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DAY KUKAH WAS CONSECRATED BISHOP OF SOKOTO

By NBF News
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'The day would forever remain indelible in my mind and all the Catholic members of Sokoto Diocese, in particular and Christians in general, because it was an historical event in a lifetime,' says Coleman Anaele, a member of the diocese who was at the event.|

The making of the new Bishop was preceded by a holy mass conducted by the principal consecrator of the Espiscopal, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, who led other bishops, while the reading of the Episcopal mandate was performed by Msgr. Cletus Gotan, the Vicar General of Archdiocese of Jos.

Okogie also briefed the clergy on the duties of a bishop, and described it as a sacred position which Kukah had submitted wholeheartedly and set to assume it, with words of 'as a steward of the mysteries of Christ in the Church entrusted in Him as a faithful overseer and guardian.'

They carried out the homily examination exercise on the Bishop-elect, by placing an open book of the gospels upon his head, putting of holy ring on his finger, wore of a linen gremial dress and anointed with charism oil, all these, was to formally make him a Bishop. The rites also symbolized his assumption of the pastoral office of Sokoto Diocese while his predecessor automatically retires as Bishop emeritu.

Speakers at the event including President Goodluck Jonathan described Kukah as a great legendary and national asset who should be emulated, given that he is passionately religious in a non sectarian sense and committed to changing national development.

The President, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim, said this was because the need for peaceful co-existence among Nigerians could not be overemphasized especially at this critical period when the nation was facing security challenges. He said going by the contributions the new bishop had been making in the service of God, he had the confidence he would succeed in the new task placed on him.

Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), charged the new Bishop to use his position and build a more inter-religious trust and confidence among Nigerians, noting the high level of disunity among Nigerians due to the diversity in religion and ethnicity: 'Let us promise one another as Christians and Muslims that we will never and again raise up arms against one another or hurt one another, but in love of one another and the country, ensure and assure peace. Let the Christians and Muslims be committed to this, so help us God. We should also appreciate our diversity in tribe and religious.'

The Bishop of Jos Diocese, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama, said the experience he garnered in his stay in Jos had shown that fire for fire approach was not the solution to crises in Nigeria and urged that dialogue remained the best option towards the resolution of the crises currently bedeviling the country. He lamented the failure of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria to live according to the teachings of the two religions of peaceful disposition towards one another. 'Those who used religion as a cover to foment trouble leading to crisis of monumental dimensions must be punished.'

Archbishop of Ibadan and Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Arch Bishop Alaba Job, urged him to carry on the good fight left behind by his predecessor: 'As an activist in the positive sense and a young Bishop, you must rebuild your diocese, and you must put things in good order.'

The Vatican Ambassador to Nigeria, Archbishop, Augustine Kasujja, urged the new Bishop to use the new challenges ahead for self development.

The ceremony was graced with funfare and display of cultural dance troupes, such the Kulu Zango cultural dance, Kaduna State, home town of the new Bishop and St Ann Igbo cultural dance in Sokoto. Prominent among the dignitaries who graced the occasion were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Defence Minister, Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma, governors of Edo, Kaduna and Ekiti states, Adam Oshiomole, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and Segun Fayemi respectively.

Others were former Ministers of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana and Prof. Dora Akunyile, former deputy governor of Plateau State, Mrs Pauline Tallen, wife of Anambra State Governor, Mrs. Peter Obi, Prof. Pat Utomi and Most Rev. John Onaiyekan.

Another highlight of the event was the courtesy call on the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammadu Sa'ad Abubakar III, by the CBCN where the monarch revealed how Kukah assisted him to conduct a research on a national security subject during his days as a participant at the National Institute of Policy Studies (NIPPS), Kuru, Jos:

'It may surprise you to hear that just five months before I became the Sultan, I had cause to seek the assistance of Reverend Kukah in conducting a research given to me as part of the requirements for the completion of my course at NIPPS titled: 'Religious extremism, a threat to national security.' And he obliged.' The Sultan was justifying his point on why religious leaders must work together for the security and well-being of their followers.