by Ibrahim Faruk
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Most Rev Mathew Hassan Kukah spoke in an interview with Ankeli Emmanuel on the benefits of profitable engagement, Boko Haram, how the north does not exist in the real sense among other things.
Here are 7 things we learnt and you should know too.
1. The North is an arable ground for agriculture.
Before you say you knew that already, please note that Bishop Kukah wasn’t speaking of groundnut pyramids.
He said: “The north has sown useless seeds that have sprouted and the result is what we are seeing today. Whether you call it Boko Haram, you call it poverty or you call it sickness, it accounts for a clear manifestation of the fact that the north has become associated with the best of poverty.”
2. Northern Nigeria is not involved in profitable engagement
When asked if the end is in sight for the problems of insecurity in Nigeria, the cleric answered, “Everywhere in Nigeria has been bedevilled by one form of crisis or the other. But, at least, in the other regions the people have been involved in what you might, with hindsight, call profitable engagement. Maybe the OPC might say that they benefited because they ended up with a President who was a Yoruba man. The Niger Delta might say they benefited because of where they are today. But none of these organizations benefited by killing their own people or by destroying their own infrastructure or destroying their own religion.”
3. The North does not exist in the real sense.
Kukah, known for speaking without caring whose ox is gored added, “Neither regionalism nor ethnicity or religion by themselves can be a
building material for a great nation. The world is changing. The truth of the matter is that we continue to use the word ‘north’ but geographically, geopolitically and religiously, there is nothing like the north. It does not exist in real terms. States have been created.
“So we are just using these unscientific terms, and again it is evidence of our intellectual laziness because the reality of the situation is that, as a geographical expression, the north has remained on our minds. But, realistically, every governor is taking his cheque and taking it to the state that has been carved out for them – the state with its local government areas.”
Well spoken sir!
4. Votes do not go to church or mosque
Keeping true to fashion, the Bishop minced no words in agreeing that politics overshadows the place of religion.
In his words, “When governors and politicians are running around looking for votes, do they look for Muslims or Christian votes? No! They look for the votes of voters. And if governors and politicians are not prepared to treat Christians and Muslims and even the pagans in any part of this country with the honesty they deserve, we will have to consider withdrawing our support for the process as an act of protest. So there are options; politics is dynamic but our people must learn to use the politics for building the common goal because I do not think that the other part of Nigeria has stolen less or more than the people in the north.”
5. Stop the insurgency. Do right. Stop the lies. Be honest
“…it is painful that while other people have the tendency to develop their region, the north has always the tendency to depend on the state. So, that is why I said it is daybreak and what we have sown is what we are reaping. Therefore, the insurgency is an opportunity for us not to panic but an opportunity for us to be honest by doing the right thing in the region to engage people. We (politicians, leaders and elite) from the north have told too many lies and we lack the political will to carry through some of the things that we continue to promise.”
Forgive me father, for I have sinned… While confessions are very private. We believe the cleric has heard some things that the rest of us haven’t.
6. Politicians are poor creatures
“You know, frankly, we must be fair to politicians: the poor creatures are trying the best they can, maybe their capacity is not enough. There are too many people in politics with limited capacity. Nigeria is the only place where people just come from nowhere to enter politics with no antecedents. Now, elsewhere politics is a function of tutelage. You learn how it is being done. Many Nigerians who are in politics today have never read the Nigerian
In order not to be misunderstood, he added, “all they are interested in and all they know is where to find the money – they couldn’t be bothered about what the constitution says.”
7. We don’t know if we will reach 2015
“My dear, I do not like to talk about it. I’m not interested in 2015 because you and I do not know whether we will reach 2015. We do not know who will be alive to witness 2015. The truth is, 2015 is really not my business and it is politically irresponsible for people to be talking about 2015. There is nothing for us to be so excited about 2015 unless we see the fruits of the promises made. And for someone to suggest that Christians and Muslims should be involved in a dance of death in preparation for 2015 is most irresponsible.”
Is there something us mere mortals do not know?
Back to the real issue, “I could not be bothered about who becomes president of Nigeria. Anybody who is better qualified can be and I am telling you that I do not live in Nigeria as a Christian but as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, the real issue is that the problems of the north will not be resolved by the Presidency going back to the so-called north. If that is the case, and the north has been ruling Nigeria for over 30 years, would we be where we are now? So it is not the question of north or south or wherever they reside in Nigeria or not; it is the question of people who are competent. In addition, whether they reside in the place called northern Nigeria, they are Muslims or Christians – that should not be the issue, because the nonsense of turn by turn is uncalled for. We just want a bit of order and we want to be able to do the things that others have come to take for granted.”