By Uche Amunike
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has joined the Catholic Church, family and friends in the joyous celebration of the 70th Birthday of Bishop Hassan Kukah, Chief Shepherd of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, on August 31, 2022 as he attained the milestone of becoming a septuagenarian.
Speaking through a statement released by his Media Aide, Femi Adesina, the president acknowledged the contributions of the fiery priest through his teachings, preachings and writings and how they positively make impacts in national issues.
He prayed that God will bless the celebrant with a longer life, strength and more healthy years.
The presidential flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu also attended the 70th birthday party of the celebrant, Bishop Hassan Kukah, where he acknowledged him for his contributions to national development and progress in over forty years of his pastoral work.
Tinubu appreciated Kukah’s devotion to duty and compassion, which he called a voice of conscience, in the country, adding that Nigeria owed him a debt of gratitude for many years of service.
Hear him: ‘For over four decades, your homilies as a cleric as well as your contributions as a public intellectual have enriched the national discourse and highlighted the role of morality in the public space.’
‘Seminal articles you have authored demonstrate your abiding concern for the poor and the vulnerable. It is this concern that has led you to take national assignments, such as being a member of the Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission (Oputa Panel), Chief Mediator, Shell-Ogoni Peace Initiative, and currently, as the Secretary of the National Peace Committee.’
‘This nation owes you more than a debt of gratitude. However, knowing the type of person you are, you will never ask for payment of that debt. You will simply continue to give more.’
‘I join millions of Nigerians, family and friends to celebrate this milestone that is your 70th birthday. I wish you well. May you continue to serve God and lead your flock to the best of your abilities. May you always be a voice of conscience and service in this land.’
The presence of the Labour Party Presidential flag bearer, Mr Peter Obi and that of Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu’s running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima was also not lost in the crowd, at the event which was an assemblage of the crème-de-la-crème of Nigeria’s political and religious space.
Chairman of the occasion was the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who lauded Bishop Hassan Kukah with glowing tributes, describing him as a man that had an enduring love for his country, Nigeria. He was represented by former Deputy Governor of Imo State and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, art. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who lauded the septuagenarian for his great belief in Nigeria eventually having a new dawn.
He spoke about Kukah’s unequalled love for a Nigeria that is united and stated that even though his criticisms of the country’s bad governance have so far been contentious, he believed that Nigeria would come out of the murky waters of failed political leadership, someday.
His words: ‘His (Kukah’s) writings over the years have become controversial and have drawn the ire of powers that be, but what is not in doubt is his undying love for Nigeria and Nigerians, and his belief in the possibility of a new Nigeria where justice and equity reigns,’ he said.