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BY: John Akoji Adama

Information filtering in has it that Kogi State government temporarily relocated government activities to an hotel within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for a cabinet brain storm on arrays of issues — ranging from the glaring slow pace of developmental activities (despite huge resource investment and the augmentation from accruals), unpopular government programs, crass insecurity, intra-party squabbles cum the natural sonorous opposition campaign against the government of the day, among other crying concerns.

Before going into the kernel of the limitations mitigating against the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello, it would be a point of interest to refresh our memories on how the man emerged as an imposed replacement for Alhaji Prince Abubakar Audu, of blessed memory.

It was held against Yahaya Bello that he resisted all appeals to collapse his campaign tructure into the unified structure of the winner of the primary election at which he, Yahaya Bello, came far second.

He declined all frantic and genuine reconciliation efforts by the party executives, opinion moulders, leaders of thought at all levels and the NWC of APC to resolve the greavance and acrimony that preceded the primary election — a display that caused for every rational thought to believe that Bello’s strange actions after his defeat at the primaries was stamped on the fact of his celestial assurances of a ‘done deal’ because his subsequent assertions and claims were without recourse to any known laws or logic in both the party’s constitution and our national electoral laws. His campaign strategist Edward Onoja and his lieutenants were bragging and boosting that the mandate was theirs and that whoever would come forward as a competitor was just wasting his time. They deployed all propaganda mercenary with spurous allegations against the bona fide winner, Prince Audu, but all of which efforts proved futile.

Bello, in his desperation to become the party’s candidate at all cost, levelled a court case against Abubakar Audu who is the party’s gubernatorial candidate. He alleged that Audu, who is on the Board of Trustees of the party, cannot be qualified to fly the party’s ticket without first relinquishing his membership of the board, an action which all critical onlookers saw as an after-thought and ridiculous.

Yahaya Bello, having failed all round and still hell-bent in making sure his party would fail in the general election resorted to negotiation with the incumbent Captain Idris Wada, who, upon the agreement of their teams, equipped him against his party in the election proper, hence the defeat of APC in Yahaya Bello’s Okene home even though, he himself could not exercise his civic duty as he did not have a voter’s card!

Turn around point: Alhaji Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC flag bearer, was the first and the second Executive Governor of Kogi State. In the state, before his ill-timed demise, Audu was seen as the only governor with an unbeatable track record of development; he was a consummate leader with a passion for innovative programmes for capacity building and empowerment with a view to quality livelihood for all and the rapid structural development of his dear domain.

He was consistent in his opposition party until they merged to form APC, which is the ruling party in Nigeria’s present political dispensation.

Audu won the 2015 election but never realized it, as he was snatched away by the cold hands of death. The news of his sudden departure to eternity while electoral processes were still on-going raised novel issues in our legal framework and created a vacuum in the candidacy of APC. The situation, which simply required expert interpretation from the supreme court to resolve was shamefully assumed by the independent or, better still, undependable electoral body (INEC) which, in their sentimental incarceration, aligned with the powers that be — and

and the party in power whose winning candidate died to invoke a discretionary resolution of “vote-appropriation and imposition of candidate” in a way and manner that would not put their spot….

Yahaya Bello, who apparently did not participate in the campaign nor made any financial contribution to the party during the campaign in anyway or form, became the beautiful bride for the widower county’s wedding.

The choice of Yahaya Bello as a replacement was outrightly rejected by the state party leadership and other interest groups across the state; these described the action of the APC national body as an aberration to the valiant party men and women who brought the party to victory. It came as a rude shock to others while the eastern flank of the state with the majority vowed never to work with ‘a stranger’.

Some aggrieved party members as well as opposition PDP went to court to seek redress if it was enshrined in our laws for votes of a dead man to be inherited or appropriated to another person who never participated legally in the associated election.

Futhermore, the puported adoption of Yahaya Bello in the stead of Audi’s joint ticket-holder (James Faleke) was as insensitive as it was unlawful. Under normal democratic circumstances, where politics is founded on morality, strength of numbers and acceptability, the dead man’s associate (running mate) should be bestowed “offer of first refusal”. And this is the position of even the party’s western flank in the state, where Honourable James Faleke hails from! The people’s agitation was “We can’t keep hope on nothing”.

Honorable Faleke’s association with Audu on the same platform was never a liability but an asset. They traversed lengths and breaths, days and nights canvassing for vote with huge resources and logistics to make sure they defeated the incumbent Captain Idris Wada in his second term bid….. it was perceived in their lamentations that the party called APC was still in the claws or inclination of primordial Northern political sentiments. Otherwise, why would a defeated aspirant at the primaries who later crossed over to another party, worked against the party and, above all, was not qualified in any ramification, be the best choice for replacement?

Little wonder then that Alhaji Bello, the executive governor of Kogi State, the party’s best for the plume job has not been able to unveil his blueprint on development plan almost two calendar years in office! When he came on board, there were mixed feelings amongst youngsters across the state: to many among this critical sector of the populace, what transpired was a paradigm shift, while others felt a change was needed but that his emergence was undemocratic and, as such, would cause political turmoil in the state.

The government of Yahaya Bello is generally adjudged the weakest with little or no people-oriented project amidst huge resources. Close allies of the government vituperate their misgivings as intellectually endowed persons are not allowed to go near the Governor or have input in the business of governance by the iconoclastic and arrogant Chief of Staff; though the business of the state as a government is reduced to a kindergarten play stage but, we appreciate the timely intervention of the Nigerian foremost anti-graft agency in our dear state to check the cleptomanic nature of those in custody of our funds.

Pathetically, Kogi civil servants and pensioners are being dehumanized daily as they are reduced to inevitable starvation! Sicknesses and deceases have ravaged families as the aged pensioners could no longer cater for their medical bills, food, etc.

In conclusion,
I salute the rare courage of TUC/NLC for their resilience and continuous pressure on the government to do the right thing. Needless to remind us of the incessant but vain staff screening exercise which, according to the mischief maker, is aimed at ascertaining the genuine staff strenght and actual wage bill to enable the state plan.
The implication of this unending exercise is negative on the productivity of the state as it is technically edging to insolvency.

Kogi State is embroidered with a juvenile-leadership deliquency and, if not rescued at this time, then she is heading for a collapse.

God save us and bless Kogi State.

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Kukah: Cancel “Fatwa” on Cleric’s head immediately – Ozekhome, SAN




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Kukah: Cancel “Fatwa” on Cleric’s head immediately – Ozekhome, SAN

By Mike Ozekhome,SAN

“Fatwa” is an Islamic religious Decree issued by the Ulama. A death fatwa calls for the head of a person.

The “Ulama” is a body of Muslim scholars who are recognised as possessing specialist knowledge of Islamic laws and theology.I am compelled today to make a second outing on Bishop Mathew Kukah’s Christmas homily, and call for those beating the drums of war to immediately STOP.

The last time I checked, the secularity of Nigeria has been guaranteed by section 10 of the 1999 Constitution. What is Bishop Kukah’s offence that some rabidly misguided, intolerant and ethno-religiously bigoted individuals styling themselves as Muslims are calling for Kukah’s head.

When did criticizing President Buhari or government become treason such as to provoke some people taking the laws into their hands?

Read Also:  Nigeria at 60: Nation of woes and ‘The Shehu Sani’s elusive solution’

When, why, how and where did we lose our humanity, brotherhood, friendship, mutual respect and tolerance? When Nigerians, in a hotly disputed election (that was all but free, fair, transparent and credible) re-elected President Buhari in February, 2019, I didn’t recall it was only Northerners or Muslems that voted for him.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

They did not, could not have, and were never able to enthrone Buhari alone. It took Southern Nigeria’s Intervention (especially the Christianlydominated Southwest) to make Buhari president after his serial and dismal failures in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

So, why are a particular religion and a section of the country suddenly appropriating (or better still, misappropriating) the President to themselves as a sectional, ethno-religious warlord that is immune from criticism by the very people he governs?

Is this not the same government that periodically welcomes, embraces and cuddles Rev. Father Mbaka (of the same Catholic Christian faith with Bishop Kukah) as a friend, brother, idol, prayer warrior and religious mentor, simply because he preaches in favour of the same Buhari government in his Adoration Ministry grounds in Enugu?

Do these fatwawielding people not always embrace Mbaka for being on the side of Buhari and his inept colourless regime?

What kind of government and cult-deity-worshippers of double standards, duplicity, intolerance, tribalism, ethno-centrism, nepotism, prebendalism, impunity, favouritism, insecurity, upgraded corruption, decimation of citizens’ rights, subjugation of rule of law, liberties and court orders, vindictiveness, brutality, insensitivity, tears, sorrow, blood, pains and pangs, are these? Make no mistake about this:


When did criticising Buhari and his non-performing government of opaqueness, non-inclusiveness, serial borrowings and second recession become an attack on Islam or Muslems?

Do these people credit Nigerians with brains and a sense of history at all? That the fatwa on, and quit notice to Kukah by the Muslim Solidarity Forum was authored by one Isa Muhammad Maishanu, a Professor, makes the threat more damaging, odious, disgusting and highly unexpected and unacceptable.

What did Kukah say in his Christmas message that these government bootlickers and fawners masquerading under religion have found difficult to catch any sleep over since then? They said he called for a coup. How?

Kukah merely accused the President of nepotism and other governance infractions in his Christmas message. He said if Buhari had been a Southerner and a non-Muslim, and such a ruler had done a quarter of what Buhari had done as President, there would have been a coup. True or false? What did President Goodluck “my ambition is not worth the drop of blood of any Nigerian” Jonathan do wrong that he was pelted with stones and literally hounded out of power?

For speaking truth to authority (conscience is an open wound; only the truth can heal it – Uthman Dan Fodio),

Kukah was accused by Lai Muhammed (Minister of Information) of attempting to stoke the “embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity”.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) joined the fray, by terming Kukah’s honest and refreshingly invigorating Christmas message as “reckless, inflammatory and unguarded”. Was it really? NO! Except for those with thin skin for criticism. It is now the turn of the Muslim Solidarity Forum (MSF) to take the threats a notch higher, by declaring,

“We wonder how Kukah, who lives peacefully and comfortably in the heart of the Sokoto Caliphate, can make such a callous and senseless statement”. Not done, he (Professor Isa Maishanu), who signed the statement, ordered “Kukah to immediately stop his malicious vituperations against Islam and Muslims and tender unreserved apology to the Muslim Ummah or else, quickly and quietly leave the seat of the Caliphate, as he is trying to break the long peaceful co-existence between the pre-dominantly Muslim population and their Christian guests”. Hear! Hear!! Hear!!!

Even the very indigenes of Sokoto State who are minority Christians were termed “Christian guests”.

Has Professor Isa Maishanu cared to also know that Muslim minorities are allowed to live their lives peacefully and carry out their legitimate endeavours in the largely and predominantly Christian- dominated parts of Nigeria, such as the entire South-East, South-West, South- South, Middle-Belt and most or many parts of Taraba, Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Niger and the Zulus? What happens if the said Christians were to declare their own Fatwa?

Will there be a country called Nigeria? Why did Prof Isa strain Kukah’s phrase of “a pool of violence to draw from” to mean “reference to those he has always characterised with violence – the Muslims”? why?

How did the term, “people with a pool of violence to draw from” refer to Muslims, whether directly or by way of innuendo, which Isa regarded as “a serious provocation”?

Did Isa ever read, or cared to read and digest Bishop Kukah’s earlier clarification of his statement to the effect that he NEVER called for coup? Kukah, dripping as ever, with his intellectual fecundity, lucidity and clarity, had clarified: “If you call for a coup, it means it is something that is not here. It is something that will happen in the future.

So, it is grammar. So, if I call for it, it means it is not ready. But, if I say had it been so, so and so, it would have, the tenses are completely different, and I may be probably wrong. If you know better, let me know. So, it is unfair for any journalist or newspaper to say that I called for a military coup”.

Was this tutorial not clear enough, especially since no Nigeria, Muslim, Christian, journalist or those at the corridors of power has ever challenged Kukah’s clarified position? By the way, are these Isa’s Muslim body, MURIC, and others baying for Kukah’s holy and spiritual blood not under the umbrella of the entire Nigerian Muslims led by the temperate, urbane, exposed, cerebral, accommodating and pan-Nigerian Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR?

Is Bishop Kukah no longer a Northerner also because he is a Christian? When has it become a crime to criticise and critique government, or speak truth to power and interrogate authority?

When did Nigerians agree to suspend our inalienable rights, liberties and constitutional and civil freedoms simply because President Buhari is in power? When did Nigerians agree to elect into office a Loius XIV of France, who, in his inebriation with the liquor of power and absolute despotism, once proudly stood in front of Parliament (on April 13, 1865) and declared imperiously, “L’etat c’est moi” (“I am the state”)? King Louis who successfully separated the Church and the State and snatched France back from the Cardinals actually reigned from a very youthful age, to a record time of 72 years and 110 days.

Christians are still surviving there. Are these bootlickers, fawners, egomasseurs and grovellers ever helping President Buhari to find rhythm, compass and synergy? Didn’t they hear that even white pigeons refused to obey Buhari and fly from their cages, days ago at the commemoration of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, a sign that it is not only Nigerians, but the animal kingdom that is fed up with Buhari’s chaotic, vacuous, incompetent, clueless, abrasive and irongrip rule of impoverishment and adjective penury. Leave Kukah alone. Let Kukah be.

Touch neither a limb, nor a hair of his. Kukah is Psalm 105:15 and Chronicles 16:22 (“touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm”). It was the Holy Sea, the Papacy in Rome (the only country within a country), that posted Bishop Kukah to serve in Sokoto.

No man, woman or group in Nigeria has the capacity, authority or right to send him packing, or threaten him to leave Sokoto. Fiery 69-year-old Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah has been working in the Lord’s vineyard for 45 years as a Priest.

The no-nonsense pulpit terror of bad governments and dictators was ordained a Catholic Priest on December 19, 1976. He attended the University of Ibadan for a Diploma in Religious Studies; Pontifical Urban University, Rome in 1976, for a Bachelor of Divinity; University of Bradford, United Kingdom in 1980, for a Master’s degree in Peace Studies; and the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 1990, for a Ph.D.

It was during his doctoral studies that he produced his first book, “Religion and Politics in Northern Nigeria”. He was a consultant to the Vatican for 5 years, and has remained a resonating voice in Nigeria’s polluted socio-economic and political firmament.


So frustrated I have also personally been with President Buhari’s nepotic and sectionalistic government that I once asked in exasperation, in an earlier write-up: “Are we not fast sliding into “Northern Republic of Nigeria”, or “Federal Republic of the North”, or “Northern Nigerian Republic”, or “Republic of Northern Nigeria”, or “Federal Republic of Northern Nigeria” or “Republic of Northern Nigeria and others”. Bishop Kukah is a pan-Nigerian, nonsectional, non-ethno-religious cleric.


“It is the desire of the good people of the whole country that sectionalism as a factor in our politics should disappear…” – Rutherford B. Hayes

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Presidential hallucinosis and political suicide




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Presidential hallucinosis and political suicide

By Professor Obasi Igwe

Nationalities meaning well for a restructured Nigeria amidst the existential emergency, have articulated their core interests beyond religions. The Yoruba are near unanimous carrying along their kinsmen everywhere including in Kwara and Kogi states. The Hausa, unlike the servile
yesteryears are gradually
gaining consciousness of
cultural individuality worthy
of respect. Many Fulani
even suggest Nigeria as
their “global” peoples’
rightful ancestral homeland.
Some AwkaCross elites are
continually stepping down
erstwhile Efik-Annang-Oron
-central Ibibio differences in
a new assurance of basic
linguistic ties. There is a
considerable unity among
the Kanuri, Nigeria’s
Islamic pioneers, and ideas
are emerging favouring a
renewed Kwararafa even
beyond the Benue River.
Then, many Ijaw speak of
their kind and possible
Nigerians down to the
coasts of Brazzaville, while
the Tiv of Benue state
assure those elsewhere of
continuing filial
accommodation. The Ogoni,
language apart, nevertheless
cultivate a single nationhood
. Etc. Unfortunately, as
Nigerians are uniting their
peoples to become credible
constitutive units in a
reformed polity,
compromised Igbo elites are
tearing apart between those
that are “core” and those not
with no reasons justifying
the barricade.
Socio-linguistic groups
seeking true federalism with
they or combinations thereof
becoming federating units
are making a just and
legitimate demand to free
them from the violence and
poverty of institutive
federalism imposed to serve
domestic reaction and its
external allies and
necessarily requiring
unequal unitarized
centralization instead of
federalized dispersal of
power. Any objective
restructuring will solve this
issue of improper
distribution of values and
guarantee a relative self-
determination of
nationalities to promote
their cultural progress in a
democratic secular state.
Hence, the national question6
which embodies all political
, economic, military-
security and ideological
requirements of the
equitable reorganization of
the Nigerian state. Patriotic
Nigerians understand all this
, and those feigning
ignorance of the meaning
and implications of
restructuring are enemies of
the country and part-authors
of the backward march
today. The Igbo are neither
better nor worse than others
and since divers
nationalities are regrouping
they should do the same for
not doing so could be a
source of future instability.
In a 16th May 1966 letter
to Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu
Zik had lamented “the role
the Ibo plays generally . . .
against himself . . .”.
Therefore those among the
Igbo appearing as an elites
conspiracy to mess up the
Igbo using a dagger called
“core Igbo” should relent.
These are adepts in
confusing Igbo with8
Southeast so that people are
deceived into supporting
one thing while manipulated
for another. They start great
speeches with Igbo and
midway subtly divert to
Southeast and vice versa, in
a brain-twisting that other
Nigerians do not impose on
their nationalities. The
program to inveigle the Igbo
into a restructuring hinged
on Southeast insularity
instead of Igbo and other
nationhoods run counter to
the national question at the
heart of the Nigerian crisis.
So also the impression that
other Nigerians are
necessary enemies of the
Igbo instead of they that
snatch mid-course, items of
development theorized at
every level. We respect their
views but they are wrong.
Those defining
themselves as core Igbo
listen only to themselves,
implying that every other
Igbo are un-core,
suggestively inferior. The
un-core Igbo would include
such great assets as
Chibuike Amaechi, Nyesom
Wike, Nduka Obaigbena,
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
Ifeanyi Okowa, Uche
Okwukwu, Peter Odili, the
Elumelus, Jim Ovia, J. J.
Okocha, Godwin Emefiele,
and Frank Ndili who rebuilt
the UNN. Are these who
according to the theories of
the core should give way for
them to be President,
whence could be imposed
one or other contentious
mode of sectarian
primitivism or cultism
instead of civilized
secularism upon the East?
From the un-core were
many illustrious sons that
distinguished the Igbo
globally: King Jaja, Azikiwe
(Umezechima), Nzeogwu,
Achuzie, Amabibi Nsirim,
Emma Okocha, Obi Wali,
Jackson Mpi, Dennis
Osadebay, and Professors
Elizabeth Isichie, Angulu
Onwuejeogwu and B. I. C.
No federal road in the
East had not priorly been
awarded to one or other core
Igbo leader; then, where are
the roads? No Eastern
airport or other
infrastructure had not once
been under a “core” federal
Minister, but laid waste and
awaiting President Buhari to
re-undertake. Yes the Igbo
are greatly marginalized, but
if the Southeast had been
totally surrendered to its
core leaders, citizens could
be living under a higher
reign of terror of the likes of
Otokoto and Osisikankwu,
outfits of political
intimidation, kidnapping,
murder and mayhem used
by those who rather should
be in hell than the balefully
procured public spaces they
occupy. Igbo youths are
suffering and Igboland
wasting and the solution of
the core elites is the
exclusion of those kinsmen
strategic for its rejuvenation.
There are few un-core with
the EFCC; in the core
candidates are legion,
especially having worked
with obliging Jonathan
without remembering their
suffering peoples in a field
day of core corruption
instead of development of
the prebendal core kingdom.
One reason the East is
deteriorating is because
intimidated Igbo
intelligentsia are yet to start
holding these people to
account or wake up to the
demands of civilized self-
examination. Not everyone
is culpable, but filthy fingers
corrupt the rest.
A question to those
desiring core Igbo instead of
Igbo as President of Nigeria:
who will give or elect you to
it when the base is
weakened by division? Shall
the APC spend eight years
“fighting corruption” merely
to return the country to its
bastion just in order to mess
up the Igbo and ensure their
unreadiness for restructuring
? Groups serious about
national power must first
encourage internal unity,
which broader pool would
avail wider choice of
candidates of character and
knowledge to build a better
Nigeria. While the West and
others are somehow
industrializing, inundating
the Southeast are churches
and cathedrals distorting the
orientation towards
industrialization and
exposing us Christians and
insulting Igboland as a
contested theocratic enclave
mixing faith with politics
and removed from the
march of secular progress.
A genuine Ohanaeze
should have been addressing
these sufferings and time
bombs of Igboland, but how
could a problem be the
solution? Claimed core Igbo
leaders would be brought to
serve Ohanaeze Ndigbo, but
no sooner they assume the
office than it’s conversion to
Ohanaeze Southeast with no
honest approaches to Agbor,
Igbo Akiri, Ezza Ezekunna,
Diobu/Rebisi, Isiokpo, Elele
, etc peoples or traditional
rulers; if anything it is to
annoy them with insults
about “core” Igbo. Some
claim that “core” Igbo
uniting with the “un-core”
hurts the “feelings” of
others. In the “Vanguard” of
Wednesday, January 06,
2021, an Igbo intellectual
bemoaned about Ohanaeze
and Igbo “leaders”: “We
have forensically studied . . .
the whole thing about
Ohanaeze and found out that
. . . the characters we have
in the socio-cultural and
political leaderships in
present Igbo Nation are
unarguably the mouthpiece
of the Caliphate . . . at the
mercy of compromised Igbo
governors who are
desperately looking for who
will clean up their bad
image having failed
woefully in the governance
and security of Igbo Nation.
” But is the caliphate so daft
; if anything it takes
enormous brilliance to
subject peoples to slavery.
So, trusting those despised
by their own and whose
contribution to progress is
its destruction is near
impossible. Yet, the fantasy
remains that instead of
honest human beings,
nihilistic Southeasterners
with no ideas about
anything except corruption
could be “trusted” by the
caliphate to rule, rather ruin
Nigeria merely for the sake
of delaying the end of the
The core interests of the
Igbo in line with those of
others seeking true
federalism in a multi-
cultural polity had long been
defined: a secular
democratic state with united
Igbo-speaking peoples down
to the coast in the about 13
contiguous states they are
indigenous to as one
constituent unit, with a
functional modernization of
the Port Harcourt, Bonny,
Opobo and other Eastern
seaports and their organic re
-linkage with the interior.
This would re-trigger an
industrial revolution in the
East and Middle Belt and a
spillover development of the
Northeast and Central. And
by moderating demographic
and related pressures, help
reduce ethnic tensions and
further facilitate
developmental quantum
jumps in the West,
Northwest and part-Central.
Such interdependent poles
of development, a product
of honest restructuring
would commit the wasting
energies of the youths to a
peaceful win-win
competitive emulation and
away from the antagonisms
and bloodshed being
engineered from sundry
sources. No group should be
holed up in an artificial
closet if we have an honest
intention to build up a
harmonious Nigeria. Self-
styled core Igbo and
Ohanaeze leaders are rather
diverting people to a
laughable aku ruo ulo (bring
wealth home) doctrine of
housing – as if any Igbo
ever needed a tutorial on
President Buhari who
given our criticisms over
lapses thereafter started
building roads and other
infrastructures in the East
previously ignored by “core
Igbo” PDP leaders is not
doing so for the caliphate.
The regrouping of many
progressive elements,
including some prominent
Igbo ANPP is what attracted
some of us into the APC,
short of organizing a
revolutionary party to
overthrow the evil order.
APC is free to divert to
norms antithetical to
civilized social democracy
which “progressives”
implies, and that would not
be for want of our trying.
Caliphates all over the
world are violent corrupt
feudal institutions that have
no place in civilized life.
None of its apologists had
ever suggested that the
attributes, the reason the
world united to eradicate
them, are different in
Nigeria, except that the
cultural diversity of the
country forced it from
absolutism to parallelism.
How then could any leaders,
especially from a
traditionally democratic
Igbo society, subject
themselves to feudal
atavism to please a caliphate
apprehensive of its
anachronism and long
overdue for dissolution on
account of its inutility?
Therefore, any circles
proposing a “core Igbo” President from the coterie of selfish Southeast individuals answerable to the caliphate instead of secular constitutional order, are number one enemies of the country. True lovers of civilized Nigeria in the APC must stand up to be counted and firmly assert the essence of “progressives” in the search for President instead of pandering unto a path that leads nowhere.

Professor Obasi Igwe
c/o Department of Political Science University of Nigeria, Nsukka

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A nation still in search of its soul




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A nation still in search of its soul

By Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah

Sermon at the Wake keep Mass for His Grace, Archbishop Peter Yariyock Jatau (1932-2020) at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, Kaduna on January 5th, 2021.

As I stand before you, I feel pulled between the poles of honour, humility and trepidation. I am honoured and humbled to be asked to preach in the wake keep of our beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather in the faith, His Grace, Archbishop Peter Yariyock Jatau. However, you are also asking me to perform an almost impossible task, namely, to pull the threads of the life and times of a rare human being within a short time. This is the basis of my trepidation. I therefore crave your indulgence as I, on your behalf, try to paint a few strokes of love on a canvass that is impossible to fill up. Like the six blind men of Hindustan, each of us can only tell a small part of what we experienced of this great man.

Today, our dear nation is like the proverbial farmer searching for his black goat. He has to do it with a sense of urgency because darkness is setting in as the sun quickly recedes. Our nation has become one huge waste land, huge debris of the deceit, lies, treachery, double dealing and duplicity. Nigerian politicians have turned our politics into a huge trojan horse, a hoax, a hall of guile and dissimulation. The levels of frustration are rising by the day and we can see all this in the rise in domestic violence and intercommunal conflicts. A combination of all these has turned us unto a nation at war with itself.

Nigerians complain that the country is full of Churches and Mosques and they cannot find the values of these religions in everyday life. We sin at home by stealing the nation’s resources but we seek repentance and forgiveness in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem in the guise of lesser or higher pilgrimages. We make money from abandoning projects duly paid for by governments which have adopted Contractocracy as a governance mechanism. We are allowing others to use our money to develop their own infrastructure. Our elites all assembled in Dubai for Christmas and also to welcome the New Year. As virtue recedes into the sunset in our country, there is an urgent need for us to pause and take stock of what is required to save our country.

Remembering Archbishop Jatau is an opportunity to recall the contributions of Christian Missionaries and Christian education to laying the foundation for the production of the quality and caliber of men and women of yesterday whose legendary moral fiber still resonates in Nigeria today. Recall, for example, just in what is today known as Kaduna State, such institutions as: College of Mary Immaculate, Kafanchan; St. Enda’s College, Zaria; St. John’s College, Kaduna; Queen of Apostles College, Kaduna; St. Mary’s College, Fadan Kaje; Sacred Heart College, Kaduna; St. Anne’s Primary School, Kaduna; St. Louis College, Zonkwa; St. Bartholomew’s College, Wusasa; St. Bartholomew’s Wusasa; ECWA Secondary School, Kagoro.

Look at the quality of manpower that the Church around Wusasa, Zaria, produced so early on in the history of our nation. For example, in 1924, Kaka Audu became the first Woman to write the Cambridge Examination in Northern Nigeria (the Sardauna was only 12 years old!). R.A.B Dikko, Fulani convert to Christianity, became a Medical Doctor in 1938 and was the founding President of Jamiyar Mutanen Arewa which metamorphosed into the Northern People’s Congress, Ambassador John Garba was the first African to be appointed to the World Bank, Muazu Audu and P.O. Ishaku were the first Pharmacists in Northern Nigeria, Mrs. Afiniki Hamman was the first Woman to become the Controller of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, Mallam J.H. Chindo was the first Controller of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and Editor of Nigerian Citizen Newspapers, Yusuf Dantsoho a leading PRP Politician was a product of St. Bartholomew’s School Wusasa, Professor Ishaya Audu became the first African Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Adamu Baikie became the first Nigerian Dean of the Faculty of Education and the first Professor of Education in northern Nigeria and the first Nigerian to become a Vice Chancellor in three different universities in Nigeria and Lesotho. Recall, legends like, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Theophilus Danjuma, IBM Haruna, Canon Mohammed, pioneer Chairman of the Public Complaints Commission and Code of Conduct Bureau Justice Jacob Haruna Dandaura was the first Hausa Christian to become the Sarkin Sabon Gari of Kano, Mallam John Tafida Umaru former Sarkin Wusasa was the first to introduce Hausa Broadcast in USSR. Our own brother, uncle and father, Sir Brendan Shehu, a Fulani convert from Islam, pioneered Film in Nigeria. Some of these and many more came from Fulani, Hausa and other backgrounds to form a formidable moral voice in Northern Nigeria. Sadly, years of horrible politics, ignorance, prejudice have turned religion into a weapon of death, thus killing the glory of the region. We are now reaping the harvest of the seeds we sowed yesterday and the children born from this ugly union have rejected education and are now the killers of Boko Haram. They are the bandits holding our nation hostage. We must make a quick turnaround and restore sanity.

To celebrate this relationship and to appreciate what the Church had done, in his Independence speech, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister stated among other things: “We are grateful to the British officers whom we have known, first as masters, and then as leaders, and finally as partners, but always as friends. And there have been countless missionaries who have laboured unceasingly in the cause of education and to whom we owe many of our medical services.” The Prime Minister was aware of what the Catholic Church had done.

Archbishop Peter Jatau and his generation took over the mantle of leadership from those very dedicated missionaries, raised the bar and by sheer diplomatic efficiency, sought to forge and strengthen a viable relationship between Church and State. Along with great men like the late Alayedeino, Bishop Ogboyomi, Ambassador Jolly Tanko Yusuf, Engineer Salifu, Mr. Dogo, and a host of others, they held us as the turbulent waters of the civil war, internal crisis and conflicts created severe cracks on the structures of unity and development in northern Nigeria. Trust in a united north came under severe strain coming to a climax with the takeover of schools that had been built with no contribution from the state. All our schools, built with our own sweat are still held in captivity by state governments. Almost all the State governments in the south have returned schools to the Churches and Anambra state today is a shining example of the gains. Every state that returned schools to the Churches is now far better off. While their students are receiving international awards, scholarships and so on, our youth in the north are joining Boko Haram, criminal gangs of bandits and are enveloped in poverty. The North will soon be in the hands of these killers very soon because today’s Almajiri is tomorrow’s leader!

Post-civil war Nigeria faced severe challenges but nowhere was this more so than the North with Kaduna being the epicentre. Suspicion gradually set in. No one needs to recite the litany of woes and bloodshed that have characterised the great city of Kaduna. Archbishop Jatau saw through the good and the bad times. Amidst all this, like the moral giant that he was, he seemed to have heeded the words of the great American poet, Max Ehrmann (1872-19450), who, in the famous poem, Desiderata wrote:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Today, the ruling elites over the years failed to manage the diversity of this great region in general and the great city of Kaduna in particular. Toxic politics fueled and produced much hatred which destroyed the dreams and moral vision of a good city. Today, Kaduna has come to characterise some of the out layers of the Inferno. Today Kaduna is a tale of two cities. However, it is gratifying to note that the new government is embarking on some excellent physical infrastructure which will transform Kaduna. We pray and encourage the Governor will be even handed and to see the broader picture because social infrastructure for markets, entertainment have more capacity for dialogue and peace than a million seminars.

It is time to pause and ask, where have all the good men gone? Where did it all begin to go wrong for us? Where did the building blocks of trust begin to collapse? Why has sin and sinfulness enveloped our nation? Why has our sun set at midday? How did the milk of humanity become the blood of death in Nigeria? Is it in the stars? I have heard many very educated Nigerians ask, what did we do to the gods? When Jonah was in his boat, he was the only one running away from the will of God. It seems that today, ours is a boat in which almost all passengers are running away from the will of God.

The real challenge for us now is what really is Archbishop Jatau’s legacy? How should we remember him? Who was he for us as a community? My relationship with Archbishop Jatau would be the stuff of a large book. However, I have fond memories of a man of great affection for his Priests, love for the people of God and love for the Church that he led. He was ordained a Priest on July 7th, 1963 and a consecrated a Bishop in 1972; I was only two years in the Major Seminary. As a Priest, I could never, never, never ever have wished for or hoped for any other Bishop as my Bishop. I am convinced that had he not been my Bishop, I am convinced that my life would have been totally different as a Priest. I am not sure how many Bishops would have coped with my troubles. I started making trouble very early on in life as a young Seminarian, but it was often good trouble. I asked questions, I made my point rather strongly and Archbishop knew that this was not an act of disobedience but that of filial confidence.

Archbishop Jatau did not only encourage me, but made it clear to me that he was happy and believed in with what I was doing. Even at a very early age as a Priest, he often sought my views on matters that concerned me. Not for one day did he ever give me an assignment that he did not seek my views. I barely six months a Priest when I was elected a Member of the Consultors, I was told I had the highest number of votes and therefore would have to become the Chairman at the meetings. Apart from the Archbishop, I was the only indigenous priest and by far the youngest and most inexperienced. In our first meeting with me as Chairman, Fr. Liam Burke raised his hand to speak and then Archbishop raised his hand. I asked Fr. Burke to speak but he deferred to His Grace. I asked Fr Burke to go ahead. Having vacated his seat and now sitting by my right, His Grace turned to my tiny frame perched on the Chairman’s seat and said: I am the Archbishop. I looked at him and said: Your Grace, I am the Chairman. We all laughed but after the meeting, he said to me: You will be a good Chairman!

I was barely in my second year as a Priest when one day he called me to his office to announce that he had just returned from a meeting of the Bishops of Kaduna Province and that it has been resolved that I should return to the Seminary as the Dean of Discipline. I was only in my second year as a priest. How could I go back to take over a job that was meant for much older and experienced priests? I would be the youngest and most inexperienced Dean of Discipline in the history of the Seminary! (But today, some of my students then are now my bosses, Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso, Archbishops Kaigama and Matthew Audu are evidence that I definitely worked well as Dean of Discipline!). In his characteristic manner, he said to me: “The Bishops have decided that you should go back to the Seminary as the Dean of Discipline, but I do not know what you think. Go and think about it and let me know.” It sounded strange but that was Archbishop Jatau: I wondered, the Bishops of the Province have taken a decision, yet my Archbishop was speaking to me as a messenger. He was asking me to think about it. I knew that the exit door was already firmly locked and it was impossible for me to say No. That was how sensitive he was about his Priests and this trait would trail all my assignments from being appointed to the Catholic Secretariat to all my appointments from civil authorities.

Archbishop’s self-effacing humility was legendary. In my first year as a priest, my late friend, Fr Anthony Sarki and I travelled to Jos and we spent the night with Msgr Kevin Aje as he then was. We returned to Kaduna and I discovered I had forgotten my Breviary. I did not know what to do at that time of poor communications. One day, Archbishop Jatau showed up in St. Andrew’s around 8am in the morning. I welcomed him and wondered what had brought him so early, but he held out my Breviary saying, almost like a young Seminarian, “Msgr. Aje said you forgot your Breviary in his house and asked me to give it to you!” That was my dear Archbishop.

By 1982, I had never met Cardinal Ekandem in real life. One morning, Archbishop asked me to come to his office. I arrived his office, wondering what the reason was only for him to deliver a terse message to me: “I have been contacted by Cardinal Ekandem and he says he wants to see you in Abuja tomorrow. So, get ready, I will come and pick you tomorrow morning to Suleja.” I was literally shaking. What is Cardinal looking for me for, Your Grace? I tried but could not get a word out of the Archbishop. I hardly slept that night. The next day, Archbishop showed up in Kakuri and we started a painful and endless journey to Abuja. I wondered what awaited me at the other end. I tried to ask Archbishop Jatau what it was that he and I couldn’t settle especially as I knew we had had no quarrels or disagreement. Was seeing the Cardinal going to be the end of my priesthood? That is how I was led to the Cardinal’s presence and the great man shocked me by requesting me to come and work with him in Abuja. The rest is history. The stories are many and all of us his Priests have ours.

The challenge for us now is to review the future and think about how to immortalize this great legend of a man, a man who fought and won many wars without lifting his finger. I can hardly remember seeing Archbishop go into a temper. He never raised his voice at me. I do not think that this was because he loved me in particular. He loved and treated all his priests with the gentle tenderness of a grandfather. He gave more carrot than stick. He never reminded you of any mistakes you made, unless you persisted in your bad ways.

As priests, we all take a vow of obedience. However, on three occasions, I broke this vow in the presence of Archbishop by way of filial disobedience but I incurred no punishment. First, perhaps persuaded by my good friends, Justice Kumai Pius Aka’ahs and Emmanuel Toro, His Grace asked me to go to Rome to study Canon Law early in 1977. In his usual manner, he asked what I thought about it. I told him that I would rather read Law in Ahmadu Bello University especially as Canon Law will not allow me to practice in the courts in Nigeria. We dropped the matter. Much later on, he asked what I thought about going to Ahmadu Bello to teach and also serve as a Chaplain. I told him that I would do either but not both. I prefer to be either a full time Chaplain or a Teacher. Combining both would be a problem. As a Teacher, I might likely engage in ASUU politics and get into trouble.

I had another moment of filial disobedience. After I finished serving at Oputa Panel, President Obasanjo offered me an appointment, was quite powerful. I told the President that first, as a Priest, I had no wish to serve in Government directly under any President. When I tabled this before my Archbishop, he told me that on the contrary, I should go ahead and take the job. He argued that because it could enable me to influence policy directly. He asked me to think it over but I told him my mind was already made up. I called to tell the President that I was not available for the job. When I gave my Archbishop my reasons, he accepted and the matter died there.

Anyone and everyone must have their stories about this great man. However, I want to end by raising questions about the challenges of prophetic witness in the Catholic Church. Time will not allow me to go into any details of this. However, it is important that we all understand that the challenge of any Priest is to think hard about what faithfulness to the Gospel means along with faithfulness to his or her country. The vision and the mission statements of Jesus are in Lk. 4:7 and John 10:10. Jesus speaks of the mission to set the captives free. Jesus said in John 10:10 that “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” What does freedom mean and what does a full life mean? Interpreting these texts, putting flesh on them, faithfully carrying them out is what led Jesus to the Cross. It is the essence of our mission as Christians. Archbishop Jatau was faithful at his duty post in the frontiers of fighting injustice and corruption in our society.

The duty and responsibility of government is the security and welfare of its citizens. The Priest is a watchman, one whose duty is to watch over the city and to raise his voice whenever he cites danger. He calls on those who lead to remain faithful to their duties. A society always frames its hopes, fears and dreams in Documents known as Constitutions and a Constitution will always remain the reference point for measuring the efficacy of a government. This is the challenge that the late Martin Luther King faced when he delivered his famous, I have a Dream Speech. Among other things, he said:

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note in so far as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds”. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Our duty is to reject the notion of corrupt governments all over Africa that somehow, the Lord has not provided for every society. He has and a nation like ours that is so richly blessed must not hold its citizens to ransom by pretending that there are hard times. We do not see a reflection of these hard times in the lifestyle of our public officers who daily call on the citizens to make sacrifices while they wallow in privilege. When they call for us to tighten our belts because there is recession, that oil prices have fallen, that there are problems with balance of payments and so on, the Priest at the duty post must say that there are sufficient funds, that we cannot accept bad cheques.

In his love for education, he guaranteed us a future. That we whom the country calls minorities can stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone anywhere in the world, is a testament to dream. We cannot turn back on education because education is the mirror that helps us to know what we are worth. The alternative is the darkness which makes our unredeemed selves killers and haters. Embracing education is the tribute we owe him. If the North is to progress, the Governors must decide and return all our schools to us. It is the only guarantee that Mustapha and Christopher, Husseina and Faustina can play together, embrace one another in love and become citizens of a great country. So, tonight, I leave you with the words of Cardinal Ratzinger (as he was then) at the funeral of the late Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005, when he said: “We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.” Your Grace, like St. Stephen, the first martyr, may the gates of heaven stand erect till you have passed through. Amen.

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