By Fionn Shiner

On the 60th anniversary of the independence of Nigeria, a leading Catholic bishop has said that government failure and the country’s ongoing violent crisis have left Nigeria “a boiling pot that everyone wants to escape from”.

In a statement sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto accused Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism, and of favoring Muslims in key positions of power.

He said: “The President has turned his back on almost all the key promises he made to the people of Nigeria during his campaign.

“Our country now looks like a boiling pot that everyone wants to escape from. Nepotism has become the new ideology of this government.

“In following this ideology, it is estimated that the President has handed over 85 percent of the key positions to northern Muslims and has ensured that men of his faith hold tight to the reins of power in the most critical areas of our national life; the National Assembly and the Security Agencies!”

In seven months in 2020, 178 people were killed in Kaduna State, mainly by militant Fulani herders.

Nigerian human rights organization Intersociety found that since June 2015, up to 12,000 Christians have been killed with 350 deaths in the first two months of 2020.

Bishop Kukah also said that the Nigerian military’s arbitrary use of violence contributed towards a culture of corruption.

He said: “The military, perhaps even worse than the colonial state destroyed the very foundations of our democracy, bureaucracy and public service by introducing a culture of arbitrariness and violence as a means to power.

“A combination of these laid the foundation for corruption as the worst manifestation of a culture of total lack of accountability.”

Bishop Kukah said that despite this, the crisis cannot be blamed on one factor.

He said: “There is enough blame to go around. We can blame the British, blame the politicians, blame the military but none of these changes anything. It is the fate of nations to go through the furnace and crucible of suffering.

“Under the banner of religion, Europe fought the 30 years’ war (1618-1748), the world lost millions of men and women in two wars propelled by human greed (1914-1918, 1939-1945)…

“Journeys to greatness require more than just good people, more than just goodwill, more than just hope. Those journeys have to be led by men and women with vision and tested character, prepared to mobilize their people towards the attainment of a goal.”

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