The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah of the now controversial National Peace Group in Nigeria, headed by a former Head of State, Lieutenant General Abdulsalam Abubakar, is currently the face of discussion on matters of corruption in government.
Bishop Kukah, in many of his recent public statements, said the present administration’s preoccupation with the issue of corruption could overstep actual governance.
The bishop, who is the spokesman of the National Peace Team, to be fair to him, had for years viewed corruption in government including that of Jonathan’s administration, as one of the roots of our national pains. Now, what makes him different at this time, remains a puzzle for historians and psychologists.
In one of his recent public political sermons, Kukah, in a highly mixed up manner, informed the people that “There is no such thing as probe in a democratic setting like ours. What obtains is investigation, and once people lead and things are not right, in¬vestigation becomes necessary.”
The bishop whose lexicon might be different from every other dictionary in the world should be reminded that words like ‘probe’ and ‘investigation’ have the same meaning.
In an apparent defensive mode on behalf of former President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration, the cleric noted that “everybody knows that things are not the way they ought to be. We are just trying to encourage people that let us get on with this business of fix¬ing this country. Let us get to the business of realizing the change that we dreamt of. And also most importantly, let us get down with the business of co-operating with God so that Nigeria can move for¬ward…”
The bishop was reported to have reminded Nigerians that “Even if former President Goodluck Jonathan stole all the money that he allowed for a peaceful transition is enough reason for President Muhammadu Buhari, to spare him of probe…”
In his mind, the fact that Jonathan conceded to the winner, President Buhari, is enough not to probe him and instead commend him for not becoming a despot and remaining in office.
Our well known bishop seems to forget that when one loses an election, it is only reasonable that the loser, in this case Jonathan, be the one to praise the winner, and simply hand over power since that is how it is carried out in every normal thinking independent society.
Kukah, as part of his self-induced presidential powers, is even counselling all of us and the country, as well as the present government to pursue its corruption probe ‘down the line’, in other words, in the future.
He even compared the possible probe as a form of ‘public lynching’ of the Jonathan administration and reminded President Buhari not only to shed his military mentality, but to understand that when “Buhari steps aside, he might face the same thing.”
Sir, although much has been said by Nigerians over your recent unusual utterances about public corruption, hearing the words of your boss or master, Pope Francis, may help all of us in this unpleasant matter.
In November 2013, the pope in a fiery sermon against corruption, reminded all of us; quoting a passage from the bible in which Jesus said some sinners merit being tied to a rock and thrown into the sea. The Holy Father reminded us in very strong-worded sermons that we should avoid living “a double life” as it is with many of our leaders across the world, Nigeria included. He stated that when some leaders give money to the church or other religious entities while stealing from the state purse, they stand out as sinners who deserve to be punished.
The pope, still on the national cost and pains of corruption and quoting from the gospel of St Luke in the New Testament, said “Jesus says: It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea.”
If the Bishop of Rome ends up hearing some of our bishop’s recent exclamations on corruption; just like he heard about the scandalous act that erupted inside an ancient religious order linked to the Vatican; he would remind Kukah that any act of corruption or financial irregularity in any scandal-tainted administration, deserves instant probe or investigation laced with due process.
The pope informed us that people who indulge in corruption are nothing but “whitewashed tombs” as “they appear beautiful from the outside, but inside they are full of dead bones and putrefaction.” According to him, a life and living based on corruption is “varnished putrefaction”.
Clearly, Pope Francis would also inform the bishop that the evils of corruption need to be targeted anytime and every time, while the act of governance is ongoing as in the case of the Buhari administration.
He would remind all of us, especially those who become wealthy from corruption and use tainted money to enrich themselves and pamper their children with gifts, that they “have lost their dignity and have given their children dirty bread”.
Interestingly, the Supreme Pontiff likened corruption as an addiction that is like taking drugs, noting that within the act of corruption, “We might start with a small bribe, but it is like a drug.
Bishop Kukah, as he journeys through the media, making utterances on matters of corruption, especially as it relates to the Buhari presidency who is carrying out the desire of the people, should hear more words of wisdom from the pope.
In October 2014, in an address to a delegation of the International Association of Penal Law, Pope Francis made it clear that corruption is “a greater evil than sin.” He said categorically that corruption is like a “bad breath,” “it is hard for the one who has it to realize it; others realize it and have to tell him.” Mr. Bishop, this is exactly what President Buhari is doing right now on the people’s behalf.
Like Pope Francis, the people believe that corrupt Nigerians will only be remorseful when they are aware of evil in a hard way. Here again, Buhari is ready for them.
The Pope revealed that “The corrupt person does not perceive his corruption,” “For this reason, it is difficult for them to get out of this state through remorse of conscience. More than forgiveness, this evil must be cured.”
This cure can partly happen with the Buhari style—swift, disciplined, precise and non-dramatic approach to the rule of law.
Bishop Kukah, as a loud voice who has been hard on Buhari’s war on corruption, the Pope would remind you that “Few things are harder than opening a breach in a corrupt heart”. “When the personal situation of the corrupt becomes complicated, he knows all the loopholes to escape as did the dishonest steward of the Gospel.”
The pope further noted that “the corrupt person goes through life taking the shortcuts of opportunism,” “with an air of innocence, wearing the mask of an honest person, which he begins to believe.”
He tells us that the corrupt person “cannot accept criticism, discredits anyone who criticises him, tries to belittle any moral authority that would question him, does not value others and insults anyone who thinks differently. If the balance of power permits, he persecutes anyone who contradicts him.”
Clearly, Bishop Kukah’s shocking proclamations about corruption in Nigeria and his vexation with Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda would not be welcomed by the pope.
In spite of our all-powerful bishop’s utterances, the good people of Nigeria are committed to ask God, ask Allah, to save the nation from the monster of corruption in all of its forms.
By the way, we are all waiting for a full sermon from Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka as it relates to this entire story.
Bishop Kukah, while we will never be able to occupy your mind and see what is motivating you at this time, the pope in his wisdom prays “that the Lord may change the hearts of those who worship the kickback god”.
Oshodi is a Forensic/Clinical and National Psychologist, and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association. [email protected]