From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Trapped in the grips of bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, terrorists groups and other violent crimes, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Matthew Kukah, yesterday, lamented that Nigeria has become a massive killing field with both government and the governed watching helplessly.
In his Easter message, titled, “Before our glory departs,” Kukah preached against the “death of empathy from those in power” saying what President Muhammadu Buhari described as “small fire” at the inception of his administration is now “consuming the country”, lamenting the spate of insecurity in the country under his watch.
Said Kukah: “The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly. A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hangs in the hot air. We have no message and have no idea how long this will last. Our people seek solace and protection, but frustration and darkness threaten to drown them. Is their government on AWOL?”
He also criticised the government of President Buhari for releasing repentant Boko Haram insurgents and investing billions of naira in the rehabilitation of criminals, while neglecting their victims.
“Sadly, human life is haemorrhaging so badly in Nigeria, but the greatest tragedy is the death of empathy from those in power. Mysteriously, the government is investing billions of naira in rehabilitating so-called Boko Haram repentant members and their other partners in crime in the belief that they want to turn a new leaf. These criminals have waged war against Nigeria, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructures and rendered families permanently displaced and dislocated. Why should rehabilitating them be more important than bringing succour to the victims?
“When kidnapped or killed, victims and their families are left to their fate. They cry alone, bury their loved ones alone, and government expects us to be patriotic? The victims of violence need empathy, which the dictionary defines as the ability to understand and share the feelings of other people. A critical deficit of empathy on the side of the government makes healing almost impossible for the victims. We have not heard anything about a rehabilitation programme for the thousands of schoolchildren who have been victims of abduction.
“Their return to school is not sufficient enough. Left unaddressed, the traumatic effect of their horrors will haunt them for a long time. Tomorrow’s parents, military generals, top security men and women, governors, senators, and ministers will come from today’s pool of traumatised children. The security quandary is the greatest indictment of this government.
“When government face legitimacy crises, they fall back on serving the sour broth of propaganda, half-truths, and outright lies. They manufacture consent by creating imaginary enemies, setting citizens against one another by deploying religion, ethnicity, region, and other platforms while appealing to the base emotions of patriotism. We forget the reality that without truth, the throne of power often turns into a cage, and the occupant is turned into a prisoner.
“Day by day, Nigeria drifts irreversibly into a dark tunnel. Things are falling apart with unnerving rapidity because those who govern have only a pact to protect their interests. Politics is merely its conveyor belt of ambition. Nigeria has a date with destiny. If we do not turn around, The axe is already laid to the roots of the tree. With some chance, we might pull through this, but it’s getting tougher each passing day. In all, Nigeria’s troubles are growing by the day, but our hands must remain stretched out in supplication.”
He, thus, appealed to Christians to continue in the spirit of the Gospel, the teachings of Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. “It may sound strange, but for us Christians, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ is the greatest assurance that all these will pass away.