Just In: Religion has finished Nigeria — Kukah


Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, has said the greatest weapon that is on course to destroy Nigeria is non other than religion. 

Kukah who featured in an online forum organised by the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association of Nigeria, said while issues of ethnicity has done considerable damage to the country, religion has been weaponized by the nation's elites, particularly in the North, to manipulate the people.

This unfortunate situation according to the Bishop, has made it nearly impossible to unite the country since the elites have successfully created the "impression through the processes that got them to power," that Nigerians are not, and can never be one.

He said, “Somehow, the unresolved issues of ethnicity and religion have now come back to haunt us. And I perfectly agree with the fact that if we were never in this situation, none of these should matter. And they shouldn’t. But we are so far away from those ideals and those realities. 

"Power has been used to close opportunities for national integration because those in power have given the impression through the processes that got them to power, that certain identities are important." 

Kukah maintained that the governing elite and even public intellectuals have been unable to create a roadmap by which diversity can be properly managed so that the people can come to terms with the fact that diversity is an opportunity, not a liability.

“This is largely because we are never able to address the issues of finding the ingredients for national integration. The result is that religion has become a weapon, and also in northern Nigeria it has become a weapon for mobilisation.

“Tragically, again, as I said, the politicians have mobilised their people based on religion, and they have never been able to deliver. We don’t need to look any further.

“The tragedy in Zamfara and the whole of the core 11 or 12 northern states, the fact that the north itself has become a crime scene, and that by extension spilled over to the rest of Nigeria (confirms this).

“So, just to say very clearly that the political elite in northern Nigeria and their counterparts elsewhere appreciate the fact that the consistent manipulation of religion is largely responsible for the unravelling of the country as we have today,” he emphasised.

Kukah said that the northern political elite has always used the Sharia debate from 1979 as one way of stalling debates on the future of the country, culminating in all the states of northern Nigeria adopting Sharia law.

“It is now important for us, given the tragic situation we’re in now, we can return to the scene of the crime, and the scene of the crime is that you have an elite that does not commit to religion, but purely commitment to power, using religion, raising the hopes of ordinary people, whether they are Christians or Muslims, to the possibility that they will be represented and compensated.

“The south and other parts of Nigeria are making more rational choices to support welfare. The northern elite seems to believe that everything has to be done by the federal government,” he said.

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