Soyinka Defends Kukah, Dismisses Critics

Richard Ginika Izuora

Professor Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, on Monday, January 18, defended the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah regarding his Christmas message.

Kukah had accused Buhari of nepotism in the Christmas message.

He also said there could have been a coup if a non-northern Muslim President did a fraction of what Buhari did.

However, the message sparked reactions, with some Muslim groups demanding his prosecution for allegedly calling for a coup.

In a statement on Monday, Soyinka described the warning given to Kukah to vacate Sokoto as “bothersome and unwholesome”, which any pluralistic society must emphatically reject.

“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,” he said.

“When a world powerful nation, still reeling from an unprecedented assault on her corporate definition, is now poised to set, at the very least, a symbolic seal on her commitment to the democratic ideal.

“It should not come as a surprise that a section of our Islamic community, not only claims to have found offence in Bishop Kukah’s New Year address, what is bothersome, even unwholesome, is the embedded threat to storm his ‘Capitol’ and eject him, simply for ‘speaking in tongues.’ Any pluralistic society must emphatically declare such a response unacceptable.

“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 was indeed the case. Life would far less be complicated.

“However, the reverse position does not seem to be adopted by such religionists in a spirit of equity. They do not hesitate to intervene; indeed, some consider themselves divinely empowered to intervene; even dictate in secular life.”

Kukah had replied to his critics, saying he never called for a coup but expressed his opinion based on evidence.

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