Predictions by some people of an imminent revolution in Nigeria may not happen because the reasons that may lead to it are also the nation’s source of strength, Roman Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese Monsignor Matthew Hassan Kukah said in Abuja yesterday. He spoke at the 10th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme “Nation Building: Challenges and Reality” at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Bishop Kukah also urged Nigerians to come up with viable ways of leadership recruitment, saying most of the country’s leaders came to leadership positions by accident. “I have been listening to what people are saying about revolution. But I can tell you very frankly that no revolution is going to take place in this country. The reasons are many and the reasons are very difficult to find. That is why we are where we are today because those reasons are the sources of our strength,” he said.
The Bishop, who expressed concern that fewer and fewer Nigerians are able to separate being in power from being in office, also said that many Nigerians assume that only those who are in office are supposed to provide the solutions to our problems. He said, “I am an extraordinarily privileged Nigerian…Since I first met President Shehu Shagari in 1979 I have had the rare privilege of meeting every Nigerian president one on one. It has also humbled me because the demands we make of our leaders – and they are legitimate – but we are somehow assuming that this country is consumed by office holders who just want to destroy this country.”
On the country’s leadership, he said “There was a paper I presented I think about six months ago and I identified that from Alhaji Tafawa Balewa right through to President Goodluck Jonathan, that somehow every Nigerian Head of State or president came to power simply or purely by accident. Their good luck may have been our bad luck, but that’s a different matter. But the point needs to be underscored because it is important for our understanding how we might begin to recruit leadership in a way and manner that can guarantee us a future.”
Kukah also took a swipe at those describing Nigeria as a mere geographical expression, saying “people think that we can’t be united simply because we are a mere geographical expression. Well, there isn’t a single nation in the world that was not a mere geographical expression until nation building built it up...Even the Satan fell from heaven after a battle with God. So even if this great nation called Nigeria dropped from heaven, there would still be problems.”
While dismissing the notion which seems to suggest that every president that has ruled Nigeria is a criminal, Kukah said Nigerians should appreciate their leaders when they are right because “If you take Obasanjo, if you take Babangida, everybody didn’t do anything. It is not true. What are the things that this person did well, let us at least identify even if it is one.” He called on Nigerians to appreciate democracy in spite of its imperfections because not every transition from dictatorship leads to democracy.