Bishop Matthew Kukah

Prominent Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, has warned of a troubling trend of religious and ethnic discrimination in Nigerian Universities, noting that this bias undermines the fundamental values of meritocracy and fairness.

In an appearance on The Morning Show on Arise TV on Thursday, Kukah expressed grave concern about how Churches are being denied the right to be built in Northern University in Nigeria, raising fears that this could be indicative of a religious intolerance in the country.

The Bishop stated, “A mosque was constructed at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I delivered a convocation lecture in Calabar three weeks ago. After my lecture, the Chief Imam of the University came to congratulate me. But as I speak to you, Usman Dan Fodio, who is over 40 years old, Bayero University, and other universities in Northern Nigeria have decided to close their doors to the possibility of churches being built in the universities across this country.”

Continuing his analysis, Bishop Kukah stressed the severe consequences of this growing fanaticism and lack of integration in universities.

He noted: “All this fanaticism we are seeing is expressed in public life. If students in the university or at the point of their growing up are not allowed to integrate and interrelate, and if churches or mosques cannot be built across this country, then there is a problem.”

The Bishop underscored the troubling trend of diminishing diversity and meritocracy where ethnic and religious consideration had continued to wield a concerning influence in Nigerian Universities.

The Bishop stated, “There was a time when Ahmadu Bello University had lecturers from different parts of the world. Now, look at what has happened to our universities across Nigeria. Our universities have become just mere incubators of ethnic jingoism.

“So, I do not know which funded Federal University that you will name that has a Vice Chancellor that is not a local boy.

“So the universities themselves have become playgrounds for the ambitions of the local elite. The question is why should a place of worship be a problem for a university? Whether it is for the Muslim students in Calabar or the Christian students in Sokoto.

“I approached the Minister of Education about this. I have a letter from the Nigerian University Commission. The universities in northern Nigeria have refused to implement this recommendation.”

Kukah stressed the importance of restoring integrity and promoting diversity in leadership, citing the previous initiatives of former President Obasanjo.

Furthermore, he advocated for greater transparency in recruitment processes to prioritise merit over favouritism.

Kukah advised, “Therefore, let us restore nobility around the universities because that is where the leaders of tomorrow are going to come from. Let us also diversify it in the way that former President Olusegun Obasanjo did.

“Our inability to manage diversity has also led us to a literal dead end because when you go to the bureaucracy, you find that in a single office, the people running the show are from the same community, religion, or tribe. If we don’t deliberately decide to figure out how to manage diversity scientifically, then we will continue to haemorrhage. I think that this was the most horrible thing that Buhari did, and there needs to be a very quick return to a situation in which our diversity is a cause for celebration.

“The processes of recruitment to public life in Nigeria need to be much more transparent. The idea that certificates are no longer relevant and that getting a job now depends on who is standing behind you must be addressed with transparency.”

Kukah emphasized on the need for efforts to address such issues swiftly to foster a more inclusive society conducive to nation-building.

“Nation-building is a process, but there are so many things that need to be fixed. Some of the building materials, which largely require a lot of effort from you and me, have been improved, and more can still be done. However, there are too many things that we need to try to fix very quickly.”

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *