Bishop Matthew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, revealed that he had paid over N30 million in ransom to free the church priests who were being held captive.
At a one-day “High-level forum on political communication and issue-based campaign in the 2023 general elections,” Kukah made this point while discussing the type and subject of political discourse that must take place as the formal campaign dates approach.
The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, in collaboration with The Kukah Centre, organized the event, which was reported to have set the tone for the upcoming election campaigns.
Kukah said, “I am the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, I have spent about N30m the money I don’t have because my priests were kidnapped and I have nowhere to turn to.
“I am not ashamed to say it because these are essential realities. Anyone who wants to become president of Nigeria cannot pretend to stand before me without giving me empirical evidence from his or her record about how they intend to deal with these issues because there is a collective feeling of alienation.
“Here in Abuja, just about a month or so, when the threats came that the bandits will enter into Abuja, everybody went undercover.
He added, “Before coming here, I was speaking with my brother, because two days ago, my nephew, his mother, and the driver were on their way to Abuja when they ran into the hands of kidnappers. My brother’s wife had an amputation some three months ago and they were bringing her to Abuja, so when the kidnappers saw the stomp on her leg, they had mercy on her and let her go.
“Right now, as we speak, my nephew and the driver of the vehicle are currently in the hands of the kidnappers, how it is going to end? I don’t know. Then they said they wanted N50m, they then said they wanted N20m, now they are staying on N30m.”
He further asserted that Nigerians don’t need a messiah since there isn’t one anymore; rather, they need someone who actually comprehends the state of affairs, noting that candidates frequently use misleading language to forward their agendas.
Kukah remarked that moving forward, campaigns must be identity-based, establishing the proper identity for the nation while minimizing the importance of the important issues.
He said, “When we talk about 2023 elections, we need to talk about how we will get ourselves out of all of these.
“The questions that the ordinary Nigerians are asking are legitimate and it is the responsibility of those who govern to deal frontally with the issue. We need to re-image and re-imagine Nigeria because the Nigeria that we have today is not the Nigeria that many of us can recognize,” he stated further.