Picture: Rev. Father Kukah with his Igbo hosts Aka Ikenga in Lagos
Those who believe that Igbos are often the target of violent attacks especially by Boko Haram terrorists in the northern parts of Nigeria are wrong. This is the view of Rev. Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sokoto.
Speaking yesterday at the silver jubilee symposium of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo think tank, in Lagos, Father Kukah said that no terrorist sets out to kill Ndigbo. Rathter, “people who take lives are just on a mission to kill and it turns out that Igbos are caught in the cross fire.”
On why Igbos account for a higher percentage of death among other tribes during violent clashes Kukah said: “The Igbos are widely travelled, business-oriented and are relatively high in number in any part of the world they find themselves hence the rationale behind the high number of casualty each time violence occurs, creating a false impression that they are the target.”
Father Kukah also touched on other topical issues in the symposium which had as theme, “Nigeria: The Challenge of Democracy”. He noted that in the minds of Nigerians, there is no president or ruler who is not worse than his predecessors. This, he said, is because Nigerians are people who move in reverse.
According to him, “Nigerians are funny people such that when a new leader is elected they hail him but after a while, the same people will be the ones to say the leader is worse than its predecessor.”
The firebrand cleric condemned the penchant among Nigerians to act based on stereotypes. “If you have a system that excludes certain people by stereotype it leads to series of problems. We need to be a bit more creative. Stereotypes are dangerous; they are half truth and they create obstacles because certain people are sidelined on the basis of stereotype,” he said.
Father Kukah also lamented that “there is actually nothing we can be scientific about in Nigeria: we are not specifically sure about anything in the country; we are not sure how much money we generate from fuel importation, we are not exactly sure the specific number of people that voted during elections and so on. Rather we use our complexities to justify our inadequacies.”
On his part Senator Ike Nwachukwu, chairman of the event during the symposium held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Victoria Island, said that “when people who are supposed to give quality advice to their superiors fail to do so, it shows in the quality of decisions that are made.”
In his contribution, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir Emeka Ihedioha, opined that the Igbos must set a road map that will take the Igbo race to where they want it to be.
Dignitaries that graced the event include Ohanaeze Ngigbo President, Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan. Others include Ambassador George Obiozor, former President Aka Ikenga, Chief Chris Asoluka, Prof. Pat Utomi, Captain Emma Iheanacho (rtd.), actress and singer Onyeka Onwenu and veteran actor Kanayo O. Kanayo.