Only one conclusion suffices after reading Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah’s homily at the funeral mass for Michael Nnadi, a seminarian killed recently by his abductors; and that is to say, nothing more to add. However, I am here now like that man at the village meeting, who, after listening to all the arguments and agreeing with every position stated, will still stand to say “chairman, everyone who has said something on this issue has actually spoken my mind, but what I want to add is…” Bishop Kukah spared no word in capturing the mood of the country. In that homily, he spoke truth to power. That is the vocation of the priesthood. The priest should be the voice of the voiceless and Kukah did just that. The rest is, however, for those who have ears. If they elect to hear, so be it. 

But something else! Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), spells out what exactly should, and must be, the primary function of government. It said at S.14 (2)(b) that: “it is hereby, accordingly, declared that (b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Before that at S.13, the same constitution stated thus: “It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.”

As a layman who is not versed in the interpretation of the constitution, I am forced to fall back on my poor understanding to the English language, in which those sections were written in, and look at the inner details of the words as captured in S.13 and S.14(2)(b). I am inclined to interpret those to mean that all functionaries of government, elected and appointed, from the President down to the councilor, including those in the executive, legislature and judiciary, whether a security expert or not, together, failed to ensure the “security and welfare” of Michael Nnadi. They also conspired to deny ‘security and welfare’ to Leah Sharibu, Rev. Lawan Andimi, Ropvil Dalyep and ALL who had been felled by terrorists bullets and bombs, or had their throats cut by their sword for no other crime other than being Nigerians and living in a Nigeria where a Muhammadu Buhari reigns.

Recall that this section of the Constitution was a most popular quote of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as an opposition political party prior to the change of guards in 2015. Today, the party, the government it formed and its officials, who masquerade as serious-minded, no longer remember the section. No official of the government that it formed, since 2015, had called attention to those lines. For them, masquerading is of deeper essence. Pretending that ‘security and welfare’ of the people are not actually the primary functions of government, but unrestrained idolization of, and genuflection before the President, is reason for the total collapse of security in Nigeria.

Isn’t that reason the President and Commander-in-Chief would sit before the world to confess his surprise that Boko Haram was still potent? That is a timeless confession that exposes the disconnection between reality and fiction. Ask, what briefs does the President get during those endless security briefings with his Service Chiefs? Did they not hand him the flag of BH at a ceremonial to indicate total defeat? If he is not given accurate details of security situation across the country, then, the problems are much deeper than they eyes can see. Now, a video of the President telling an NTA reporter that Nigeria is a terrific country, has gone viral. “I think I have come to accept the reality of leadership in Nigeria; you can only try. It is a terrific country,” were his words in the video… from a President to whom all look up to for direction.

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Today, the voices calling for change of guard in the leadership of the security services, as a way of reinvigorating their operations, are deafening. That is a sad indication that people no longer feel the impact of ‘security’ component of their contract with government in their lives. No doubt, problems have been created within the security organizations because of the stagnation which the policy of retention had caused. That policy has fragmented the military and killed dedication. Yet, the proclivity to stick to a failed experiment wouldn’t permit a rethink.

But the troubling aspect of Bishop Kukah’s homily is the reference to the stifling of religious freedom in the north, an expression that has kept Leah Sharibu as sex slave of terrorists while her mates and co-abductees, enjoy their freedom secured by the state. I still recall an interview I conducted in 2014 with a delegate from Kaduna State. He is a Professor and is of the ECWA Church. He had his signature on the demand for the creation of Southern Kaduna State and that got me thinking, and wanting to interview him.

One of the questions I asked him was why the demand for the creation of a state for the Southern Kaduna people. He drew deep breathe; cast that look that suggested that I asked a very stupid question before he opened up to talk to me. What I took away from that interview is that most Nigerians living south of the Niger do not really know what their fellow countrymen and women living north of the Niger, go thorough to practice their Christian faith. Kukah also captured that succinctly in his homily. It is for such stifling conditions that Michael Nnadi was murdered because when a seminarian or a priest is abducted, the intension goes beyond ransom. Sadly, murders such as that of Michael are celebrated in some quarters as evidence of advancing conquest.

Fortunately, for those who had reason to make an excursion through comparative religion, the beauty of religion is blighted by extremism and bigotry promoted by few people and supposed leaders who are intolerant of other views and expressions because they lacked the capacity to fathom why contraries exist. God would have wasted time creating, and perfecting, the world if he intended it to be, either for a particular religion or the sword. But that is what Boko Haram and its promoters ask for.

Michael has paid the price because those who the Constitution said it shall be their “duty and responsibility” to ensure that “security and welfare” are the primary functions of government –and this includes “all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers” failed in their duty to secure and defend him even after he contracted and permitted them, through his electoral franchise, to use all means constitutionally possible to do so. Yes, they failed and as the Scripture said at Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”