Catholic Bishop in Nigeria Says He Speaks “to invoke conversation”, Not to Attract Support

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese known for speaking boldly against failures in good governance has said that he does not speak to gain followers but “to invoke conversation”.

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah whose Easter 2022 Message has ignited controversy, with a State official accusing the Catholic Church leader of “damning the government in the most un-Christian terms” has said he is not guided “by how many hands are raised in support of” him.

In a Tuesday, April 19 interview with Arise Tv, Bishop Kukah said, “I have never tried to speak because I want people to agree with me. I speak my mind.” 

“I am a Christian and I think everybody who has some level of faith should be convinced that you do not measure what you say by how many hands are raised in support of you. It is only the truth that validates itself," the Nigerian Bishop said. 

The Local Ordinary of Sokoto Diocese further said that he is happy when people react to his messages because "I am a public intellectual and my duty is to invoke conversation."


In his Easter Message, Bishop Kukah said President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has divided Nigerians on the basis of religion, ethnicity and region, “in a way that we have never witnessed in our history.”

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity said Bishop Kukah made up dissensions and quarrels about the law in his Easter message. 

"His accusatory list against the government revealed only his hatred for them," Mr. Shehu said in reference to Bishop Kukah's Easter 2022 Message.

In the April 19 interview, the 69-year-old Nigerian Catholic Church leader who has been at the helm of Sokoto Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in September 2011 said he is "not unaware of the state of mind of Femi Adsesina and Garba Shehu when it comes to talking about Bishop Kukah."

He added that instead of discussing government policies, the President's spokespersons "have been involved in all kinds of writings of the poorest quality, never talking about the issues." 

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Those who speak for the President of Nigeria, Bishop Kukah said, "are used to writing statements as opposed to talking to Nigerians about policy. All that this tells you is that 99.9% of the things they write are simply second guessing what the president’s mind is."

He added that the spokespersons "have no contact with government policy and all they are doing is writing on behalf of the president."

"There is nowhere in the world where a job of this nature is being done and has been done so poorly," Bishop Kukah said, and offered to dialogue with those who speak for the President to discuss issues affecting the West African nation. 

I would like to sit down with them and their honorable minister. Let us sit down together and talk about Nigeria. I am ready,” Bishop Kukah said, and added that the government officials should tell him "one single thing in my message that you disagree with and we can talk about that." 

He also called on Nigerians to be proactive in governance issues. 


"Most of the issues we are talking about are a result of politics without the refined ingredients of intellectualism. It is our duty, and the business of the media; Nigerians must create the opportunity to be able to interrogate all these people," Bishop Kukah said during the April 19 interview with Arise Tv.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.