It is most disconcerting when a handful of mischievous, reckless dangerous and hopelessly misguided religious zealots and ethnic bigots that ought to know better like the Sokoto-based Muslim Solidarity Forum issue threats and give quit notices and ultimatums to leading members of the Christian community like Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
This is disappointing and unacceptable and, if not handled properly, has the potential of leading to a major religious conflagration and crisis. I say this because Kukah is deeply loved by millions from all over the country and the Christian community rever and adore him.
The Muslim Solidarity Forum are seeking to undermine the great work that the Sultan of Sokoto has achieved in creating peace in the Caliphate between Christians and Muslims over the last few years.
I oppose those Muslims that issue such quit notices and threats against Christians and their fellow Nigerians just as I am against any Christian or Christian group that issue quit notices and threats or give ultimatums to members of the Muslim community. We must all learn to get on with one another and avoid any inflammatory language or unnecessary confrontations.
I say this because Nigeria belongs to us all. No-one has the right to tell another to leave his territory simply because he delivered a sermon which sought to highlight the failings, dangers and evil of the Buhari government. As a matter of fact no-one has the right to ask his fellow Nigerian to leave his territory for ANY reason.
Bishop Kukah made a lot of sense in his homily and he spoke for millions. For anyone to now describe it as an attack or insult on Islam is dishonest, disingenuous and deceitful.
For them to go a step further and threaten him and say he must apologise or leave Sokoto is not only highly provocative but also extreemly reckless and dangerous. And the truth is that those that have threatened him are playing with fire.
Let me be clear, nothing must happen to Kukah because if it does the consequences will be grave, horrendous, calamitous, catastrophic, devastating and unimaginable and the entire country would not only be set on fire but would also explode into a thousand pieces.
No-one wants that and no-one prays for it but if Kukah is harmed or killed Nigeria will not survive it and she will be left in ashes.
I do not wish or hope for such a terrible thing to happen and I pray it does not but that is the sad and bitter truth. We must endeavour to ensure that such an apocalyptic scenario never unfolds in our nation by always preaching peace, restraint and understanding and always insisting on non-violence and mutual respect.
The truth is that Christians are fed up with being treated like the whipping boy and second class citizens in their own country and we demand to be accorded the same respect that we offer and accord to the Muslims.
That is the only way to guarantee peace because no one faith has the monopoly of violence. When you keep pushing a man to the wall and spitting in his face, one day he will stand up, call your bluff, say “enough is enough”, damn the consequences and defend himself.
We must all calm down before it is too late. We must seek to ease the tension and take a deep breath before the whole matter degenerates any further. We must all choose the path of peace, love and mutual understanding.
We must not allow the extremist on either side of the religious, ethnic and political divide to push us any further apart.
We must make it clear to our Muslim brothers that an attack on Buhari is not an attack on Islam and neither does Buhari represent Islam. He represents only himself and his sinking, incompetent, wicked and evil Government.
I call on the reverred and respected leader of the Muslim community in Nigeria, His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, a man for whom I have the deepest affection and whom I hold in very high esteem, to call those that are issuing these threats against Kukah to order and to counsel them to desist from doing so.
I call on him to continue to provide the voice of wisdom, love, restraint, mutual understanding and peace that he has provided over the last few years and that we so desperately need today.
Most important of all I call on Bishop Kukah to remain courageous and strong and not allow himself to be intimidated and I call on the Christian community in Nigeria to maintain the peace and to reach out to our Muslim brothers with love and understanding.
The most important thing for us to do in Nigeria today is to ensure that we do not let ethnicity and religion divide us any further.
Mutual respect is important and we must build bridges of understanding, trust and love between Christians and Muslims and between northerners, Middle Belters and southerners.
Buhari has burnt many of those bridges over the last five years and divided us badly but we must not allow him to go any further and end up pushing us into a second civil war.
Two weeks ago in a widely published essay titled “Who Is Squeezing Bakare’s Balls” I analysed the Buhari administration with the following words and described them in the following terms. I wrote,
“Quite apart from being a conglomeration and alliance of ill-bred touts and ill-mannered idiots, it is also a Government that can best be described as an unadulterated aberration and a cancerous affliction.
It is a cruel, inept, bumbling, abrasive, vicious, obnoxious, chaotic, toxic, sociopathic and paranoid Government which is undergirded by ineptitude and incompetence, which has divided and destroyed our country and which Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a handful of others (many of whom have since recanted, apologised and repented) helped to bring to power.
Quite apart from being anti-the Nigerian people, it is also the most anti-Christian Government that our country has ever known. It is a Government that has nothing but contempt for Christians and that does not shy away from displaying it.
It is a Government that has impoverished it’s people, terrorised them, humiliated them, tormented them, insulted them and turned them into second class citizens, grovelling slaves, beggardly field-hands and pitiful serfs.
It is a Government with a hideous and hateful ethnic and religious agenda which seeks to disempower, discredit and destroy all but its own.
It is a Government that has pampered terrorists and rewarded them with massive ransom payments and it is a Government of desolation and destruction that thrives on wickedness and injustice.
It is a Government that has turned a blind eye to the activities of the herdsmen and bandits and that has fought Boko Haram and ISWA with kid gloves.
It is a Government of hate, double standards and deceit that has murdered its own citizens and that seeks to intimidate and silence contrary and dissenting voices.
It is a Government that has cowered the civil society groups, members of the opposition and the entire political class into silence because it is so vindictive, brutal, barbaric, relentless and ruthless.
It is a Government that has turned its back on humanity, that despises the Living God and that has nothing but contempt for His counsel and His purpose.
It is a Government of calamity and sorrows that loves darkness and that hates light. It is Government of hardship and oppression and one that has ushered in more corruption, more recession, more suffering, more injustice, more calamities and more plagues than ALL the previous Governments in our entire history put together.
It is a Government that has done more damage, poured more venom and unleashed more vitriol and scorn on the elders of the South West in Afenifere, the elders of the South East in Ohaeneze, the elders of the Middle Belt in the Middle Belt Forum and the elders of the South South in PANDEM, than ANY other.
It is a Government that has demonised the various self-determination groups like IPOB, MASSOB, OPC, IYC, MEND and others in our country and has sought to intimidate and destroy them more than any other.
It is a Government that hates and despises anything or anyone that is wholesome, honorable, pristine, erudite, learned and clean more than any other.
It is a Government that has shamelessly indulged in such a high degree of nepotism, religious bigotry and ethnic chauvinism and that has so “northernised” the country that even level-headed, rational, reasonable, respected and responsible voices like that of the courageous, insightful and irrepressible Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, has had cause to assert that had Buhari been from the South there would have been a military coup d’etat by now.
Permit me to share the Bishop’s exact words. In a Christmas day sermon titled ‘A Nation In Search Of Vindication’ he said,
“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! Pastor Adesina was right to call us wailers. On the sad situation in Nigeria, the United Nations has wailed. The Pope has wailed. Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Pastors have wailed. Emirs have wailed. Politicians have wailed. The Sultan has wailed. The north that the President sought to privilege has become a cauldron of pain and a valley of dry bones”.
Kukah hit the nail on the head. It is no wonder that the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum have risen up in his defence and publicly commended him for his insight and courage. I am also glad that the Catholic Church and the northern wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has backed him too.
It is a Government that has consistently ignored the admonitions and warnings and closed its ears to the counsel of moderate voices in the core Muslim North led by His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and the likes of forward-thinking, bridge-building and progressive northern leaders like Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state and many others who do not share the supremacist mindset or hegemonist disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Finally it is a Government that has been rejected by God and that will ultimately face His judgement”.
I stand by every word that I have written and permit me to add the following.
The sheer depravity and high level of psychosis, paranoia, delusion, insanity, delusion and deceit of the Buhari administration is best reflected by the asinine response that Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, offered to Bishop Kukah in which he accused the cleric of wanting to destabilise the country.
Since then some reckless and misguided Government-sponsored groups have called for the arrest and detention of Kukah. They have also insulted and condemned him and threatened his life.
Be warned that if Kukah is harmed, injured, maimed or killed Nigeria will not survive the mayhem that will befall her.
If any of the above happens to him the Biblical ‘east wind of destruction’ will be unleashed on this country and no-one will be able to stop it.
I pray that the Government and its surrogates maintain the peace and that they do not do anything to provoke a reaction that they will not be in a position to contain.
The anger and frustration in the land today is unprecedented and the people are looking for the slightest reason to take to the streets. Few would survive it if they did.
The blood of Kukah must NOT be spilled, he must NOT be killed, he must NOT be kidnapped and he must NOT be arrested or detained otherwise the consequences will be unfathomable and unimaginable.
A word is enough for the wise.
Permit me to end this contribution with the following. On January 13th I tweeted,
“Bishop Hassan Kukah did not attack Islam and has nothing to apologise about. He has always sought for religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims. Those that demand that he “must apologise” or “leave Sokoto” must mind their utterances and keep the peace. If anyone can provide me with a video of Kukah calling for violence against Muslims or inciting people against Islam I will give him one million naira”.
My offer still stands.
Femi Fani-Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and he was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006. He was the minister of culture and tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June 22nd to Nov 7th 2006 and as the minister of Aviation from Nov 7th 2006 to May 29th 2007. He runs a syndicated column on The Trent. He tweets from@realFFK.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.