Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has added his voice to the unending controversy surrounding Catholic bishop Hassan Kukah’s Christmas sermon where he criticised the Buhari administration of being nepotic.
In his sermon, he said, “Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it.
“There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war. The President may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions.”
Kukah’s Christmas homily drew rage from the Muslim community who accused the revered cleric of denigrating Islam by suggesting Muslims are synonymous to violence.
Soyinka however, in a statement on Monday, said the problem with those having issues with Kukah’s message is that they have been religiously brainwashed and like sheep, accept “literally, and uncritically, indeed as gospel truth, any pronouncement, however outrageous and improbable, that emerges from their leadership.”
He warned that their threats to excommunicate Kukah should not be condoned as the “brutal lessons of past surrenders appear to exercise no traction on society’s faculty of cause and effect.”
Soyinka said, “The timing of Rev Father Kukah’s New Year message, and the ensuing offensives could not be more fortuitous, seeing that it comes at a time 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.
“Let no one be in any doubt that some of the most extreme of the violent forces that recently assaulted her governance citadel are sprung from religious and quasi-religious affirmations, a condition that still enables many of them to be brainwashed into accepting literally, and uncritically, indeed as gospel truth, any pronouncement, however outrageous and improbable, that emerges from their leadership.
“As usual, we have not lacked, within our own distanced environment, advocates who, even till recently, claimed to have seen in their vision, the triumph of God’s own anointed in the electoral contest of that same United States.
“In this nation we have learnt the painful way what such inbred loonies are capable of. Thus, extreme care, and historic awareness, should be taken in imputing any act or pronouncement as an attack on faith.
“Again and again, we have warned against succumbing to irrational demands of religionists, yet even the brutal lessons of past surrenders appear to exercise no traction on society’s faculty of cause and effect, especially in that religious propensity for incremental demands. Surrender one inch, they demand a mile!”
Soyinka also noted that Nigeria must nip religious extremism in the bud and disallow it from degenerating into national chaos.
“It should not come as a surprise that a section of our Islamic community, not only claims to have found offence in Father 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.
“The furore over Father Kukah’s statement offers us another instance of that domineering tendency, one whose consequences are guaranteed to spill over into the world of both believers and non-believers, unless checked and firmly contained.
“In this nation of religious opportunism of the most destructive kind especially, fuelled again and again by failure to learn from past experience, we must at least learn to nip extremist instigations in the bud,” he said.