​Kukah’s New Year address not to denigrate Islam — Soyinka

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has said no part of the comment made by the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Hassan Kukah against President Muhammadu Buhari denigrated Islam.

Soyinka, in a statement on Monday, said that the calls by some Muslims fanatics that he (Kukah) should apologise or leave Sokoto were unacceptable.

According to the Nobel Laureate, “it should not come as a surprise that a section of the Islamic community, not only claimed 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’”.

He continued: “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 were 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.”

Soyinka said the timing of Rev Father Kukah’s Christmas message, and the ensuing offensives could not be more fortuitous, seeing that “it came 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.”

According to him, “let no one be in any doubt that some of the most extreme of the violent forces that recently assaulted her governance citadel were sprung from religious and quasi-religious affirmations, a condition that still enabled many of them to be brainwashed into accepting literally, and uncritically, indeed as gospel truth, any pronouncement, however outrageous and improbable, that emerged 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.

“They have been specific in their prophecy that what was denied at the ballot box would be restored in the law courts.

“And to set a divine seal on the matter, were not our streets in a part of this nation actually inundated by religious processions in support of the candidacy of their supposed Messiah, named Donald Trump? They had conferred on him the mantle of upholder of Christian values, endangered by satanic practices in, of all places, a nation designated as – God’s own Country!”

He maintained that: “Of course, not all such tendencies represent the true face of any professed religion, we need only remark that all religions are plagued by a lunatic fringe. 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. At base, competitors for recognition as first-line defenders of the ramparts of religiosity are often motivated by non-religious agenda, which is yet another reason for the exercise of restraint and collective responsibility.

“What is Father Kukah saying? Simply what observant and concerned citizens of United States society recently remarked. The conduct of the US security forces, when confronted by peaceful protesters during the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement, was vastly different from that of the same security agencies when a predominantly white mob invaded its seat of government, thrashed it and hunted down a people’s elected representatives, rampaging for hours before they were finally escorted out.

“Such a contrast goes to the heart of the nation being and poses a real and urgent danger. That accusation has been voiced by both sides of the colour divide and across class divisions. Again and again, the warning was loudly voiced, it was unheeded. We remain fools if we fail to learn from the costly complacencies of others.”

According to Soyinka, “the obvious issue, to summarize, is – double standards, lack of equitable dealing. Agreement or disagreement with Father Kukah’s position is a demonstration of a nation’s badge of maturity, and should be read, quite obviously, as a continuation of that nagging, provocative discourse.”

He stressed, “One fails to understand why religion is being sprung centre stage as a legitimate extract from that New Year address.

“There is a deliberate, emotive displacement of central concern. It is calculated avoidance, diversionary, and thus, nationally unhealthy. Humans should not attempt to play ostrich.’

​Go tough on killers of security operatives, PDP charges Buhari

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has condemned the recent abduction and killing of security operatives by terrorists, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to go the whole distance to put an end to all forms of killings across the country.

The PDP gave the charge, Monday in a statement issued by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan.

The main opposition party lamented that the escalated acts of terrorism in the country, “now worsened by the incessant attack on security operatives, the latest being the abduction of no fewer than 18 police operatives by bandits in Kaduna state, further highlights the failures of Mr President to coordinate an effective fight against terrorism in our country.”

The statement further read: “Our party, as the voice of the people, tasks President Buhari to show concern to the plight of Nigerians who are being ravaged by terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and vandals whose activities have been emboldened by the indolent and languid attitude of his administration, including its recent dismissive statement to Nigerians to “wait on God” for a solution.

“President Buhari should listen to Nigerians and rejig his command structure, which has become so weak that officials now rationalize acts of terrorism to the extent of blaming victims, as was the case in the 43 farmers recently beheaded by terrorists in Borno state.

“The situation has become so bad that it took Chadian President, Idris Derby to personally lead his troops into our territories to root out insurgents and free Nigerian communities and our soldiers held captive by terrorists.

“It is indeed unfortunate that despite the manifest security lapses, Mr President has refused to respect the consensus by Nigerians across the board, as validated by the two chambers of the National Assembly to rejig his security architecture, by replacing his service chiefs with more competent hands.

‘The PDP calls on President Buhari to demonstrate a sense of responsibility to the duties of his office in the interests of vulnerable Nigerians who are daily falling victim to bandits, terrorists and kidnappers prowling the land.

“Mr. President must know that Nigerians have become despondent due to his failure to provide leadership to our troubled nation.

“Our party, however, identifies with the police and other security agencies at this trying time and urge them not to be deterred.

“The PDP also call on Nigerians to continue to be at alert and not to relent in providing useful information to our security agencies in the fight against terrorism in the country.”

​School Resumption: Covid-19 test not required – FG

The federal government, Monday,declared that no COVID-19 test was required for returning students to be admitted into their schools.

But the government,in a terse statement by the Federal Ministry of Education, Monday,explained that only temperature test should be carried out on students.

In the statement released by the ministry’s Director,Press and Public Relations, Bem Goong, the government warned school authorities against “asking students or parents to undergo covid-19 test before they are accepted in their schools.”

The statement read in full:” The Federal Ministry of Education says no Covid-19 Test is required for returning students to be admitted into their schools.

“Only temperature checks should be carried out on students and any other person crossing any school gate.

” School authorities should therefore refrain from asking students or parents to undergo covid-19 test before they are accepted in their schools.”