Matthew Kukah, the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese and erudite social critic, has said no one will gain should Nigeria breaks up.
The fiery clergyman, who has commanded the headlines for his stinging criticism of the president, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd), says despite our differences, there’s a lot that binds us together.
“I don’t think any Nigerian, in his right sense, should pretend nothing binds us together. This 923,768 km² that Lugard gave us binds us together. All of us are now global citizens but I know all of us are still nostalgic about this country. It is not going to remain like this and let none of us be under any illusion that anybody stands to gain anything if this country breaks up, nobody is interested in this country breaking up but the point is that who we were yesterday is no longer who we are today,” he said during a virtual interview with academic and historian, Toyin Falola.
Kukah, who spoke on insecurity, economy and other governmental issues, noted that the government at all levels must provide the enabling environment for citizens to thrive.
The 68-year-old said it is not too much for Nigerians to ask for security, adding that the economic discontentment amongst Nigeria is one of the causes of insecurity in the country.
A former secretary of the Catholic secretariat, Kukah was in January criticised by Muslim groups and some government officials over his message titled: “A Nation in search of vindication” where he accused the Buhari administration of nepotism and gross incompetence.
In the Sunday interview, Kukah also lamented that politicians fall back on clerics when they don’t deliver on the issues of governance but stressed that the Nigerian state must run with a sustainable vision for all to thrive.
He said, “To create a good society, you don’t treat unequal people equally and you don’t treat equal people unequally because if you have a society where just being a woman penalises you, or just belonging to a different religion penalises you or just being of a different social class penalises you, then you don’t have the hope of pulling together the resources, mental ability and otherwise that people have.
“So, for me, in the final analysis, is how do you create an environment where everybody thrives according to their abilities? That is the responsibilities of those who create and manage the state because not everybody is going to be a civil servant, not everybody is looking for a job from government, people just want to be able to do the things they need to do.
“But now, if you have a country where you can’t even do the things you want to do whether you are a government official or a private citizen because of insecurity, because the light is not there, because the roads are not there, then you have a problem. You don’t need a prophet to tell you that that society is breeding and creating discontentment that could manifest itself in violence.”
Continuing, the cleric noted that Nigerians are “terribly angry” over the insecurity in the land, economic hardship, amongst others.
He said, “The challenge is for us to create a conducive environment and this is why I worry about this government because the government has not created a narrative that points in a direction that we should be going. We don’t expect the President to do everything, we are not expecting angels, but it is that a nation has to survive on a vision about where we are going and how we are going to get there. But when you raise this question, people begin to think that you are an enemy of the state or that you are inciting citizens.
“You don’t need to incite anybody in Nigeria because government has created an environment for that development by making loose a bunch of people going around killing everyone. Who do you need to incite? You can only incite the government to take its responsibility to secure our country, it is not too much to ask.”