The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, on Sunday said Nigerians were ready to reclaim their country, “as God guides President Muhammadu Buhari in his retirement at the end of his second tenure on May 29, 2023.”
In his 2023 Easter message, made available to newsmen in Abuja, the clergy also told the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that the most urgent task facing Nigeria was not infrastructure or the “usual cheap talk about the dividends of democracy, but the most urgent mission of embarking on the psychological journey of making Nigerians feel whole again and cutting off the chains of ethnicity and religious bigotry and placing the nation on the path to our greatness, of exorcising the ghost of nepotism and religious bigotry.”
Kukah also urged the Supreme Court of Nigeria to remember that they have their conscience and God to answer to as they decide on the cases arising from the 2023 general elections.
According to Bishop Kukah: “As you (President Buhari) prepare to return to Daura or Kaduna, I do not know if you feel fulfilled or that you met the tall dreams and goals you set for yourself such as: ending banditry, defeating corruption, bringing back our girls, belonging to everybody and belonging to nobody, selling off our presidential fleet and traveling with us etc.
“You may have followed my engagement with you through these messages over the years. You publicly referred to me during one of our visits as your number one public critic with a huge smile.
“I commend you for the fact that you have known that none of this was done out of malice but that we want the best for our country.
“May God guide you in retirement while we all embark on the challenge of reclaiming the country we knew before you came.
“I am hopeful that you (President-elect) will appreciate that the most urgent task facing our nation is not infrastructure or the usual cheap talk about dividends of democracy.
“These are important but first, keep us alive because only the living can enjoy infrastructure. For now, the most urgent mission is to start a psychological journey of making Nigerians feel whole again, of creating a large tent of opportunity and hope for us all, of expanding the frontiers of our collective freedom, of cutting off the chains of ethnicity and religious bigotry, of helping us recover from the feeling of collective rape by those who imported the men of darkness that destroyed our country, of recovering our country and placing us on the path to our greatness, of exorcising the ghost of nepotism and religious bigotry.”
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To the Supreme Court judges, Kukah stated: “We are saddened that your sacred temples have been invaded by the political class leaving the toxic fumes that now threaten your reputation as the last hope for all citizens.
“It is sad that your hard earned reputation is undergoing very severe stress and pressure from those who want justice on their own terms. Nigerians are looking up to you to reclaim their trust in you as the interpreters of the spirit of our laws.
“The future of our country is in your hands. You have only your conscience and your God to answer to when you listen to the claims and counter claims of Nigerian lawyers as you decide the future of our country. We pray that God gives you the wisdom to see what is right and the strength of character and conscience to stand by the truth.”
On the outcome of the general election which has continued to generate tension in the land, he stated: “We are all angry and we all want Justice. Yes, we have the right to be angry and we should be angry. But, angry about what, angry with whom and justice for whom? St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the angelic doctor of the Church, said: “He who is not angry when there is a just cause for anger is immoral because anger looks to the good of justice.
“If you can live with injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.” You cannot develop empathy for a victim unless faith enables you to love him/her as a child of God. If we allow injustice in our society while claiming to be believers, then as St. Paul said, we are empty gongs (1 Cor. 13:1).
“Anger is a legitimate emotion and it possesses some curative and even redemptive uses. When motivated by a higher ideal, a higher sense of honour, it transforms into righteous indignation and we are compelled to hold up a sign that says, No, Enough is enough. Anger against injustice and misuse of power is a just cause. That is why Jesus whipped the traders out of the temple (Mt.21:12). The challenge is how we process it and how we focus on its roots. We have to ensure that anger does not hold us, prisoners. In all, our journey is long and winding, exhausting but promising, sorrowful but expectant.
“Whatever may be the nature of the imagined human solution to the problems of violence in our society, the human heart must undergo spiritual circumcision (Rom. 2:28, Gal.5:6, Phil. 3:3). Rather than focus on the scapegoat or the lamb of sacrifice, all of us need to pause and ask if we were participants or guilty bystanders in the violence among us.
“Pope Francis has asked us in his Easter message to “go into our own wounds, to look at the tree of our humiliation, the cross of Jesus, to ensure that our hopes are not sealed in a drawer. In this way, our long-awaited peace can come.”
“Peacemaking is not a specialised subject. It is a gift of God that is within each of us. It is about how we treat one another. This is why the urgent task before us is to restore the dignity of the Nigerian nation and its citizens.
“Nigerians have for too long been beaten by the rain and the sun of injustice. There can be no peace when those who live in glass houses, have mastered the art of throwing stones at those they have kept in the rain and under the scorching sun. Until Lazarus and the rich man can sit around the same table, there can be no just peace or justice (Lk. 16:19-31). Peace is not the absence of war. It is the fruit of justice.”
To the youth of Nigeria, he stated: “I salute your energy and courage. You fought a good fight across party lines. Your engagement and involvement substantially changed the contours of our politics. Things will never be the same again.
“However, the youth do not belong to any single party, no matter the temptation. You must look at the mistakes of the past and avoid them. Note that your actions today will shape tomorrow. Learn the rules of good sportsmanship, no rules, know your roles, know when to fight, what to fight for and know when to walk away so you can embrace other fights. In all, most of you did well, but some of your colleagues lost their lives at the hands of members of your groups. Keep the dreams, but know the contours of the long road ahead.”