Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Matthew Kukah, yesterday, said Nigeria did not need a messiah in 2023, but a true leader who would give the whole country, irrespective of tribe, tongue, or faith, a sense of belonging and proper direction.
Kukah said Nigerians could not afford another mistake of pinning their hopes on some messiah-like figure.
The priest spoke yesterday in Abuja while delivering a keynote address at a forum on political communication and issue-based campaign in the 2023 general election, organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) and the Kukah Centre.
Kukah was joined at the event by Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The bishop stated that the country’s identity politics had not been properly managed over time. He said the tension raised by the Muslim-Muslim presidential preference of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in saner moments, should not have arisen.
Delivering the keynote address, Kukah said, “Nigerians don’t need a messiah this time. We can’t make the same mistake this time. We are the children, the last generation; we are the ones they left behind. The next election should ensure every Nigerian gets a seat in the tent.”
He stated that in a saner clime, issues of religion should not dominate the political discourse on the eve of a critical general election.
He said Nigerians needed to be given a sense of belonging, irrespective of their ethnic, political or religious beliefs, adding that anti-corruption campaign message would not be fashionable in the forthcoming elections, as Nigerians have seen it all.
Kukah stated, “I hear conversations on the quality of campaigns and how this campaign should be conducted. A campaigner seeks to draw your attention and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not that politicians are bad people; this is not the issue.
“It’s like people, who have won election will tell you: ‘maybe what we thought were the issues, when we were outside, now we are inside, it’s different.’ The challenge, therefore, almost like everything else in life, it’s about readjusting and figuring out how to make things work.
“The greatest challenge for us is that our identity politics has not been well managed. The most important ingredient in politics is diversity. You have heard me in the last seven years or so, I have been relentless. I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that, had we developed the skills to manage diversity effectively and efficiently, that’s what is happening in other parts of the world,” the Bishop said.
According to him, “The question for every politician is, what do I want to be known for? Nigeria has produced some dramatic politicians. There are people, who can hold you spellbound. Every campaign must be characterised by a slogan. Nigeria politicians need to understand that wiping out corruption campaign no longer works. Nigerians are looking for a country they can believe in.
“Our identities are not a problem. Religion is not actually a problem. When you talk about issue-based campaign, there has to be an aggregate of safety: how do you manage a country like Nigeria with so many religious and other differences?
“The questions Nigerians are asking are legitimate and it’s the responsibility of these politicians to deal with it. We need to re-image Nigeria. The Nigeria we have today is not something many of us can recognise.”