The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, has disclosed that he has paid almost N30 million as ransom to secure the release of his church priests in the hands of their captors.
Kukah made this known at a one-day “High-level forum on political communication and issue-based campaign in the 2023 general elections,” while speaking on the kind and subject that politicians must engage in as the official campaign dates draw closer.
The event which was organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, in partnership with The Kukah Centre, was said to set the tone ahead of the election campaigns.
According to him, Nigerians do not need anyone who projects himself as a messiah as we no longer need a messiah, but someone who truly understands the situation of things, adding that many times, people say what they do not mean in the process of their campaigns.
Kukah noted that campaigns henceforth must be identity-based, getting the right identity for the country and not emphasizing the things that really do matter.
He said, “When we talk about 2023 elections, we need to talk about how we will get ourselves out of all of these.
“The questions that the ordinary Nigerians are asking are legitimate and it is the responsibility of those who govern to deal frontally with the issue. We need to re-image and re-imagine Nigeria because the Nigeria that we have today is not the Nigeria that many of us can recognize.
“Before coming here, I was speaking with my brother, because two days ago, my nephew, his mother, and the driver were on their way to Abuja when they ran into the hands of kidnappers. My brother’s wife had an amputation some three months ago and they were bringing her to Abuja, so when the kidnappers saw the stomp on her leg, they had mercy on her and let her go.
“Right now, as we speak, my nephew and the driver of the vehicle are currently in the hands of the kidnappers, how it is going to end? I don’t know. Then they said they wanted N50m, they then said they wanted N20m, now they are staying on N30m.”
Kukah added that he had in the past paid a total of about N30m to rescue the priests from his diocese from the hands of kidnappers.
He added, “I am the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, I have spent about N30m the money I don’t have because my priests were kidnapped and I have nowhere to turn to.
“I am not ashamed to say it because these are essential realities. Anyone who wants to become president of Nigeria cannot pretend to stand before me without giving me empirical evidence from his or her record about how they intend to deal with these issues because there is a collective feeling of alienation.
“Here in Abuja, just about a month or so, when the threats came that the bandits will enter into Abuja, everybody went undercover.”
Kukah also admonished that politicians must develop the skill to manage diversity in such a way that the people do not feel left out. Because no matter what the effort that is put in place if the people do not see it, it would end as a futile effort.
He added, “I want to commend the National Assembly for what the action it has taken and the speed with which the Electoral Acts was passed.
“But that’s just the beginning, but there’s a challenge to convince Nigerians that they are voting and electing and choosing their leaders. There’s a crippling fear and the people do not really believe that the laws are changing.”
Kukah said he has many times tried to explain to people that it’s different when you’re involved in the act. The lens with which an issue is dissected by an outsider is totally different from when one is involved in the process.
The Bishop added, “I have always tried to explain to young people that a wedding is not a marriage; marriage starts after the wedding. What that means in essence is that a campaign is not an election and an election is not good governance.
“There is always a difference between a person who is campaigning and when they become a president, governors, senators, and the rest.
“A campaigner seeks to capture the attention, so he can do everything he has to do to get your trust.
“I tell people that it’s not like politicians are bad people, as those who have won elections will tell you, what they were seeing outside is usually different from when they get in.”