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2019: How I begged Obasanjo for years to reconcile with Atiku – Bishop Kukah

2019: How I begged Obasanjo for years to reconcile with Atiku - Bishop Kukah

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, has disclosed how he satisfied former President, Olusegun Obasanjo to forgive his ex-Deputy and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Celebration, PDP, Atiku Abubakar.

Kukah, Ahmad Gumi, a Kaduna-based mostly Islamic cleric; and David Oyedepo, founding father of Dwelling Religion Church Worldwide, amongst another eminent personalities have been final week current on the reconciliatory assembly between Obasanjo and Atiku in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Through the assembly, Obasanjo disclosed that he had forgiven Abubakar and was prepared to assist the Waziri of Adamawa mend fence internationally.

Nevertheless, the Catholic Bishop in a prolonged assertion stated he had been engaged on each leaders reconciling for years.

Stating that he needed the assembly to be between him, Obasanjo and Abubakar, the clergyman expressed delight that the parley passed off.

The assertion he personally signed reads, “I was not within the politics of reconciliation however the religious angle. Though making an attempt to reconcile President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was one thing I had been engaged on intermittently in the previous few years, nothing might have ready me for the best way issues lastly formed up.

“My focus all alongside had been with President Obasanjo and I had by no means introduced Alhaji Abubakar into what I was doing. Fairly fortuitously, an opportunity assembly modified the tide in favour of reconciliation.

“I am, subsequently, very clear concerning the boundaries, the slippery slopes and the contexts. In contrast to Shaikh Gumi and Rev. Oyedepo who have been invited to this occasion, I am a central actor.

“I have intentionally made this explanatory word lengthy as a result of I assume it’s vital that folks make up their minds based mostly on the information, given my central position within the occasion. I observe that Sheikh Gumi has already advised his personal aspect of the story. I really feel obliged to state my very own aspect in order that Nigerians can have a clearer image of my very own involvement. Sadly, I personally didn’t learn President Obasanjo’s assertion till two days afterward the Web since I was not bodily within the corridor.

“Though making an attempt to reconcile President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was one thing I had been engaged on intermittently in the previous few years, nothing might have ready me for the best way issues lastly formed up. My focus all alongside had been with President Obasanjo and I had by no means introduced Alhaji Abubakar into what I was doing. Fairly fortuitously, an opportunity assembly modified the tide in favour of reconciliation.

“Understandably, the photographs of the 4 of us (President Obasanjo, Alhaji Abubakar, Shaikh Gumi and I) actually lit up the social media and elicited divergent reactions from most of the people. Though over 99% of the reactions which have come to me have been largely these of commendation, with individuals focusing, rightly, on the reconciliation, there have been others whose focus has been on an remoted improvement that had completely nothing to do with what I had in thoughts all these years, specifically, the endorsement.

“I should say that I am eternally grateful to God that this reconciliation lastly occurred. The main target of consideration has been on the endorsement of Alhaji Abubakar by President Obasanjo, a improvement that I can name the third leg of the method which I initiated. I am unsure of President Obasanjo’s different interlocutors after we agreed to meet main to the participation of different actors and so, I will solely clear the air on what I can take full duty for.

“Let me state first that I am a priest of the Catholic Church and by the grace of God, a Bishop. I have greater than a passing information of our self-discipline and doctrine in issues relating to the position of a Catholic priest in political engagement. My doctoral thesis was on Faith and Politics in
Nigeria. So, that is an space that I have written and spoken extensively about for over thirty years.

“I am subsequently very clear concerning the boundaries, the slippery slopes and the contexts. In contrast to Shaikh Gumi and Rev. Oyedepo who have been invited to this occasion, I am a central actor. So let me clarify what actually occurred.

”On Tuesday, October ninth, 2018, I had the honour of being the Visitor Speaker for the annual Convention of the 4 Sq. Gospel Church in Alagomeji, Lagos. (The Presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina, a member of this Church, had first invited me some years again however I couldn’t honour the invitation). President Obasanjo was the Chairman of the event. On the finish of the lecture, he indicated that he would have to depart as a result of he had a scheduled assembly.

“I advised him I wanted to see him briefly and he obliged. I introduced up once more the difficulty of what he considered his reconciliation with Alhaji Atiku. My final dialogue with him this yr was both January or February. His response was nonetheless unfavourable and he informed me what he later advised the media. I reminded him that I was not within the politics of reconciliation however the religious angle. In any case, I stated to him, ‘as a Christian, this is an important thing for you to do’. He was quiet after which stated he would converse with me later that night on his ultimate determination. We parted, he to his automotive and I returned to the Church to finish the occasion.

“At about 9 pm the identical Tuesday, he referred to as to say that he had thought over the problems I had raised and eventually determined to settle for my suggestion and that sure, he can be glad to reconcile with Alhaji Abubakar. When did he assume we might meet then, I requested him? He stated he would take a look at his diary and get again to me later. Then, simply earlier than 11 pm the identical Tuesday, I acquired one other name from him saying his diary was full, that the earliest date for him was October 21st. I accepted fortunately and informed him that I would attempt to attain Alhaji Abubakar both immediately, or by way of his aides to convey the information.

“My preliminary intention had been to return to Abuja that very same night from Lagos, however my hosts on the 4 Sq. Gospel had advised that I ought to get some relaxation. Subsequent morning, Wednesday, October 10th, after I had completed celebrating the Holy Mass, I acquired a name from President Obasanjo: ‘Bishop, listen, I have changed my mind’. My coronary heart almost sank, however earlier than I might ask why, he stated: ‘Let us do it tomorrow if you can reach Atiku. I am going to deliver a lecture in Ife and will be back home before 1 pm. So, tell him to come at 1 pm’. I began frantic efforts to attain Alhaji Atiku with out luck. I reached certainly one of his aides, Paul Ibe, and requested him to please let him know I am making an attempt to attain him. Lastly, at about 1 pm, I acquired a name from him. I informed him what had occurred with President Obasanjo. He agreed and stated he can be in Abeokuta for 1 pm on Thursday.

“I received again to my hosts, the 4 Sq. Gospel Church to inform them concerning the change in my travelling plans particularly as I had no automotive to take me to Abeokuta. I didn’t need to ask President Obasanjo’s individuals to ship me a car as a result of I believed I wanted a leeway of independence and belief. My hosts have been exceedingly gracious in making a car obtainable, a driver and an aide to take me to Abeokuta. Earlier that morning, President Obasanjo had referred to as me a second time and advised me that he needed Alhaji Abubakar to come with the Chairman of the PDP, and two or three others. He additionally advised me he had additionally invited each Shaikh Gumi and Rev. Oyedepo. This was welcome news- Rev. Oyedepo is a kinsman of his, and the presence of Shaikh Gumi made sense.

“I was a bit nervous, seeing that the circle was getting bigger for one thing I thought was between three of us.I arrived Abeokuta about 12.15pm forward of each President Obasanjo and Alhaji Abubakar and his group. Alhaji Abubakar and his staff arrived, after which I noticed increasingly more individuals coming in.

“I noticed acquainted faces of various individuals who turned out to be the leaders of Afenifere. All these years, each time I introduced up this matter of reconciliation, my concept has all the time been for the three of us to sit down collectively. I nonetheless believed that the assembly can be between the 2 of them and the three spiritual leaders.
When President Obasanjo appeared, I walked up to him and stated I needed to know the protocol for the assembly. He recommended that we might meet in a corridor and that I ought to say a couple of phrases about how we received right here. I declined as a result of it appeared once more that at this level, we have been in small forest of politics and I had no want to be caught in it. I was pleased that what I needed to obtain had been achieved, specifically, getting these two males to put the previous behind them. My private preoccupation was a pastoral one, and never a political one. I was uncomfortable with this and I determined to make my place clear. I provided a unique proposal to assist us sift the ethical grain from the chaff of politics by way of a 3-step course of in order to insulate the three of us from the political fallout.

“I proposed that step one can be for he and Alhaji Abubakar to sit down behind closed doorways, type out their points after which the subsequent step can be for each Sheikh Gumi and I to go in and pay attention to the 2 of them as Rev. Oyedepo had not arrived. After that, I stated, they might proceed with the third part which from what I might see was excessive wire politics and I had no want to be caught within the net. After they each completed their temporary assembly, Sheikh Gumi and I went in and sat down with the 2 of them. We had some small briefing after which each of us spoke briefly on what that they had executed, encouraging them to make sure that this reconciliation holds. I even stated jokingly that I am a Catholic priest and our marriage vows are indissoluble! After that, we prayed after which took what has now turn into the well-known photograph behind closed doorways.

“At this level, I felt that my religious duties had been achieved and I was ready to keep my independence. Sheikh Gumi and I shook arms and though I was hungry and meals was being laid out, I skipped lunch. I quietly let myself out by the aspect door, obtained into the 4 Sq. Gospel automotive and we drove off to Lagos. Regardless of the dread of Lagos visitors and the disruption of flights on the Airport in Lagos, I had declined the supply of a seat within the Plane which had flown them to Abeokuta. Though flying with them was one of the best (and most handy) assurance I had of getting to Abuja in time for a talking engagement at an occasion with the Sultan and Cardinal Onaiyekan for 9am the subsequent day, it was essential to make sure that I took no favours from any of the 2 events.

“I was not in Abeokuta to endorse Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Social gathering. I completely perceive the emotions of lots of my pals and members of the opposition who consider that I travelled with Alhaji Abubakar and his staff to attend his endorsement by President Obasanjo, however I reiterate that this was not the case. All of the payments for my journey have been settled by the 4 Sq. Gospel hosts for the sooner dated programme who had purchased my tickets, booked lodging for me and took care to get me to the airport for my flight to Abuja and Sokoto.

“I am a robust believer in a peaceable and united Nigeria, beliefs for which I have striven and served my complete grownup life as a thinker and a priest. My instincts for reconciliation and peace have been sharpened throughout my involvement and expertise with the Oputa Panel. When the Generals refused to reply to the invitation of Oputa Panel, I personally undertook to go to each Basic Babangida and Buhari (he was not at house) at a time that right now’s latter-day Buharists have been asking the Panel to compel them to come or danger being blacked out of nationwide life.

“Goal-minded individuals will keep in mind that again in 2001, when the Christian group and lots of of President Buhari’s opponents claimed that Common Buhari had stated that Muslims ought to vote solely for Muslims, many individuals within the Christian group have been disillusioned that I wrote an extended article to clarify the context of what he had stated after talking with the Common. His social gathering, the ANPP later used a part of my article for their 2003 campaigns! My religion and expertise have taught me to study to droop judgment until I have heard each side of a narrative, it doesn’t matter what.

“I hope that this clarification helps to allay the considerations of those that might have seen all of those in a unique mild. Many minds will stay set regardless of the reasonableness of my feedback right here, and that is to be expected- one cannot please everybody. This is the reason it’s typically greatest to search to please just one’s personal conscience, and right here, mine could be very clear.

“I have been concerned in a couple of behind-the-scene shuttle diplomacy for years, largely alone initiative, benefiting from my information of these engaged within the battle or on the invitation of third events. Some have succeeded and a few haven’t. As a priest, it isn’t in my place to publicise what we have now achieved.

“I am the Convener of the Nationwide Peace Committee. This alone is sufficient to place an ethical boundary which I am sure to respect. The NPC in a position to accomplish a lot due to belief and that isn’t what I can deal with calmly. When it turned clear that each President Obasanjo and Abubakar have been on the verge of creating peace, I alerted the Chairman of the NPC, Common Abdusalam. Since I occur to be in Lagos, I drove to the Ikoyi house of Chief Emeka Anyaoku and alerted him. I spoke to my Metropolitan, the Archbishop of Kaduna, Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso. All in all, everybody believed this was an excellent transfer if we might obtain it. None of us imagined the third part of this assembly.

“Each theoretically and virtually, I have come to know that peacemaking is a really dangerous enterprise and sometimes a thankless job. I recall listening to the late Kofi Anan discuss his on two totally different events. Anybody concerned in peacemaking from home quarrels to bigger battles, have to be prepared for the great, the dangerous and the ugly. In the long run, we should put on the footwear of the lengthy distance runner, believing and trusting that the reality by no means ever sinks to the underside of the ocean. The reality will all the time have a cussed method of defying the hostile parts and popping up on the proper time, regardless of how lengthy it takes.

“I completely perceive that with Alhaji Abubakar having simply picked up the Presidential ticket of his Social gathering, with out offering this context, undoubtedly, I can respect why many individuals could have a number of anxieties. They’ll undoubtedly be proper to query my neutrality. Nevertheless, I have far too many buddies throughout get together strains for me to brazenly endorse one candidate or get together towards the opposite.

“It is going to be towards the rules of the Code of Canon Regulation of the Catholic Church which regulates our public life within the political area. The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Convention has signed a press release to the impact that no altar of the Catholic Church should ever be open to any politician, one thing we now have all taken significantly. I subsequently hope that this clarification helps these whose minds are open.

“I am thankful to God and quite pleased that this reconciliation took place and that I was a small instrument in making it happen. However, I am sorry that it has been given a different colouration and doubts to many people. Its timing was purely fortuitous and purely circumstantial not a contrivance. Personally, I will never relent in the very urgent task of making peace and reconciliation across the spectrum of our country.”

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