Of Bishop Kukah’s Canonization of  Alh. Ahmadu Bello and Alh.Tafawa Balewa.

Of Bishop Kukah’s Canonization of  Alh. Ahmadu Bello and Alh.Tafawa Balewa.


This piece is written to give a little reflection on the posthumous letter written by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, in glorious commemoration  of the 50th memorial  anniversary of the late Northern Nigeria Premier, Ahmadu Bello and First Nigerian Prime Minister, Alh. Tafawa Balewa whose gruesome death were  orchestrated for political reasons during the first ever bloody coup that took place in Nigeria in January,1966.

This title initially sounds bizarre and perhaps ridiculous especially for the Catholic Christians. Canonization should have only been used with regards to the faithful departed whom the church after taking different steps, usually over a long period of time, culminates with the step of canonization as Saints. Or,  maybe, used within the bracket of literature or curriculum development. However, the  context which it has now been applied could seem contradictory.

But  in this context I have used it to refer to the the saintly characterization which Bishop Kukah has applied to express the  absolute conviction he has about the    glorious reward  that  accrues honourable and God fearing personalities no matter their  religious affinity. In this case, he has applied it to characters, who though not Christians or Catholics, have convinced him that due to their exceptional life on earth deserves to share divine beatific reward.

Having provided the above explanation, I am not writing to actually give  absolute accolade to  his position but to truly point out some  significant ways this write up inspires and gives us something to reflect about as a nation.

Firstly is on the  unequivocal patriotic attitude demonstrated by Bishop Kukah.

As a person, Bishop Kukah needs no introduction when it comes to patriotic attitude for national concerns. This article by Bishop Kukah confirms his outstanding drive to proclaim the gospel of peace and love. Bishop  Kukah’s passion to foster love and peace in the Nation is absolutely unwavering.

Over the years, he continues to explore different avenues to step into situations and times which he knew were very sensitive and dicey and needed men of goodwill to intervene. This attitude of his, leaves us with a lesson that we must learn from; that is, the leadership which this country needs is that kind which when posterity remembers us for, will be of great  value and meaning.  Nigeria may be faced with leadership crisis in its interaction with itself and people, however, the character shown by Bishop Kukah should be given serious attention if the next generation of Nigerians must appreciate the efforts of countrymen of other ethnic and religious affinity.
Secondly, Bishop Kukah’s letter is a reminder that we must be people of history.

People who are conscious enough to look back and see how to explore from the good resources of their history and be determined to see how we use it to correct present day maladies so as to build a bright and glorious future for the Nigeria state. I believe that no matter how terrible we look at the years gone by, Nigeria, as a nation have also at some point gotten  certain things right. Despite the troubles that have befallen  this nation in the past, if we should look out carefully we shall see that there were some  significantly transforming moments which today’s nationhood must restore for the  turn around of our present precarious times. Finally Bishop  Kukah even though not a Muslim cleric has chosen to give honour to these two great personalities of Hausa/Fulani Islamic  extraction.

For me, this is extraordinary and leaves me with a great lesson. How many Islamic and Christian clerics can do this? How many of our religious leaders today see the need to foster and commit greater attention to inter-religious dialogue and freedom of worship.

It may not necessarily be with the letters but other possible areas of friendly interactions can still be explored to advocate socio-religious harmony and mutual progress  in the country. Infact, outside this letter it may please us to know that Bishop Kukah has also been engaging the Youth in his diocese – Muslims and  Christians -through interreligious football matches.

The football tournament is known as Kukah Unity Cup and as a participant observer, I can truly say that this tournament has been able to engender love and unity among Youth of different Faith. This is just one of the ways this man is fostering peace across his catchment.

His dedication to peace building, unity, and youth development indeed gives the rest of Nigerians something to think about.

I believe that our present times need us to rise up to the demand of building strong bridges that will sustain peaceful and progressive social relations. We need to really go beyond our narrow minded, parochial and unpatriotic approach to development and Nation Building. Bishop Kukah’s underlining message from his venerable posthumous letter to Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello is highly instructive for us.
God bless Nigeria.

By Abel Idebe Joseph.

The writer is a doctoral student at the department of Theatre and Performing Arts, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He can be reached at:


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