Fixing Nigeria requires more than God-fearing leader – Bishop Kukah

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah
Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, on Tuesday said fighting corruption and fixing Nigeria required more than a God-fearing leader.

Mr. Kukah said this at the launch of a book titled “The Shadow List’’ written by Todd Moss and organised by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy in Abuja.

He said to fight corruption and build the nation was not just about goodwill but about getting to the root of the matter and tackling it head-on.

“I have said it severally; let Nigerians keep saying they want a God-fearing leader.

“Nigeria does not need a God-fearing leader, because God-fearing has become an excuse to appeal to Nigerians and win elections.

“Governance in Nigeria is a criminalized enterprise and a criminalized state cannot progress; so we must come to terms as to why it is that this country is in such low portion.

“Fixing this country requires much more than that; national cohesion, holding our country together is the most fundamental project if we are to fix this nation.

“This is what we need because I am aware of how angry and frustrated Nigerians have become, especially in an environment where people are intrinsically not concerned about corruption but about their inability to access.”

Mr. Kukah said it was wonderful to talk about fighting corruption but that Nigerians could not fight it if they had not diagnosed the environment “as to why and how about corruption”.

He said it was sad that every time, Nigerians would be excited about a new administration but that the excitement never lasted because bad governance often set in.


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The cleric said that nobody would have imagined that three to four years down the line, Nigerians would be feeling the way they were feeling now.

“If you know Nigerians well, rather than thinking about the solution to the problem, we are waiting for a few men who govern Nigeria to tell us they have found a silver bullet and then we all gather around.

“We will now pass through the motion pretending to be conducting election when as it is from 1999, we always have an idea of who the president will be even before the election is conducted,” he said.

Mr. Kukah said quite a number of Nigerians had decided to make peace with the situation because they had decided that “the building called corruption is too big for them to break down”.

He added that unless the building or system which was not serving the people of Nigeria was broken down, citizens, whether Christians or Muslims, would continue to feel the way they were feeling.

Mr. Kukah said it was against this backdrop that the book should be appreciated for its intricate setting which dealt on corruption.

In his contribution, pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, commended the author of the book for taking time to write about Nigeria and its fight against corruption.

Mr. Ribadu said the novel exposed the intricate world of organised crime and Nigeria’s modest effort to tackle the behemoth like when he was serving as EFCC chairman.

Chido Onumah, Coordinator of the Centre, said the novel went beyond fiction to being a testament of the courage and determination of the men and women at the EFCC who fought corruption.

Mr. Onumah said the author had added his voice to the narrative of the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria as a first-hand person that experienced the fight.

The author of the book, Moss, who served as the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said the inspiration for the book came out of his experience as an anti-corruption worker.

Mr. Moss said the book cut across Nigeria, Russia and Washington, adding that no country was immune to corruption.

According to him, through a collaborative effort, corruption can be curbed.



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