By Kurtis Adigba
Nigeria needs more of Dispersants than Accelerants in troubling times like this. Some preachers in the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda, poured gasoline on already tensed situation through hate-filled, divisive, and incendiary messages, and pushed the country to genocide.
These messages were rationalized and justified by some as speaking the “Truth”. The same way Bishop Kukah’s periodic and consistent inflammatory rhetoric has been explained and rationalized by some in Nigeria. It is a somber remainder that Bishop Kukah, is also of the Roman Catholic Church. For the records, I have high regards for the Catholic Church and do not hold them complicit or vicarious liable for the actions of a few Priests or Bishops using their bully pulpits as political platforms, but they have a duty to call to order or discipline them. The Church failed to do so in Rwanda and it is failing in Nigeria so far.The Church do not have to wait until there is an implosion with devastating consequences like it happened in Rwanda, and then apologize. Now is the time to take action and stop the Accelerants in her fold and congregation.
I hear some say” What about Mbaka”? And I asked” “ is Father Mbaka the gold standard for Bishop Kukah and others like him”? Father Mbaka is not a Bishop. He is lower in the hierarchy of the church to Bishop Kukah. Kukah by virtue of his position should be an example to Mbaka. Mbaka with all the proclivity for the outlandish, never called for, or remotely suggested a forceful or forced overthrow of a democratically elected government. All he did and keep doing is to express support for certain persons, remonstrate with some public officials he perceived to be corrupt and insensitive to the needs of the people, and give predictions about them. He never incited the military against the government as Bishop Kukah is doing by saying:
“ Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-northern Muslim president could have done a fraction of what president Buhari has done by his nepotism and got away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war. The president may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions.”
Terrible and factually misleading!
This statement is deeply troubling and inciting at different levels:
1. He is accusing the military of being sectional and blind to the “injustice” of the Buhari government, and he is calling on them to rise up and do something about them.
2. He is accusing military officers from the South of the country of lacking courage to challenge the perceived injustice of the Buhari government.
3. He is accusing Christians of being ambivalent to the perceived injustice of Buhari, a Muslim, and cleverly calling on them to rise up and challenge the government. And;
4. He is encouraging and promoting division between muslims and Christians in the country. In his mind, the country consist of only Christians and Muslims, North and South.
I acknowledge that we have challenges and that some of these challenges have been with us for years, but these challenges won’t be solved by inflammatory and inciting rhetoric. They will only be solved by constructive and respectful conversations that do not deprecate or undermine others. Violence has never resolved deep-rooted problems, it has exacerbated them. For our desire to make progress as a people and country to become a reality, we must have peace. And I’m not advocating the peace of the cemetery or a one sided-peace. I’m talking about peace that recognizes the rights and sensibilities of others in a country that strives for equity and equality. That peace will never be obtained on the back of threat, division, suspicion, and inflamed passion.
I’m calling on all leaders to be measured and filtered in their utterances, and to put the interest of Nigeria above their personal, sectional, and religious interests. Nigeria cannot afford a violent break-up. Leaders across board must rise above their primordial instincts and work across the aisle to stop the country from descending into chaos. The best and consequential leaders are not those who emerge in the best of times and situations in their countries, they were men and women who cut through the noises and sentiments of their times, with laser focus on solving problems, healing the divides, and bringing people together in pursuit of common goals and happiness.
We are all leaders with common and differentiated responsibilities. We can do it. We can rebuild our country if we put our hearts and minds to it. Bishop Kukah and others who acts like him- fond of throwing a lit stick of fire into gasoline or dynamites, should know the problems of Nigeria will not be solved by inflammatory and incendiary comments.
God bless Nigeria.
• Adigba, a lawyer and political analyst, wrote from Lagos