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Kukah: By whatever name, restructuring will engender sense of belonging


Mathew Hassan Kukah

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah speaks on the Southern Kaduna crisis, Buhari’s government, executive and National Assembly face-off and other topical issues.

Are you in support of the call for restructuring?
No need for us to become hostages to language. By whatever name you call it, very few people are happy in Nigeria, very few. We have not had this kind of anomie and fatalism.

The idea of restructuring used to be seen as a south western idea and well, it is good to hear that even the faction of the northern ruling class also claim they do not mind restructuring.

By whatever name, it is clear to everyone that this system is not working for a cohesive society. The prism of power has been so narrowed and religious and regional hegemony so entrenched, even the most optimistic now have their doubts.

I am not sure how the President sees this, especially given that it is hard to know where we are going. But the feeling of frustration is palpable. Restructuring is merely actualising the provisions of the Constitution that seeks to ensure that everyone has a sense of belonging in the country. By whatever means that happens, everything else about restructuring comes to that. This society has left too many people outside and it has deployed religion, region and other dubious class interests to enthrone a culture that has deepened inequality and frustration. The pipers are still piping away.

Almost two years into President Buhari’s government, should Nigerians expect anything different from what they have seen so far?
The President has promised better days ahead. We have to take him by his words and his future depends on how much he fulfills the trust and promise. I am not sure where somehow we shall see a sprint to the finish line before the elections, who knows?

In your opinion, why has it become too difficult for the Senate and executive to be on the same page to move the country?
They are two distinct bodies performing two functions that ought to reinforce one another, but most of the time have been consumed by politicians doing what they do best: posturing and arm twisting over self interest and political survival. Were it not for the seriousness of this on the lives of ordinary Nigerians, we could dismiss it as what Fela would have called shakara, but these issues are too serious. These people do not learn lessons and it is a measure of the quality of our politics and political actors. The last administration suffered the same fate: dominating a National Assembly and then stuck in the same mud by greed and useless muscle flexing, while the people suffer.

Looking at how EFCC has lost cases against some high profile suspects like Orubebe, Ozkehome, Justice Ademola, don’t you think that Buhari’s anti-graft war is collapsing and Magu should be sacked?
I do not know what you mean when you say they lost a case. It is akin to those who often say that a player lost a penalty, rather than commending the goalkeeper. When you say the EFCC lost their cases, you assumed that the accused were guilty.

They could of course be guilty and a lawyer may have been unable to prove the case, but for this, we are dealing with how much we have assumed the worst of an accused when we have not given them a chance to clear their names. So, did Orubebe and Justice Ademola win their cases or did EFCC lose the cases? Depends on how you want to see it.

What do you make of the secret memo Kaduna State governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai wrote to President Buhari that was recently leaked?
How can something that is on the streets be a secret? I did not read the Memo and so cannot comment. They both know better, especially as the President Buhari has not complained to you.

Do you see the cabal in the presidency going after El-Rufai?
I don’t know about a cabal and who they will go after or go before. So I cannot answer your question. They all know themselves well.

Southern Kaduna has been engulfed in crisis that led to killings of innocent citizens; do you think the Kaduna State and other relevant authorities are doing enough to tackle the problem?
Southern Kaduna matter deserves more time, attention and space and for me it is not so much a matter of whether the state government is doing enough. I have stayed away from the fray because the issues are too large to be addressed in the way we have taken them, nor should they be reduced to mere politicking.

I have decided to address the issues in a slightly different manner in a personal capacity. Whatever the situation, we trust that God will show us the way. We are not concerned with those who are right or wrong, but what is right and what is wrong. But the issues are huge and they traverse a much wider landscape than what you see.

But why Southern Kaduna all the time?
Well, you ask those who are in charge of the state. So much has happened and so much still will happen in Kaduna, but the people are resilient and beyond politics, our people love peace and are prepared to live together and peacefully too.

The problems of Southern Kaduna are structural and the foundation was laid well years and years ago by the politics of exclusion that has existed for years. But, there is a time for everything and this too shall pass away.

Do you see APC winning presidential election in 2019?
Will APC contest elections as a party or will they field a candidate? The question does not arise at all.

In your view, why is it becoming difficult for the PDP to put its house in order after losing election in 2015?
For the same reasons APC has been unable to celebrate its victory successfully. This is politics in Nigeria, where the only thing that matters is raw power. The politicians are not different in hew and they are struggling in the same level of corruption and rut.

Don’t you think it is lack of character on the part of PDP leaders, especially ex-president Goodluck Jonathan who waited for too long before intervening in the crisis?
I am not sure what you want me to say. Which one is my own with how they resolve their problems? They are all doing the same thing, because they are fighting for the same fat bones.

Do you see the recently launched economic plan of President Buhari’s government as a remedy to the country’s economic recession?
They say so. So let us wait and see. We don’t need to be told that it is daybreak.

Despite repeated calls for Federal Govt to realease Nnamdi Kalu, Dasuki and El-zazaky, why do you think made the government to pay deaf ear and what are the implications?
It is difficult to know how a President who himself was victim of raw power can allow himself to be so misled legally and politically. It is impossible to fathom, such a great violation of human rights in a democracy. It is unacceptable and really impossible to fathom especially as the government does not even bother to make its own case. It is a pity and it is an act of injustice.

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