NOBEL laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has faulted critics of the Christmas speech of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, saying they are religionists diverting attention from the cleric’s central theme.
The playwright said he had studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in the speech that denigrated Islam.
He, however, noted that he was not among the most religion besotted inhabitants of the globe, saying that alone, he was told, disqualified him from commenting on the subject.
Kukah in the speech summed up the country’s woes ranging from insecurity, poverty to citizens’ frustration under the regime of the President, President Muhammadu Buhari.
A Sokoto-based Muslim Solidarity Forum had called on Kukah to “quickly and quietly leave the seat of the Caliphate” or immediately stop what it termed his malicious vituperations against Islam and Muslims and tender unreserved apology to the Muslim Ummah. The presidency has faulted the forum’s position.
Soyinka spoke in a statement on Monday titled, ‘The Kukah offence and ongoing offensives.’
He said, “One of the ironic features of religionists is, one is forced to conclude, a need to be offended. It is as if religion cannot exist unless it is nourished with the broth of offence.
“This may be due to an inbuilt insecurity, a fear that even the ascribed absolutes of faith may be founded on nothing more than idealistic human projections, not grounded in anything durable or immutable, hence the over prickliness, aggressiveness, sometimes even bullying tendencies and imperious posturing.
“This leads to finding enemies where there are none. In certain social climates, it degenerates into inventing enmities in order to entrench theocratic power. In its own peculiar way, this is actually a rational proceeding. A perceived threat to a collectivity tends to rally even waverers round the flag.”
According to Soyinka, some of the most extreme of the violent forces that recently assaulted the governance citadel of the world’s powerful nation sprung from religious and quasi-religious affirmations.
He said, “On a personal note, I have studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in it that denigrates Islam but then, I must confess, I am not among the most religion besotted inhabitants of the globe.
“That, I have been told, disqualifies me from even commenting on the subject and, quite frankly, I wish that were indeed the case.”
He recalled an instance when the now Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, came under attack by the Christian community “for allegedly insulting the divine personality of Jesus Christ? What did el Rufai say exactly? Nothing new or startling. All he did was deploy a common, everyday figure of speech to describe an overwhelming challenge.”
SOKAPU demands arrest of people threatening Kukah
In a related development, Southern Kaduna people under the aegis of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union have reacted to the threat to life of Bishop Mathew Kukah by Nigerian Muslims.
They are kinsmen to Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, who came under attack by Muslim faithful over his Christmas day homily.
The union demanded the arrest of those who threatened Kukah with eviction order over his Christmas homily.
SOKAPU National President, Jonathan Asake, at a world press conference in Kaduna on Monday, warned that nobody had monopoly of violence and that no harm must befall the Catholic bishop.
This was just as he criticised the President, Muhammadu Buhari, over his alleged discriminatory postures towards other Nigerians apart from those from the “core North.”
Asake said only the likes of the Sultan, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar and emirs from the core north could criticise the current Buhari regime and go scot-free in the country today.
He recalled the treatment meted out on a former Minister of Defence, Gen. TY Danjuma (retd.), and the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, on their comments on the nation’s insecurity.