It’s without surprise that Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, the renown cleric of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto State has been caught in a blizzard of ferocious criticism for pillaging President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade. While the cloud of corruption is seemingly wearing itself out, expiring like the flame of an expanded candle which sputters and dies, Bishop Kukah has been caught in a macabre gesture, inciting an abandonment of the process.
It’s anticlimactic. Nigerians are wont to see their corrupt tormentors behind prison walls after they have turn in the stolen money. The despair of the poverty stricken Nigerians, their repose of confidence in Buhari government, and the very squalor state of degradation of the Nigerian state should have stirred Bishop Kukah to thought. Since he assumed office, President Buhari has been scrambling intermittently to extinguish corruption firestorm ignited by President Goodluck Jonathan and others before him in a manner never seen in Nigeria, much less Africa.
The National Peace Committee, NPC, headed by the former Military Head of State retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and other members like the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, National President of C.A.N, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Bishop Hassan Kukah and a host of others have an agenda different to the one Nigerians profess at the presidential poll on March 28, this year.
Up till now Abdulsalami Abubakar has not come clear on the allegation that he was involved in the $182 million Halliburton bribery scandal that indicted him. Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar has not come up to clear his name on the allegation that he prevailed on Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives to abandon corruption probe against Ms. Diezani Allison Maduake. Ayo Oritsejafor could not convinced Nigerians that the $9 million smuggled in his private aircraft into South Africa by President Goodluck Jonathan government in the name of arms deal was not money laundry.
Neither has Mr. John Onaiyekan nor Bishop Kukah told Nigerians how much they got from President Jonathan’s dollars rain that was splashed on Nigeria fake clerics like them, a few days to the poll, who deceived him into believing that he would win back a second term in Aso Rock. The NPC blackmail is that it prevailed on President Goodluck Jonathan to accept defeat at the polls and that there would have been bloodshed without their intervention. Hogwash! Can they tell us how many innocent lives are being wasted on a daily basis under President Jonathan administration?
We have been here before. In 1983, some clergy men, business concerns and some members of the Ulama were used to campaign against President Buhari’s unbending military junta. They said he was mean, stiff, uncompromising and that they were losing their businesses and started the hoarding of goods. And then, famine began as people bought food stuff at very exorbitant prices. Business professionals, oil barons were conscripted and used to fight and ousted him. Under IBB government, corruption became the air Nigerians breath. Now, they have manifested again. Abdulsalam Abubakar is representing the military, the Ulama is being represented in the person of the Sultan of Sokoto, Oritsejafor, Reverend Bishop Kukah, John Onaiyekan and other renegades are waging destruction war on the people and the nation, once more.
President Buhari’s approach to retrieving the stolen public till and his ruthless outspokenness against the cancerous corruption didn’t seem to impress the controversial NPC, headed by the former head of state, General Abdulsalam. Known for his unguarded disparaging comments against Mr. Buhari and his passionate support for former President Goodluck Jonathan, the picture has become clearer why Biship Kukah will stop at nothing to keep pressuring President Buhari to put and end to the probe.
Speaking on behalf of the pro-corruption brigade that the National Peace Committee, NPC, has became, Bishop Kukah brought reproach to bear on President Buhari’s anticorruption efforts. He didn’t believe retrieving looted resources and putting an end to a degeneration that has become a national culture and lifestyle, driven by official impunity should be appluaded.
Standing unyieldingly between the people and the corrupt political elite, Bishop Kukah uttered this infamous and patronising lines: “I will advise that rather than chasing the ‘thieves’, the president-elect should address the issues of the misery and squalor that have become Nigeria’s lot, as development will raise the best army to fight corruption.
Bishop Kukah wasn’t done yet: “There is no such thing as probe in a democratic setting like ours. What obtains is investigation, and once people lead and things are not right, investigation becomes necessary. However, in doing that we must never be distracted from the spectacular actions undertaken by former President Jonathan. He is an individual. I think this whole thing about probe can be ascertained once investigations are concluded. But we are saying that a lot of talk and speculation about this probe are distractions nobody needs. So the most important thing is that we need a stable country first before we can talk about these things. And they will have happened down the line…”
The eccentric Bishop sermonised in his most garrulous fashion: “His (President Muhammadu Buhari) challenge lies in how he responds to the perceived interpretations of his victory, especially within the various institutions, networks and interest groups, especially in the northern part of the country…” “I think what we are concerned about is the process. It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws, everybody is innocent until proven guilty.”
Bishop Kukah further betrayed his episcopal calling and the stance of the head of Catholicism, Pope Francis whose preoccupation has been using the pulpit to elevate the ‘wretched of the earth’: “Again, our commitment is not to intimidate or fight anybody, the former President’s commitment and what he did still remains spectacular, and I think that President Buhari himself appreciates that. So our effort really is to make sure that the right thing is done. “President Buhari has to start governing and leave his anti-graft war on the back burner “If Buhari insists on his probes, who is to say he wont be the victim of a probe himself when he leaves office?
“When will the cycle of probes end and that of governance begin?” Bishop Kukah echoes the same line on SaharaTV in an interview saying, “The stick that they (Buhari and the APC) are using to whip Jonathan may be the stick they will use to whip Buhari tomorrow”. I am at a lost as to why Kukah prefers former president Jonathan’s comfort than the well-being of Nigerians. Where was Bishop Kukah when Jonathan government swindled six million Nigerians jobless youths of a thousand naira each; amounting to N6 billion, massed them up in all the 37 stadia across the country and stampeded to death along with pregnant women for a non-existent immigration job?
The 63 years old Bishop’s hedgehog defence in favour of corruption made him an impudent slime. Though, he graduated with Bachelor of Divinity from the Urban University of Rome, as well as a Master’s degree in Peace Studies, which he obtained from University of Bradford, UK and, went ahead to have a PhD from University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, yet he remains a despicably servile cleric to every morally bankrupt government in power. He did it to former President Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and then, Jonathan.
What peace, if we may ask, is the National Peace Committee pursuing? Can there be peace without justice? Is it the peace of the looters or the masses that have been bled? Are they interested in encouraging the feedom of the common man or NPC is just a merest of group established to suppress the nation and the people’s plight? Are they unmindful of the fact that as a result of corruption, hundreds of thousands of innocent have been killed by Boko Haram in the north? Do they know that as a result of corruption that there are no drugs in our hospitals and schools across the country are worst than pig arks?
Certainly, there are senseless killings, lawlessness, breakdown of law and order as a result of corruption. People are dying on a daily basis in their thousands on our bad roads; the potholes remained unfixed a result of corruption, evil people where, smugglers and invaders are washing into the country with all sorts of arms. Cultists and drugs addicts are destroying the country, yet these are not enough to cut NPC and Bishop Kukah’s attention.
To say Bishop Kukah has walked down the slope of spiritual bankruptcy to its lowest depth is to state the obvious. He has lost the chance to free himself from all the entrapments of materialism and fail to ascends into eternal and national immortality. The tense little man and twitterpated cleric prefers to entangle himself in the self-debasing schism of political corruption. We can only hope and pray that the political Bishop reinvents himself or goes into the hall of infamy like former president Goodluck Jonathan and his co-travellers.
Erasmus Ikhide writes in from Lagos, Nigeria
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