By Simon Reef Musa
My Lord Bishop,
I do not really know whether it was my initial intention to write a secret or an open letter on the occasion of your 68th birthday that was August 31, 2020. When last week I called Your Lordship to find out where you would be celebrating your birthday, I was looking forward to the completion of your numerous missionary trips that would have afforded you an opportunity for a brief Passover in Abuja.
This 68th birthday of yours, My Lord, is not like any other day. This is the first time you are observing such a day as an orphan. For some of us who were orphaned over 20 years ago, we have been accustomed to the fear of being thrown out without the love of both parents. While our parents lived, we were completely oblivious of the gift of their presence. However, when they breathed their last, we suddenly became vulnerable and expecting to be pounced upon by some monstrous forces lurking in the dark.
Let me congratulate you for the successful funeral obsequies for Mama who transited to glory to meet with the triumphant saints. Mama, no doubt, must have been proud and felt honored by the presence of numerous Bishops, political leaders, and the community that turned out to pay their last respect.
My Lord, there’s no denying the fact that 68 years of your life has been wonderfully blessed, and the astounding height you presently occupy has been attained through great personal sacrifices blessed by the Almighty God. Looking down memory lane and the profile of dedication to causes you have embarked upon with absolute humility that Your Lordship has displayed, the little ‘Mustard Seed’, having exposed the underlining of ‘Religion, Politics, and Power in Northern Nigeria’, eventually turned into our nation’s ‘Witness For Justice.’ All through these years, you have held out the flame of light to illuminate the dark channels that have characterized our mutual suspicion and fears.
Our problem lies in our wrong approach to politics made complex by the short-sightedness of our political leaders to work for the big picture
More worrisome is the complete neglect of the youth by our present leadership to walk to the future. Our elders are still hungrier and still in love with the floodlights. When our society describes people of age 50+ as “these small boys”; it is not only anachronistic but also evil.
There’s a complete disconnect between the old and new generation, with our politics turning into a money-chasing venture.
Why do I bother Your Lordship with our present malaise? As a shepherd to our oppressive politicians and the voiceless, these political leaders thronged your sacred abode to seek ecclesiastical blessings. Like the shepherd that you are, you know the sheep and the goats and those who are out to afflict the vulnerable. Your Lordship, you must never be tired of reminding them of their greed and the vanity of mortality.
I do not share the sentiments that Southern Kaduna has been marginalized. Nigeria has been fair to our people in both the military era and civil democracy. During the military regimes, we had no fewer than 10 military administrators. What did we get in return? Not even a signboard owned by the Federal Government! When Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai appealed to the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, to establish a Command Second School in Southern Kaduna, it was a subtle message that was clear to us on our missed opportunities.
The collapse of the military jackboots in May 1999 brought a refreshing hope for a better future. We had all the juicy appointments, but what did we make out of it? Disappointingly nothing. We were in charge of the army for almost six years and occupied the top echelon of the Nigerian Navy for nearly three years. We were on top at the Federal Ministry of Finance when it mattered the most and had no fewer than five ministers. Incredibly, we had a governor that never lived to complete his first tenure and we saw former President Goodluck Jonathan crowning one of our sons as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). But what happened? Few months after his sack, he would proudly tell us in the village square that his daughter never got a job in the NNPC while he served as GMD. What a waste, My Lord!
For now, whatever is being done to achieve peace should be away from the floodlights
Now that we have become national and global attention of mass killings in Nigeria, some of us have been turned into hunters of misfortunes. With the present government of Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai living in shameless denial of mass killings ripping across our communities, we have been reduced to seekers of aids to assist thousands of our internally displaced persons (IDPs) scattered in various camps. With leaders of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), headed by Hon. Jonathan Asake, unveiling the spectre of genocide in our petrified communities, the lackadaisical disposition of the Kaduna State Government in tackling the monsters of bloodbaths spells grim days ahead for our people.
My Bishop, you should be wary of people who see their participation in these peace efforts as an opportunity to earn a little trust and favour from a state government that has not demonstrated any commitment to peace. The road to peace in Southern Kaduna should be inclusive of all stakeholders. Without recourse to a peace strategy that is apolitical that cuts across ethnic and religious divide, our hope of realizing peace will continue to be a mirage.
I am convinced far beyond a reasonable doubt that our problem lies in our wrong approach to politics made complex by the short-sightedness of our political leaders to work for the big picture. While the el-Rufai-led government has become the greatest impediment to peace in Southern Kaduna, only unbiased sons and daughters of our region can galvanize critical stakeholders that are within and outside of the state, and across ethnic, religious and political divide to create an enabling platform for peace in our region.
For now, whatever is being done to achieve peace should be away from the floodlights. Politics will always play out as the opposition would always wish the present rancor continues for advantage. Even when a balance of propaganda is achieved on the crisis as advocated by former Deputy Governor Bala Barnabas Bantex, as contained in his leaked telephone conversation, it would never ease off the intensity of our woes as those who benefit from our predicament are incapable of working for peace.
We have never been without any island of hope in the midst of the desert of our despair. The present efforts at establishing the NOK University Kachia remains an unprecedented feat by the indomitable spirit of our people. As you are involved in this venture, I pray you spared no effort to ensure the reality of this laudable project.
There’s a complete disconnect between the old and new generation, with our politics turning into a money-chasing venture
While I earnestly pray for God’s continued presence in your life, be reassured that we shall never fail in thanking God for the gift of your life. As you celebrate this birthday, we are graciously offering thanks to the Eternal Creator for your life and praying for many more decades of service in abundant health and prosperity in service to God and humanity.
Happy birthday Our Bishop!