Reverend Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah surprised guests yesterday at an induction symposium for new governors organized by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) when he ripped into the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
He accused both men of conspiring to impose late Nigerian president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua upon the nation via a fraudulent election in 2007. Goodluck Jonathan and Bola Tinubu were presesent in the hall when he made the observation.
The straight-shooting Catholic priest and scholar was a Guest Speaker at the event which had been organized to prepare elected state executives for office.
Jonathan looked a bit uncomfortable on his seat as he listened to the speech. But Fr. Kukah further jolted him when he drew attention to his new book, "Witness to Justice, An Insider’s Account of Nigeria’s Truth Commission,” and urged participants to buy it. In 1999, Kukah was appointed by President Obasanjo to the ‘The Judicial Commission for the Investigation of Human Rights Violations;’ the book is a searing look into his service on the panel and on key issues in Nigerian public life.
The author, who is currently the is Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Kaduna, however said he would not ask Jonathan to get one until he is properly sworn-in on May 29. The remark was interpreted by Jonathan's aides as a coded message telling Jonathan that his election to office, which has attracted serious scrutiny in recent days over Southern magic numbers allocated to him, still rankles critical people.
Also speaking at the occasion, elder statesman, Maitama Sule, critically lamented the spectre of failed governance. The third speaker, former Commonwealth Secretary General, Emeka Anyaoku, spoke diplomatically and patronizingly. Anyaoku had also served as a member of Jonathan's Presidential Advisory Council, which was dissolved by Jonathan two days ago as he prepares to concentrate power in his hands. The PAC, led by former Minister of Defence, Rtd. Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, had been critical of some of his tendencies.
The event was held at the Banquet Hall of Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja. Although, the official website of the president reported Jonathan's comments at the event as well as those of other participants, it did not mention a word of Fr. Kukah's participation.