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“Why did the government decide to ridicule itself by misquoting and telling such lies about a speech that is an open document? Is it not a fact that one religion and section of the country dominate the military, police, and paramilitary agencies? Is it not a fact that the leadership of the arms of government is skewed in favor of one religion and a section of the country? Is it not a fact that religion and clannishness are the highest qualifications and denominators insensitive appointment by this government?”

The recent virtual address delivered to the US Congress in Washington by Nigeria’s revered cleric, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, has as usual provoked a puerile and hypocritical response by the presidency of President Muhammadu Buhari. This was not the first, second, or the third, and of course, as long as the situation remains dark, it would certainly not be the last. Kukah, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Nigeria, told his audience about the existential threats Nigerians face under the present administration and the obvious inability, lack of political will, and insincerity of the government in handling the bloody crises that keep claiming innocent lives daily.

As the cleric rightly admitted, the present government inherited the problem but it has not done enough to convince the citizens who voted him into power that he is on the right track in its effort at solving the problem. Rather, many believe that the government is tacitly supporting the development for an evil motive. Nigeria has been bedeviled with insurgency, banditry, herdsmen versus farmers’ clashes, kidnapping, and mass abductions of school children, especially in the Northern parts of the country. These and more the government did not deny. The problem the Buhari administration has with Kukah’s presentation is the fact that he told the Congressmen and women what they already know, and that is the fact that, Nigeria is in her darkest hour in its contemporary history. Didn’t Kukah admit the fact that “in all of this.. It is not as if Muslims are having a better deal because more Muslims have been killed as a result of the crisis that we are in than other Christians”.

Didn’t he admit the fact and called for international support for the ten million out-of-school children who are mostly Muslim children in the North? This is what Garba Shehu, a senior special assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, described as “unimaginative opposition” and that “a so-called man of the Church” who “copies the worst excesses of those seeking personal advancement in public office”. This is the lowest moral abyss this government could ever go in such an attack against a world-class noble cleric. The government added the lie that, “Only this government has put forward the first and singular plan in nearly a century to address herder-farmer challenges – a fact recognized by international NGOs, including the International Crisis Group. To declare to a foreign audience that this government does nothing is an incredible falsehood”. Where? How? It is so duplicitous of this government to preach the opposite of what it practices: “As a nation and a people, we must together define evil as evil. We must not allow our religious differences to divide us. No one gains but the evildoers when we divide our ranks according to ethnicity and religion in confronting them. The bandit, kidnapper, and terrorist are the enemies of the people who should be confronted in unison”.

Why did the government decide to ridicule itself by misquoting and telling such lies about a speech that is an open document? Is it not a fact that one religion and section of the country dominate the military, police, and paramilitary agencies? Is it not a fact that the leadership of the arms of government is skewed in favor of one religion and a section of the country? Is it not a fact that religion and clannishness are the highest qualifications and denominators of insensitive appointment by this government? The only thing that heals national wounds such as is currently hurting and has plagued our country today is nothing but truth, fairness, and justice. Unfortunately, the present government appears far removed from this unassailable reality. Unless the government embraces this truth, our country can never come out of its present political, economic and social darkness.


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