In his Christmas message of December 25, 2021, titled A NATION STILL IN SEARCH OF TRUTH & VINDICATION, scholar and priest Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto has amplified in remarkable ways and directness the dangerous implications of the evident insecurity failings of Nigeria’s leader, retired General Muhammadu Buhari. Houston-based USAfrica magazine and USAfricaonline.com pull major excerpts from his assessment of critical events in the northern Nigeria and other parts of Nigeria.
He points to the fact that “A catalogue of unprecedented cruelty has been unleashed on innocent citizens across the northern states. In their sleep, on their farmlands, in their markets, or even on the highway, innocent citizens have been mowed down and turned into burnt offerings to gods of evil.
Communities have been turned into gulags of misery, death, pain and perfidy. We must move quickly before Arewa, our beloved Arewa, descends into ‘Arewanistan.’” The latter being a comparison to the ugly events in Afghanistan.
On President Buhari’s failure to tackle the problem of insecurity, Kukah pointedly argued that “Tales and promises about planned rescues have since deteriorated into mere whispers. Nothing expresses the powerlessness of the families like the silence of State at the federal level. Today, after over seven years, our over one hundred Chibok Girls are still marooned in the ocean of uncertainty. Over three years after, Leah Sharibu is still unaccounted for. Students of the Federal Government College, Yauri, and children from Islamiyya School, Katsina, are still in captivity. This does not include hundreds of other children whose captures were less dramatic.”
Kukah lamented that the killings and kidnappings across Nigeria amount to a moral scar which brings shame “on our face and cannot be wished away”.
He charged President Buhari’s government of being “totally oblivious to the cherished values of the sacredness of life”. He reflected on his message from 2020: “At about this time last year when I raised the alarm about the perilous state of affairs in northern Nigeria, all kinds of accusations were levelled against me especially by my northern brethren. When the Catholic Bishops protested openly against the killings of our people in March 2020, we were accused of acting against government with religious motives being imputed to our noble intentions. Now, we are fully in the grip of evil.
Today, a feeling of vindication only saddens me as I have watched the north break into a cacophony of quarrelsome blame games over our tragic situation.”
To provide context to the issue, he reminds everyone that “We also have lost count of hundreds of individuals and families who have been kidnapped and live below the radar of publicity. We have before us a government totally oblivious to the cherished values of the sacredness of life.”
He condemned the Buhari government’s inadequate response: “The silence of the federal government only feeds the ugly beast of complicity in the deeds of these evil people who have suspended the future of entire generations of our children. Every day, we hear of failure of intelligence, yet, those experts who provide intelligence claim that they have always done their duty diligently and efficiently. Does the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria not believe that he owes parents and citizens answers as to where our children are and when they are coming home? Does the President of Nigeria not owe us an explanation and answers as to when the abductions, kidnappings, brutality, senseless, and endless massacres of our citizens will end? When will our refugees from Cameroon, Chad or Niger return home? We need urgent answers to these questions…. We have borne enough humiliation as communities and a country.”
He took a long view of the climactic and environmental problems facing the most populated country in Africa: “Nigerians have continued to ignore the existential threats posed by the environmental disaster that we face.
Nigeria established an Ecological Fund way back in 1981 while the Obasanjo administration set up the Ministry for Environment in 1999.
We have heard of plans, projects, huge budgets to resolve the threats to our environment.
Air and water pollution, waste management, deforestation, desertification, erosion, and flooding, continue to threaten Agriculture, Aquaculture and the welfare of citizens despite all these grand plans.
Over time, we have seen long, good promises caught in the web of bureaucratic fraud…. There is an urgent need to reverse the effect of our sins against the Niger Delta and to quickly embark on local and national initiatives to ensure the future by full environmental restoration.”
Bishop Kukah warned that “We cannot afford to continue with the reckless pollution of our environment that is destroying aquatic, terrestrial, and human lives. The clock is ticking.”