13th November, 2017
Most Rev. Matthew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese was one of the dignitaries that graced the 2017 lecture/award ceremony organised by the Epiphany Azinge Foundation, in Abuja. Others included former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as well as the former Nigerian Head Of State, Yakubu Gowon.
In his speech at the occasion, Rev Kukah said he was very worried that Nigerians now behave like orphans. He then advised the Federal Government to pay closer attention to decay of vital institutions in the country.
He decried the rot in key institutions in the country, especially universities, and opined that it was a major factor why the image of the country collapsed before the international community.
He went on to say that the country would not progress if those in leadership positions continued to sacrifice merit on the alter of tribalism and nepotism.
He also insisted that “the collapse of the Nigerian image did not happen in isolation. We must measure it against the backdrop of the collapse of some institutions of prestige like the universities.”
He noted that youths in the country have become so disillusioned that they were willing to travel abroad even at the risk of losing their lives. Kukah said it was regrettable that those at the helm of affairs and the citizens were no longer willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the nation.
He said: “At the bottom of what I am saying is the need for us to find out why Nigerians disobey rules? Why is it that we are so unnameable to keeping the rules? There must be a reason for this. “The issue is that we are constantly asking what is in it for me. It is a selfish question.
People accuse politicians of being selfish, but selfishness is embedded in politics because when a man says vote for me and not the other persons he is already saying I am better. “Tribalisation is arising because of the inefficiency of the Nigerian system.
It is not so much a question of how much sermons we preach, the fact of the matter is that we have outsourced our responsibilities. That is why we are at the point that we are now. Nigerians are now behaving like orphans. We have nobody to turn to.”
Meanwhile, the former Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), who also spoke at the event, said there was need for the country to de-emphasise the issue of state of origin, saying it was the primary reason his administration introduced the National Youth Service Corps as a tool for social and cultural integration.
In his opening remarks, founder and chairman of the foundation, Prof. Azinge, SAN, equally stressed the need for Nigeria to expunge the concept of state of origin from its constitution.
Among those conferred with post-humous awards as detribalised Nigerian leaders were Alhaji Maitama Sule, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief M.K.O. Abiola.