Patriotism is one of the defining elements of every true citizen. Having the capacity to stay true to one’s country, not only when things are favourable but in difficult times, is the hallmark of a patriotic citizen.
It is of a truth that Nigeria is going through hard times. But while major stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians are doing everything to ease tension and salvage her from present challenges, others are in the business of deriding and escalating things. Reverend Mathew Kukah and Omoyele Sowore more recently have been at the centre of adding fuel to fire than dousing the heat in Nigeria today.
Rev. Mathew Kukah
It might rattle some Christian adherents, but if everyone decides to push all sentiment aside, one would visualize very clearly that some comments from Rev. Kukah incite violence. There are one and a thousand reasons why it is agreed that politics and religion should not mix. One of such reasons stems from the fact that religious leaders are liable to use their position knowingly or inadvertently, to influence and sway public opinion.
Whatever thing they do or say, whether it is informed by personal sentiments or not, is accepted by their large following without questions. This is because many believe since they are coming from a man of God, they are equally coming from God.
Unfortunately, a good number of religious leaders and their associations have deployed this openness to their advantage. One of such religious leaders is, Reverend Matthew Kukah, the current bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto.
Rev. Kukah has been using his position as an embodiment of religion to fan the embers of disunity. He is so adept in this practice that he buries it underneath the surface of his presentations. His commentaries on public matters however are wrapped with violent resonations.
December last year, his Christmas day speech went viral. Rather than use the Christmas season to preach love and peace, he upended it to stoke the embers of sectarian strife and national disunity.
His Christmas speech was a promotion of religious and tribal disharmony aimed at inciting violence against Muslims and Northerners. This is seen in one of the Reverend’s outlandish remarks:
“There is no way any non-Northern Muslim president could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war.”
He also made insinuations that the Northern hegemony was part and parcel of the problem of Nigeria, and that “the inexplicable dilemma of the North” is God’s fight for Christians whom the president may be right “cannot feel sorry that we have no pool of violence to draw from or threaten our country. However, God does not sleep.”
Furthermore, Rev. Kukah is one of the reasons why there is an acerbatic disavowal for the Fulani ethnic group and subsequent secessionist attempts, having stated clearly that, “President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second class status. He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion.”
Not only was it uncharitable and impious to use a season of peace to fan the embers of war at a time when the country was enmeshed in the cocoon of ethnic tension, it is boggling that the Reverend has continued in the wanton spree. This is seen in Reverend Kukah’s Easter speech.
Rev. Kukah’s propagation of a lawless society and mindless government gives room for further violence. His Easter speech did not acknowledge the efforts of the Nigerian Army over the years in the fight against insurgency in the Northeast. According to him, Boko Haram terrorism is worse than it was in 2015 when in reality there have been marginal improvements.
He equally claimed that the government had abandoned displaced persons when a Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was created as part of efforts to address the concerns of displaced persons.
It is noteworthy that some religious leaders, being human, are not able to disguise their national leadership preference. They, therefore, begin to stigmatise and sow seeds of doubts in the minds of citizens against leaderships they nurse disavowal for. This is the case of Reverend Kukah and his twin sermons in December and April.
If there is anybody that should hold the position of master and architect of stoking violence, it is the Sahara Reporters website founder.
It is noteworthy that Omoyele Sowore operates under the guise of human rights advocacy whereas he is playing to the gallery to score cheap political points.
Political vendetta has informed his activism for years. On 25 February 2018, he announced his intention to run for president in the 2019 Nigerian general election. In August 2018, he founded the African Action Congress (AAC). On 6 October 2018, following a successful primary election at the AAC’s national convention, Sowore emerged unchallenged as the Presidential Candidate for the party.
After touring many states in Nigeria, visiting dignitaries such as the Emir of Kano, Wole Soyinka, among others, in the hope that he would win the 2019 presidential elections, he lost to Muhammadu Buhari who pulled over 15 million votes, while he emerged as fifth with 33, 953 votes.
Since then he has been doing everything to bring down the incumbent government. Regrettably, the self-styled activist has allowed his personal interests to conflict with the public good as he has been at the centre of anything that opposes the present administration. He has in fact been an active participant in pushing for what he calls a revolution, which ordinarily translates to an outright overthrow of a democratically-elected government.
His role in the EndSARS protest is a pointer to his zest for anarchy and chaos. He was one of the hijackers of the EndSARS protests. He propounded and promoted the hashtag, EndBuhari, while pushing his own #RevolutionNow ideas under the pretext of the EndSARS campaign.
After the protest was rested nationwide, he and his group called for a relaunch of the protest in November last year. The new protest organised by the SaharaReporters owner was rescinded by most Nigerian youths having witnessed the violence that greeted the campaign after hijackers like him upturned it.
But Sowore and his group went ahead as they were seen protesting under the auspices of the EndSARS protest on 2 November 2020 in Abuja.
In a bid to instigate violence, a group of #EndSARS protesters led by the convener of the #RevolutionNow Movement, Omoyele Sowore, blocked the entrance to the Force Headquarters in Abuja. They had first occupied parts of the departure and arrival halls at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, before moving on to the Police Headquarters in the centre of town.
The event itself did not go without incident, as a video posted on Mr Sowore’s Twitter account showed a heated argument between several of the protesters and security operatives.
Although security operatives were only trying to move the protesters along, Sowore wanted to instigate violence and incite more Nigerians to join in the protest.
The Body of Genuine #EndSARS protesters had actually raised alarm over his attempts to hijack the agitation to pursue his agenda following the relaunch.
As the Body of Genuine #EndSARS protesters described, Sowore’s move – to all intent and purposes – is manifestly tendentious, overtly self-serving and anything but altruistic.
Accordingly, it was a scheme to further the selfish agenda of a man seen in many instances as a meddlesome interloper, who seeks to hijack noble causes, for premeditated ends.
Nigerian youth protesters at the EndSARS campaign, who on 14 October 2020 refused to allow him to address them in Abuja were sagacious enough to unearth his whims and caprices.
He has carried out all of these to fulfil his long quest of emerging as president: one which he failed to get through the ballot box. If not, how could someone who claimed to be versed in civil education fail to see that instigating regime change outside the ballot box is not only unconstitutional but also an open call to anarchy?
Like most disgruntled losers, Sowore has continued in this wanton spree of inciting violence and he has been deploying social media to achieve this. His recent posts on Twitter in which he joined forces with Reno Omokri reads:
“We need volunteers to mass-produce and paste #Buharimustgo posters nationwide. We will send you what to print and paste* #occupyNigeria #RevolutionNow.”