BISHOPS, GOVERNANCE AND THE REST OF US

The Oasis Reporters

March 18, 2018

 

Rt. Rev. Joseph Bagobiri, late Bishop of Kafanchan Diocese.

 

 

This post does not in any way imaginable attempt to analyse the content of Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah’s erudite homily at the burial of yet another illustrious and dogged fighter for the cause of the Southern Kaduna people and humanity in general in late Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri on 15 March 2018 in Kafanchan. The entirety of the message is very clearly well beyond analysis because it is pure fact.

For a fact, only Bishop Kukah himself could have attempted a further analysis of that life long message which provided the foundation menu of that day’s occasion which he described as ” A day of reckoning. It is as much a day of sowing as a day of of reaping. It is a day of promise as it is a day of hope ” he added ” We are gathered for a memorial, a celebration and a festival, even a carnival. We are gathered here not as mourners with tears and sorrow in our eyes. We do not feel a sense of loss and defeat but no, but rather a sense of of exultant triumph of the risen Lord. There are no mourners and sympathizers here”.

I should admit here without equivocation that the Catholic church has and is doing a great job in the training and grooming of their priests which is evident in these two very great priests we have been blessed with. These two great priests clearly have demonstrated that they are well above we ordinary humans.
I never got around to meeting the late Bishop in person neither have I met our own Bishop Kukah but these two illustrious and prominent sons of Southern Kaduna have never as far as I know, spared any effort at putting Southern Kaduna on the world map in spite of the myriad of obstacles, both natural and artificial they have had to contend with.

Bishop Kukah alluded to a book soon to be in the market titled, “Judicial Terrorism ” An Account Of The Injustice Inflicted On Our People”, a sequel to “ The Atyap People Standing Up To And For Their Rights Against A Repressive And Feudal Empire” – The Trial Of Lekwot And His Other Atyap Kinsmen”, in the words of Bishop Kukah “will go down as one of the most gruesome abuses of judicial processes in history” .
The tragedy of the entire judicial charade is that it failed to either heal and find lasting solution to the crisis in Southern Kaduna. Here, it must be noted that the governments then and now have had no genuine desire to foster peace on this troubled landscape because of their highly discriminatory policies. There is a rebranding of apartheid policies long abandoned in Southern Africa in our own country Nigeria. The story is still very fresh in our hearts and rather than attempting to play the ostrich with this major aspect of our history we should rather make it the major fulcrum of our struggle much in the same manner as the Soweto uprising during the Apartheid era in South Africa and the Tiv and Aba women riots/struggle in our local history.

Nobody including government should ever delude themselves in thinking that their policies of oppression, discrimination in anyway possible can ever remove the wind from the sail of our individual and collective struggle. The Catholic church and the Church of God in a general sense have had a history of struggles against oppressive governments including totalitarian regimes in Latin America, South East Asia and Africa as clearly demonstrated in our scourged nation Nigeria and Kaduna State in particular.

Bishop Kukah brought to the fore the fact that ” No other faith in the entire world speaks with the certainty of as Christianity about life after death. Our hope is anchored in testable and verifiable evidence of Scripture that after His crucifixion and death, Jesus rose from the dead.
The tomb is therefore not a final resting place but rather a departure lounge of sort for a journey to eternity. For all of Church history, Christians stand out as the most persecuted set of people in the world. In all of that Christianity has survived and is blossoming in areas where as an official policy it is proscribed. This faith has survived because it appeals to the inner instincts and is built on love because it is love in itself ( For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life ” John 3:16. The Christian North of Nigeria has borne the weight of official oppression and persecution in Nigeria.

But for the effort of the Church in what used to be Northern Nigeria which prior was a bastion of feudalism as Bishop Kukah very aptly put it ” Our people would still be in the dark ages ” I should add here that had the feudal empire not rejected nearly all the values of the colonizing British at that time there would have been no motivation for the colonizers to have thought of converting the pagans and giving them western education. Our people in Southern Kaduna are the better for it but even at that, the discrimination is evident everywhere to the extent that Southern Kaduna is a Siberia of sort in spite of a rich reservoir of educated and highly trained individuals both men and women. . It is these injustices that made the priest in late Bishop Joseph Bagobiri to becoming a General leading from the pulpit for the Southern Kaduna nation and humanity.

The reason is very simple, you will be diminished of your humanity the moment you look the other way in the face of oppression such as our people in Southern Kaduna have had to endure for all of our history. We have taken our predicament with equanimity without raising a finger. I wonder what would have been the reaction if there was a reverse scenario given the combustible character of the other faith. Bishop Kukah has totally and in great detail captured the injustices inflicted on any value that is Christian not only in Kaduna but all over the entire north of this nation.

For example there is this deliberate policy of segregation in approving Certificates of Occupancy for Christians to build places of worship whilst the other major faith reserve the right to erect their places of worship just anywhere they wish, blocking of streets including major ones during worship. The evidence is everywhere in the Northern States.

In our Kaduna State, we have never had it so bad as with the government of the self styled Mallam. This character surreptitiously came to power with a mind set against the people of Southern Kaduna but specifically against their faith. Little wonder then that as soon as he assumed office as governor he embarked on compensating the Fulani who according to him lost cattle during the 2011 post election violence which in any case was not limited to only Southern Kaduna. Prior to the illegal payments he had shamelessly assured the Fulani that it was after all one of theirs who is the principal tenant in Sir Kashim Ibrahim House. With all his supposed intellect very little of which has been demonstrated in our Kaduna State, the man failed to understand that there are usually more than one party to any conflict. Surely I am not expecting the reader to have forgotten so soon that this religious bigot earlier announced that he was earmarking the sum of about N 100,000,000 ( One hundred million naira for the renovation of burnt down Mosques and Churches in Kaduna State. We reminded him that all physical damages to Christian places of worship had been repaired and made good. As far as I know, all Christian places of worship have been built through contributions from the members. For this 21st Century mullah to have thought of deploying state funds in the pursuit of faith based activities in contravention of provisions of the Constitution is the very height of absurdity. I heard him tell an audience in Kafanchan in the course of campaigning that he had a copy of the Holy Bible close to the Holy Koran which will suppose he reads either some of the time. With all of his intellect which he flaunts about, if at all he reads the Holy Bible, he clearly has not understood what he reads. Something tells me he was simply lying to achieve political ends and clearly too, the circumstances of his being governor have conflated to unveiling him as an ordinary character that mother nature has smiled at. Never before in the history of leadership have we had a character so bombastic and garrulous as this man. It is on account of how he is taking Kaduna State with him down the abyss that has singled him out as a major disaster for leadership in a general sense. Kaduna State must therefore suffer this affliction so that we can take some lessons on how to choose our leaders.

The insecurity in Kaduna State and indeed elsewhere in our country is traceable to the dire poverty of leadership. The leadership sees us not as Nigerians without minding one’s ethnicity but either as Christians or Muslims which is at the very core of the problem with Nigeria. Until we remove the cataract responsible for this condition, I’m afraid that this country will not make progress.

It is so sad as it is tragic that the quality of Southern Kaduna people is appreciated better at the Federal level but not within the State as well observed in Bishop Kukah’s homily.

The Bishop in his interaction with President Obasanjo while thanking him for appointing Southern Kaduna officers, one to the office of Chief of Army Staff and on to Chief of Defence Staff and the other as Chief of Army Staff almost back to back, the President replied that the appointments were not made based on where the officers come from but simply on merit.
The Bishop said he felt sorry for the President ” Because he did not seem to understand that in the eyes of the mafia, merit, excellence and competence were tied to religion and that in our case being a Christian excludes you from certain positions “.

The Bishop further observed instructively that ” Any religious leader than stands aside in the face of tyranny, oppression and injustice is a traitor “.

There is no better language or style in making this clarion call. This message should resonate in every Church, Mosque. Temple and Shrine in this country and beyond our shores.

There is a profound falsehood our country must deal urgently with which is the willingness to tell the truth about happenings in this beleaguered nation.

This. nation made a error in assessing the Boko Haram insurgency when it manifested as some read it as Islamic jihadists others saw it as a Muslim versus Christian struggle yet many others interpreted it as politics playing out in the field. Tragically with all the myriad of security personnel the build up of the insurgents could not be detected and nipped in the bud.

Back to Kaduna State at the height of the killings in Southern Kaduna a charade by the name, Kafanchan Peace Declaration was arranged which assumed that there was conflict between the ethnic nationalities and some characters were coerced into appending their signatures to the dubious document. In any case the document ended up as a huge joke after nauseating bill boards had been erected across Southern Kaduna. We shall continue getting it wrong until we are ready to call a spade, a spade not a shovel.

With characters such as the governor of Kaduna State, we have a long way to go. If this is a serious nation, Bishop. Kukah’s homily should be grabbed properly and carefully studied and declared a working document. I have read many a great speech and I’m concluding that the Bishop’s is a GREAT speech just as Martin Luther King’s masterpiece ” I have a dream “.

Written by Gora Dauda.

Dauda is a retired member of the Nigerian Army who saw action in Peace keeping operations outside Nigeria’s shores.
He writes from Kaduna, north west Nigeria.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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