39 YEARS AGO – Barely a week to Christmas (Dec. 19) of 1976, Matthew Hassan Kukah received the anointing as a catholic priest. Today, he is the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese in Nigeria. The journey to his present position in the church, however, began over half a century ago at St. Joseph Minor Seminary, Zaria.

Few important personalities in the world today have not heard of Fr Kukah or Bishop Kukah. A great writer and commentator on national and international affairs, the 63-year-old cleric is widely acclaimed as an authority on morality, religious and political issues at least as they concern Nigeria.

Well-read and well-travelled, His Lordship Kukah attended not just St. Augustine Major Seminary in Jos, Plateau State, but also the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, Urban University in Rome, University of Bradford in the UK, and the University of London where he bagged a PhD in 1990.

On occasion, he has described himself as a “minor minority”: he was born in Anchuma, Ikulu Chiefdom in Zangon Kataf LGA of Kaduna State.

Wikipedia records that, between 1999 and 2001, he served as a member of the Nigerian Investigation Commission of Human Rights Violations, popularly called “Oputa Panel”. In addition to his work as a parish priest of Saint Andrews’s parish in Kakuri, Kaduna, from 2004 until his nomination as bishop, he was secretary of the National Political Reform Conference (2005) and from 2005 onwards he has been serving as the chairman of the Ogoni-Shell Reconciliation. Between 2007 and 2009 he worked also in the committee for electoral reform set up by the Nigerian government.

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