“Everything is not okay”: Catholic Bishop in Nigeria to New Government, Urges Diagnosis

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Nigeria's Sokoto Diocese during the 2023 presidential inauguration lecture held in Abuja. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Catholic Bishop of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese has cautioned the incoming government of the West African nation against the thinking that all is well in the country.

Speaking at the 2023 presidential inauguration lecture held in Abuja Saturday, May 27, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah called on the  President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to identify what is behind the “scars, wounds and injuries” of Nigerians even as he prioritizes their healing.

“I want to say that first of all Nigeria must heal but we also must have the courage to identify the scar, wounds, and injuries,” Bishop Kukah said.

The vocal Nigerian Catholic Bishop who is also known for good governance advocacy said that the “worst thing that can happen to us is to pretend that everything is okay because everything is not okay.”

“We have so many of our citizens who have lost their lives and a lot who are in captivity,” Bishop Kukah lamented in his reflection titled, “Religious Tolerance and Inclusiveness”.


He acknowledged the multiplicity of cultures and other distinguishing factors in Nigeria, and said, “Managing diversity and differences is not about religious leaders coming together; it is about whether the state can create the kind of infrastructure that can help Nigeria move as citizens of their country.”

Nigerians are experiencing challenging moments, the 70-year-old Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in September 2011 as the Local Ordinary of Sokoto said, and identified poverty as one of the major challenges that need to be addressed.

Poverty, he said, “knows no discrimination based on religion, tribe, or any other identity.”

“Right now, 133 million Nigerians are suffering from various levels of multi-dimensional poverty,” Bishop Kukah said.

Neither ethnicity nor religion poses a problem for the country, he said about Africa’s most populous nation, and explained, “Our suffering is not determined by our religious or ethnic affiliation; rather, it is a result of a malfunctioning country.”

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Bishop Kukah continued, “I have not observed that Muslims have access to electricity while others do not; nor have I witnessed a scenario where only Muslims have access to food while the rest of us go without.”

“The challenge lies in making the country work for everyone, irrespective of their social standing,” he said, and lamented, “But right now, there is a way people feel because they are Christians or Muslims, there is a way people feel because they are women, the levels and categories of exclusion are so tremendous.”

Bishop Kukah urged the President-elect to “manage victory and transit from a politician contesting an election to one who has won an election.”

The new administration, he said, will need to “create an atmosphere where everyone in Nigeria can compete and succeed according to their energies.”

Mr. Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party, is set to be sworn in on May 29 despite ongoing court cases challenging his victory. 


The victory of the 70-year-old Nigerian politician who was declared winner of the February 25 poll by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is being challenged in court by Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).

On May 4,  John Cardinal Onaiyekan said the delay in delivering the Presidential petition verdict following Nigeria’s disputed presidential poll put the West African nation in an “anomalous situation”.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.