Bishop Kukah, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance By Olu Obafemi


The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, has been in the news in recent days. Many of the reac­tions to his statements on the television on behalf of the Nigerian Peace Com­mission were extremely furious and an­gry, with a few being apologetic on his behalf but hardly any out-rightly adula­tory. The main thrust of the disputations and rebuttals embarked upon by public commentators are two-fold, namely, that Bishop Kukah tended to be apologetic on behalf of Goodluck Jonathan and his government now under close watch, if not totally being investigated for the massive corruption that took place during his ae­gis to the effect that the nation’s economy has virtually crumbled (with an allega­tion of an empty purse) and, secondly, the academic distinction that Bishop Kukah makes between combating the corruption scourge ravaging the nation and good governance: that the pursuit of the anti-corruption project of the Buhari government does not equate, if fact may impede, good governance. And many have seen this posture as amounting to a nudging at the government to abandon the anti-corruption war, which the pop­ulace definitely canvasses and vigorously support and pursue good governance.

There are a number of perspectives from which the Bishop’s position has been knocked. There is the religious dimension and the ethnic dimension to the apprehen­sion of the anti-corruption project of the government. My friend, Haruna Kudu Mo­hammed, a veteran journalist, with a good grasp of history, even though a student of political science, has promised to address both the ethnic and religious coloration of the negative reactions to Buhari’s anti-corruption policy next week. Indeed, many commentators have taken the battle against corruption as an expedient crusade toward national resurrection (or survival if the ear­lier word may evoke a religious image.)

Meanwhile, there is enough that is worrisome and one that requires deeper reflection and contemplation, in the responses to Bishop Kukah, a man of God who has, for quite some time now, doubled as a public intellectual with a moral duty—a pricker on individual, groupal and national conscience on numerous issues that tend to tense up the nation’s flesh and soul. This is besides his commendable duty and service in peace and security- seeking on behalf, mainly of the government and indirectly in line with his vocation as a preacher (seek­ing salvation and survival of his immediate and extended flocks within and outside the Roman Catholic Church). There are many people who are now very vociferous about what Bishop Kukah had said on the issues of corruption and good governance who did not listen to the television and who may have relied on them say them say, just as much as there are those who were glued to the television and saw when the Chair­man of the Peace Committee on elections now rechristened the National Peace Com­mission, General Abdusalami motioned Bishop Kukah to take the air on behalf of the NPC. I understand that Bishop Ku­kah feels strongly about being misinter­preted and is irate on that account. Most people who know the Bishop can hardly accuse him of rhetorical equivocation or, simply put, of double-speak. He does not play politics with his language as a man trained in public persuasion, both for God and for man. He would not normally resort to the well-known language of politics of calling a thief a light-fingered person. Nei­ther would he normally take sides with the position of a perverse rogue and scoundrel to the detriment of rectitude, integrity and honesty. Why then are we in such a cross-road of perception, understanding and in­terpretation on this matter of his position on the fight against corruption and its re­lationship to or in contra-distinction with good governance? These are testy times as the nation’s spirit and temper are both high in search of a saviour from the grips of a comatose economy and its major, per­ceived, sponsor, corruption. Any position or any argument that appears middle-road or tentative on this matters cannot expect to benefit from popular favour or discre­tion. This is not the conclusion of my re­flection; it is a preamble to my understand­ing of the manifest anger of a discerning section of the critical mass who knows Bishop Kukah very well and his manner of delivery of his treatises and speeches, no matter how provocative. So what are the perspectives from which vollies are be­ing fired at a man who has, many times, come down from his pulpit and away from his otherwise comfort zone, as it were, to line up on the side of the common and the under-privileged man in the streets?

There are individuals and institutions like Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the Nigeria Labour Congress (there used not to be a difference between the two and prob­ably there is still not too much of a differ­ence) who fear that Bishop Kukah and the National Peace Commission may be mov­ing in the direction of obstructing the fight against corruption by the Buhari Adminis­tration. Speaking on behalf of the NLC at the Eighth quadrennial delegates Confer­ence of the National Union of Road Trans­port Workers (NURTW), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, its President, asked the NPC not to constitute itself as an obstacle to the battle against corruption and the drive to recover looted funds of Nigeria from public officers. In the same vein, Comrade Adams Oshiom­hole, who is the Chairman of the National Economic Council charged by President Buhari to investigate revenue generating agencies in the country, came down harshly on the NPC and other well-placed Nigerians whose speeches and body language tend to be targeted at dissuading President Buhari from investigating President Goodluck Jon­athan and his government in regard to his concession of defeat and probably on agree­ments allegedly reached as precondition for handing over. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole wondered if there was really an option for President Goodluck to relinquish power, besides ‘ending up as former Ivoirien Presi­dent Laurent Gbagbo in the Hague’

Now, what may be the ‘known and un­known’ as some other commentators couched it, behind-the-scene discussions and motions of the NPC and the open statements of Bishop Matthew Kukah, its spokesperson after the meeting with the President, that justify the fears of their in­tendment toward the obstruction of justice or the impediment of the corruption cru­sade?


1 Comment

  1. Looking at the views of bishop kukah involves viewing it in various dimensions. Firstly, religion has magnified partisan features in extreme degree. D wooes of man is founded on this. Secondly, I am sorry to emphasize d deep features of the present helmsman as regards his statement in 2003 which has religious connotations. All that cannot be swept under the carpet. Thirdly,d decay in d system can never be done only by a man and will never be in 4 yrs. Where d nation is now was not achieved in 4 yrs but a gradual decay, but I doubt if d followers have realized d need for change since d human nature and psychology would always be at work

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