By Emmanuel Gandu
He bestrides Nigeria and beyond like a Colossus.We walk under his huge legs and peep about. But in ourselves we are not underlings. His name sounds as more as yours.Write them together, yours is as fair a name. Weigh them, they are both heavy. Sound them, they are both mouthful. Conjure with them, yours will start a spirit as soon as his. But upon what meat does this Kukah feed? Is his breed of noble blood? Men at some time are masters of their fates }
A date, a history, a destiny
Who do you say Kukah is ?
Top seven (7) publications
Some academic achievements
Meritorious services Nationally and Internationally
Garlands for Kukah
Some of the accolades, speeches, and comments by a few of the dignitaries and special guests at the Episcopal Ordination and Installation of Bishop Kukah held at the Sokoto Trade Fair Ground on Thursday September 8th 2011 include the following :(a) “Use your appointment to create a cordial relationship between Christian and Muslim Communities in the Sokoto Caliphate and Nigeria in general” – Archbishop Augustine Kasujja, Vatican ambassador to Nigeria.
(b) “Kukah is a great advertisement for the Catholic Church” – President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
(c) “Matthew Kukah is a rain maker, he is dogged, and by far better than me” – Bishop Dr. Kevin Aje, outgoing and retired Bishop of Sokoto.
(d) “He is tested, a rare gem, and a blessing to the Universal Church” – Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama, Catholic Archbishop of Jos.
Born in 1952 in the obscured peasant farming village of Anchuna of the Ikulu tribe in Zango Kataf Local government of Southern Kaduna, Matthew Kukah as a little boy had to trek without shoes daily for several miles to attend primary school.
From the backwater, crossing of shrubs of peripheral life, thorns and brambles of poverty, troding over rocks, hills, and valleys of desolation and crumbs came much of what shaped Kukah’s early life.
Upon graduation from the distant neighbouring village primary school, Hassan, as fondly called by his grandmother gained admission to the St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary Zaria.
On completion of his O’ levels in Zaria, young Matthew proceeded to the prestigious St. Augustine Major Seminary Jos, where on graduation was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1976.
A DATE, A HISTORY, A DESTINY
On this fateful day 8th September 2011 attention of Catholics, Christians, and Muslims all over the world was focused on Kukah and Sokoto, as an unprecedented crowd converged at the Sokoto Trade Fare Ground to witness the Episcopal Ordination and Installation of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Matthew Hassan Kukah as the fourth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto.
That memorable event was presided over by the Papal Nuncio ( Vatican ambassador) to Nigeria Archbishop Augustine Kasujja, alongside over 20 concelebrating Bishops, uncountable number of priests, religious, and the lay faithful.
Also in attendance was a large number of dignitaries including two former Heads of State ( Gens. Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo), Secretary to the Federal Government Anyim Pius Anyim representing President Good luck Jonathan, Senators, ministers, governors including Kayode Fayemi and Adams Oshiomhole, Bishop Kukah’s mother, the Royal fathers including Emirs and Chiefs, and others so numerous to mention.
DESTINY beckons and bestowed upon Kukah the humility, intellect, wisdom, charisma, and the rare privilege of being a favourite of the Catholic Church, and Nigerians irrespective of tribal, religious, ideological, or political affiliation to be that favoured as to be appointed to the Caliphate as the Papal ambassador to the home of the much respected Sultanate.
Today, Kukah stands with the high, the low, the lowly, and the mighty. The significance of this date is very special and great. God Himself chose this date for the installation of Kukah – the ‘Prince’ and Pride of the Catholic Church in Nigeria.
Kukah shares this date with the Virgin Mary mother of Jesus.8th September according to the Church’s liturgical calendar is the birthday of Mary. Happy Birthday Mother Mary. Happy anniversary Bishop Kukah.
WHO DO YOU SAY KUKAH IS
Matthew Hassan Kukah, the Master of Masters of ceremony is known in different ways to as diversed shades of people as there are opinions.While some call him the voice of the voiceless, the good Shepard, the defender of the downtrodden; others refer to him as the bridge builder, the negotiator, the philanthropist, and the uncommon Bishop.
Yet, a good lot see him as the “Pride” of Nigeria, the other “Prince” of the Caliphate, the man that is “as constant as the Northern star”. For me, I see him as the Unrepentant Radical, the man they hate to love, the thorn in the flesh of the unjust leadership and followership.
KUKAH’S TOP SEVEN (7) PUBLICATIONS
An erudite scholar, Kukah is a household name respected extensively Internationally. He is not only a Research Fellow and Coordinator, but also a consultant to reputable International Agencies cutting across religious, cultural, and national divide.
His contribution to scholarship through books, International journals, workshops/conferences, media appearances, and other robust avenues are so overwhelming that only seven (7) books will be for now due to exigency of time.
(1) Religion, politics, and power in Northern Nigeria – 1992(2) Towards a Just, Democratic Nigeria (ed) – 1995
(3) Religion, Militancy, and Self Assertion : Islam and Politics in Nigeria – 1996
(4) Democracy and Civil Society in Nigeria – 1999(5) Witness to Justice – 2011
(6) The Church and the Politics of Social Responsibility – 2007
(7) Whistling in the Dark : Selected Interviews During the Abacha Era – 2000
One may require boxes upon boxes in order to contain Kukah’s academic records, but for the purposes of this excursion, a few of them may just suffice :
(I) Bachelor of Divinity – Rome 1976
(II) Diploma – UI Ibadan
(III) Masters Degree in Peace Studies – Bradford 1980
(IV) Doctorate Degree – University of London 1990
(V) Senior Rhodes Scholar Oxford 2001 – 2003
(VI) Mason Fellow – Harvard(VII) Masters Degree in Public Policy – Harvard
(VIII) Kukah Public Policy Think Tank Center – Abuja and Kaduna
KUKAH’S MERITORIOUS SERVICES (NATIONALLY and INTERNATIONALLY)
(1) Member King Abdulazeez International Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue Committee (KAIICID). This is an advisory board for the Governments of Saudi Arabia, Austria, and the Vatican for the promotion of Worldwide Dialogue between World Religions.
(2) Member DICASTERY Committee on World issues concerning justice and peace, human rights, torture, human trafficking, and care of the vulnerable.(3) Member Investigation Commission on Human Rights Violation 1999 – 2001
(4) Secretary National Political Reform Conference – 2005(5) Chairman Ogoni – Shell Reconciliation Commission in the Niger Delta – 2005
(6) Member Electoral Reforms Committee 2007 – 2009
(7) Member Northern Governors Committee on Boko Haram Crisis
(8) Member and Secretary National Peace Committee 2014 – Date
(9) Former Secretary General Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria
(10) Former Vicar General Archdiocese of Kaduna(11) Chairman Inter – Religious Dialogue Committee for both Bishops of Nigeria and West Africa
(12) Member Pontifical Council for Inter – Religious Dialogue at the Vatican Rome
(13) Founder and CEO The Kukah Center
(14) Chairman Dialogue Committee of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA)
(15) Member World Pontifical Council for Justice, Peace, Pastoral Care of Immigrants and Itinerant people.
GARLANDS FOR KUKAH
Matthew Kukah’s philosophy and trademarks may be likened to great minds like Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara, and not least, Martin Luther King.
You may recall that Martin Luther King is the doyen of American Civil Rights Movement who’s equal rights dream anthem – “I have a dream”, and his peace hymnal – “If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, then I don’t want peace” still resonates for generations yet unborn.
My Lord Bishop, the hour and the time will come. For now, you are still in the race for your best ever.As is often said, “the reward for good work is more work.”You have kept the faith and the covenant with God and humanity.
The prize of being put right, and of victory will be at the bracing of the tape on the finishing line.Until that time, the race is just begun.Vintage Kukah, your dreams are defining your destiny.
May God therefore guide, shield, preserve, and bless you with the Grace as He unfolds your destiny. May the heartfelt mercy of God, the dawn from on high visit you to keep the shine on those sitting in darkness and in the shadows of death, and continue to guide your mind and feet to the way of peace.Amen