By Anthony Aneke
In our first part of Cooking with Kukah , we made reference to the spectacular pastoral exploits of the superstar Archbishop of Bishop of Münster Clemens August Count von Galen. There is this other story of him preaching once upon a time about family life. As usual, there were Nazi informers in the Cathedral. Interestingly this time, too, there was a heckler in their midst. “Celibates have no business talking about marriage and children!” came a shout from the congregation. The bishop banged his fist on the pulpit and shouted back, “I will not tolerate any reflection from the Fuhrer in my cathedral!”
This Lion who roared against the Nazis was not mincing words when he spoke truth to the Fuhrer. He knew that God placed him in a position in which he had a duty to call black “black” and white “white”. He understood that he was risking death at the hands of the Nazis. A death subtly designed with the adage “revenge is a dish best served cold” and therefore, dealing with the Bishop of Münster after the war would make more sense.
Like the heckler in the midst of the Nazi informers, the “Presidency” of Garba Shehu shouted:
“We respectfully ask Bishop Kukah to leave government to the voters and the politicians they elect, while he concentrates on his job, as it is expressed in James 1:27: ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.’ “Or else, he should put away his clerical garb, join partisan politics and see how far he can go”
In berating the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Kukah, over his criticisms of the government, Presidential aide, Garba Shehu, accused Bishop Kukah of dividing Nigerians with his Easter Message. He also accused him of making baseless accusations against the Federal Government and in fact, spreading the Kukah virus of hatred among the people.
Interestingly, Bishop Kukah has cooked it once again. He has dished it again. He has served the Federal Government with dishes graced with spices that refreshes the open wounds of petty paranoia and sheer irresponsibility of the Presidency in the face of serious issues.
Let me repeat what I stated in our first part of “Cooking with Kukah”, Black is black and White is white. That Nigeria is becoming a failed state is in the public domain. Isn’t it visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that Corruption is the one man standing in the midst of all that has been destroyed by this present administration? Do we need proof to know that Nigeria has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy and the government seems to be in hibernate mode? And someone had the guts to say that these are baseless accusations which breads division and hatred among Nigerians. When has truth and facts become a catalyst to division and hatred? Perhaps only in Nigeria. “They must find it difficult, Gerald Massey says, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority.” Truth only becomes a threat to a Liar, a terror to a terrorist and a danger to a paranoid. Whatever you are, truth defines you.
Was Bishop Kukah mincing words when he spoke truth to power? No. Was Bishop Kukah saying something new to the cohorts of the “Presidency”? No. Again, I am yet to understand what is the problem of the “Presidency” with Bishop Kukah? Farooq Kperogi was right after all:
Why does it seem like the Buhari regime is propelled by a knee-jerk, irresistible impulse to respond to everything Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah says? Everyone in Nigeria—and even the world—could be saying that Buhari is inept and obstinately wedded to narrow loyalties, and the presidency would be quiet. But let Bishop Kukah say the exact same thing. Boom! Presidential missiles would start flying. There seems to be a standing order, perhaps even an article of faith, in the Buhari presidency that Bishop Kukah must never be left unanswered. (Buhari Regime’s Bishop Kukah Obsession)
The heckler’s intervention in Bishop Clemens von Galen’s homily only betrayed not only his hatred and prejudice against the bishop but also his sheer ignorance about what a priest should do or not do. Telling Bishop Kukah to ‘stay away from “Partisan Politics” and embrace a pure and undefiled religion or throw away his clerical garb and join politics’ is only a celebration of ignorance in the writings of our presidency. This is simply a show of shame. Benjamin Achi nailed it: Witnessing to truth and Justice is part of the job of a priest. A wise presidency should have known that. But we don’t have one, regrettably, what we have is a band of brutes masquerading as Leaders.
And hey! Let us not talk about how a biblical verse was in fact, quoted and applied out of context for a sinister purpose. Also, let us not talk about the background of who quoted it. That will be a story for another day. Afterall, the devil sometimes cites the scriptures.
It is very interesting to always observe that Bishop Kukah has never considered President Muhammadu Buhari or the “Presidency” as his enemies. This is no personal issue for him. He had raised his concerns not just as a cleric but as a responsible and patriotic citizen. Time and again, he calls them friends publicly. He does not deny that. In his recent interview with Arise News, he has called these friends for an open debate about the accusations levelled against him on his recent Easter message titled: To Mend a Broken Nation: The Easter Metaphor. How I wish this debate will take place as soon as possible. Why? Because the concept of the democracy which embodies freedom, fairness and equality will be clarified for what it is and not as it is practiced and bastardized in Nigeria. And mostly especially, I would want the concept of the “Presidency”, to be defined as what it should be, from how it has been functioning in Nigeria.
Will these clarifications and definitions change anything in this present disappointing administration? No. I don’t think so. Their time is up. The clock is ticking. But for the next administration 2023, certainly yes.
And so, for all those vying for positions next year, we are fed up with the crucifixion of democracy over the years. We are fed up with our unholy romance with the presidency. We are not going to take it again in the next 4 – 8 years. If you are not going to be committed and responsible, forget it, because we will be unto you.
We will still be here, and we will still be cooking with Kukah!