecure state.
Whereas the rest of the world is busy thinking about how to improve their environment for the good of the citizenry, Nigeria under Buhari is busy unleashing armed herdsmen on communities in the South and Middle Belt of the country. Needless to say, that they kill and maim with reckless abandon. There is usually no consequence for their actions. The state, which is supposed to go after the criminals, protects them instead. Helpless victims of this criminality have no one to cry to. Their oppressors mock them in the open. They are emboldened by the fact that they are a law unto themselves. Nigerians never experienced this, until the advent of the Buhari order. This makes Nigeria of today a jungle.
It is the misrule of the present order that has led to the outcry over restructuring. Under Buhari, the North, led by the Fulani, is riding roughshod over the rest of the country. A new form of colonialism appears to be in the making. A country that went through the troubles and trials of a civil war and has managed to survive the experience has suddenly regressed. We appear to have just come out of a fresh war of attrition where the victor is insisting on going home with the spoils of war. There is no doubt that a government that promotes this state of affairs has a sinister agenda. It does not mean well for the country.