Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese has called on Nigerians to eschew pessimism about the Nigerian nation and have a positive concept about the country and her people. The bishop made this call in a paper presentation at a lecture organized by the members of the Pyrates Confraternity to mark the 80th Birthday anniversary of Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
His words: “Nigerians love to criticize their country perhaps far more than any nation I know of in the world. Yes, we have all earned the right to be cynical and even contemptible about the way we have been governed, and about how the resources of our nation have been frittered away mindlessly. I am even more amused by the criticisms of some of our brethren in the Diaspora especially those who think that simply being abroad has set them apart from their fellow countrymen and women, those who believe that those of us who are here are so because we are not good enough to be abroad.”
Calling for a more positive orientation and thinking about the Nigerian nation, Bishop Kukah added: “ It is about time we took off the gloves and speak honestly to ourselves about our future as a country, our mistakes, our fears, anxieties and deep hope. We are not the worst people on earth nor is our country the worst piece of God’s real estate. We have to seize this narrative and re-define ourselves.”
According to Bishop Kukah: “The measure of the greatness of a people or even individuals is based on how or where they stand in moments of trials and tribulations. Nigeria is going through such a phase now. Since the outbreak of the tragedy that is Boko Haram, one has seen another side of our citizens that is quite tragic. Rather than trying to stand together to rise beyond this in hope together, I find some of my fellow citizens creating more confusion and using the insurgency as weapons of politics.
He added: “The President and the security agencies have become the objects of attacks and vilification and yet, there is very little that is being done to point at the way forward. I know that as day follows night, we shall pull out of this tragedy that we face as a nation. But the least we can do is to stand in the comforts of highways and homes that someone else constructed and thrown stones at ourselves and our people simply because we are living off someone else’s sweat.”
The local ordinary of Sokoto Diocese pointed out that in spite of the criticisms of the country, she has produced globally acclaimed men and women geniuses who have distinguished themselves in different areas of social, academic and professional development. He added that what the country needs are new visionaries to set higher standards and “new dreamers with the necessary imagination to summon our people to greater tomorrow.”
While eulogizing the celebrant and appreciating his commendable achievements in making the society a better place through the work of arts and literature, Bishop Kukah challenged the new generation of writers to address the questions of the relationship between life and art.
His words: “What we now need is new generations of Nigerian artists who will make Life imitate Art. By doing this, they can hold before us a world that is not here, but is possible. They can offer us a vision of a society that is not here yet but one to which we can align our politics, religion and culture as a people. They can summon to bear our burden with joy, to conquer our darkness with courage. That is the only spirit that can summon us to say, Yes, we can and Yes, we Must. It is the only spirit that can bend the arc of justice in our direction.”
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