No rift between Christians, Muslims – irresponsible leaders the problem with Nigeria, says Kukah

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah on Monday dismissed the idea that there is a rift between Muslims and Christians in the country.

The respected cleric, who stated this while speaking on TVC’s Breakfast Show, instead blamed irresponsible leaders that turned religion into a tool for oppression.

“There is no problem between Christians and Muslims,” he said.

“There is a problem between irresponsible leaders who don’t want to govern properly; irresponsible religious leaders who have now seen religion as a tool of oppression instead of a tool for liberation.

This has been the thrust of my argument because these are two areas of study. With all sense of modesty, I have spent a good part of my life studying theology and studying religion and society.”

According to him, the nation has failed to establish a government system that prioritises its residents’ needs above everything else.

“If you are watching a football match or any game at all, that’s why there are referees. If the referee does not do what needs to be done and allows supporters to jump onto the field, you can see for yourself that referees are punishing coaches who overreach themselves by stepping even if it is just one inch, into the field. They are punished and sometimes they are taken off the pitch,” he said.

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Now, this is really what a state is supposed to be. Because without the state, it will be all of us against each other. And that is why the state is called a leviathan. You put so much power so that the state can protect us.

“The Nigerian state has proved itself to be incompetent, grossly malfunctioning, unable, and unwilling to commit the welfare of citizens as the principal basis of governance.”

According to Kukah, Nigeria is a democracy and not a theocracy, adding that there is a need for a nation where the rule of law is prioritised over religious or ethnic feelings.

He further stated that the function of religion must be defined scientifically, as the absence of such a definition gives leaders a licence to favour one religion or ethnic group over another.

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“The constitution guarantees us freedom of religion and freedom to decide what we don’t want. Religion is an association. I’m free to opt out of an association,” the cleric said.

“But if we have these unresolved issues as to the boundaries of the power of the state, how much can be appropriated in the name of religion, then you’re going to have the chaos that we have. And this is why we’ve not been able; we’ve refused to scientifically define and address the role of religion.”

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