Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By Austen AKHAGBEME:

The Bishop of the catholic Diocese Sokoto, Rev Mathew Hassan Kukah is not one that needs an introduction. His fiery mien, speaks of a unique Clergyman, with a heart for service and a concern for the people’s welfare.

His recent Christmas day Homily has brought to his doorstep, public uproar, opprobrium, applause, attention and hatred all mixed together in one whole swoop.

The most remarkable thing about these tirades, (either from Bishop Kukah himself, against the establishment or vice-versa) is the need to reinvent patriotism, rebrand Nationalism from the present myopia of state sponsored propaganda masquerading as true Patriotism.

Let us dispassionately peep into and analyse the controversial homily and see whether or not Bishop Kukah was saying anything new from what we all know or bringing into the already knotty national issues, new esoteric dimensions to the Nigerian dilemma.

I’m still searching for what the Bishop didn’t say that is embedded in what he has said, that probably may be responsible for these massive uproar. Or could the problem be that of wrong timing, like what Obasanjo did in the eighties, by choosing to launch his controversial book about his bossom friend titled “Nzeogwu” in the very day of the anniversary of the murder of Sir Ahmadu Bello?

One of the Bishop’s major point was the reign of Nepotism aimed at consolidating a Northern hegemony–a skewed leadership formula that favours the north. But these are everyday observations that we’ve come to live with even though they’re sometimes exaggerated flippantly to ruffle political feathers.

Concerning the problem of insecurity in the north, the Bishop has not said anything more “vulgar” than what the Sultan of Sokoto has been saying. Why can’t the Presidential attack dogs face the highly esteemed Sultan? Are we not all aware of the fact that “the roads to the graveyards have become busier than the roads to the farms” in Northern Nigeria?

It is good for us to take a trip down the memory lane and quickly recollect that the reasons some past military adventurers gave, to justify their unwanted interregnum are not different from what the ebullient Bishop referred to in his homily.

It is high time we differentiate the true meaning of Patriotism from the deceptive powers of Propaganda. In Nigeria, especially in recent times, when any public opinion disfavour the establishment, it is assumed to be unpatriotic and capable of putting a knife to the cords that binds us together.

But to embellish the truth in praise- singing while speaking glowingly about the establishment, even in the midst of daunting National challenges orchestrated by the concomitant failure of leadership, it is often dubbed Patriotism. Therefore, those who took us to golgotha have become the patriots while those who accused them of wrongdoing are the propagandists and haters of Nigeria.

All of a sudden, the revered clergyman who fought assiduously for the emergence of the present Drivers, through the same public and pulpit activism has become the unwanted rebel. This is most unkind, given the antecedents of the cerebral and outspoken priest, in our fight for an egalitarian society.

In a society where the norms have become the exception, what you get is state sycophancy and citizenship delusion. The story of the fight to enthrone Democracy in Nigeria cannot be told without a page or a footnote dedicated to the Most Reverend Hassan Mathew Kukah. Majoritarian rule and participatory democracy presupposes the freedom of speech. Let us allow the Clergyman to enjoy the yuletide season in peace.

  • Austen AKHAGBEME is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online
News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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