The only difference between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Boko Haram is that Boko Haram is holding a bomb.
That is the gospel according to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
The fiery bishop spoke at a UK non-profit organisation, Aid to the Church in Need, recently.
Kukah pointedly accused the General Muhammadu Buhari-led regime of creating the conditions for terror groups to flourish in Nigeria.
The intervention of Bishop Kukah is crucial as divisive designs are all the rage across the country today.
Pulling together is neither here nor there in higher places and on the lower fronts. It is as though the nation is at war with itself.
Nigerians appear to have totally missed the essence and fallen in love with the accident.
As the Good Book states in the seventh verse of the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
It is incumbent on the government to pursue peace instead of the war-war tenor, Bishop Kukah preaches in line with his nature of forever mending fences.
The art of nipping trouble in the bud can never ever be praised highly enough.
For instance, if the mutual suspicions that led to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo had been stopped in time the First World War would not have happened.
Let’s not embrace the current madness of Trump, USA, Iran and the killing of General Qasem Soleimani.
Nigerian leaders need to emulate Bishop Kukah in striving after peace instead of the unnecessary display of raw power all the time.
A regime emulating Boko Haram can only crash badly, as the Kukah mandate teaches.
The government ought to imbibe the common touch of Kukah which comes with no airs whatsoever.
I can bear witness to that. When my mother died, a cousin of mine close to the bishop, Dr Arthur-Martins Aginam, divulged the news to the revered prelate, and I was shocked out of my skin when my phone rang and the soft voice introduced himself as Bishop Kukah. He gently rendered his consolations, prayers and condolences, and when he was done I felt unimaginable elation.
It is little wonder that everybody wants a piece of Bishop Kukah who the respected Africanist Richard Dowden describes as “Nigeria’s spiritual guide and confessor”.
A prominent Northern Muslim once complained that Kukah should not just be addressed as the “Catholic Bishop of Sokoto” because that title excluded non-Catholics like him!
Even as a Muslim the man stressed that Kukah was his Bishop too!
Given our ethno-religious suspicions in Nigeria, the example of Bishop Kukah should be given pride of place in the country’s scheme of things.
The talk of marginalisation in Nigeria places Bishop Kukah’s homestead of Anchuna in Ikulu chiefdom of Zangon-Kataf Local Government Area, Kaduna State, at the most extreme of the margins.
When he served at the Catholic Secretariat in Lagos, Kukah had cause to celebrate that a second person from his home place had secured a job in Lagos – as a cook!
Even so, he does not bear the badge of marginalisation but continues to work for the growth of a nation where no man or woman would be oppressed or denied justice based on primordial sentiments.
Born on August 31, 1952, Bishop Kukah, ordained a priest on December 19, 1976 packed so much work into his life as though having many lifetimes jammed together as one.
After serving as a member of the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission of the Federal Government of Nigeria, otherwise known as the Oputa Panel, which looked into the many violations in the locust years of military rule, Bishop Kukah authored the epochal book Witness to Justice: An Insider’s Account of Nigeria’s Truth Commission.
In forging the way forward for Nigeria, Bishop Kukah founded The Kukah Centre (TKC), a policy research institute based in Abuja.
Very noteworthy is that a centre founded by a devoted Christian has initiated groundbreaking initiatives toward training the Almajiri on vocations.
That is the way to go. Bishop Kukah is a reason to believe in the workability of the pan-Nigerian project.
The government should behave like Bishop Kukah, and not like Boko Haram!