By Paul Ejime
Nigeria’s fiery Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese marked his 70th birthday anniversary in Abuja on Wednesday in a grand style.
The expansive Ladikwali Hall of the Sharaton Hotel, venue of the event could not hold the attendees from all walks of life, ranging from religious clerics to government functionaries, state governors, academics, students, civil society activists and his family members.
Politicians, especially presidential aspirants for the 2023 elections did not miss the opportunity to register their presence.
The event featured an engaging panel discussion on the Unfinished Business of Nigeria’s Greatness, with some panellists arguing that the business had not even started.
There was also fundraising for the proposed permanent site of the Kukah Center and presentation of awards to young technological innovators.
Speakers in their tributes and goodwill messages described Bishop Kukah variously as a man of many parts, a social critic, “a good trouble,” conscience of the nation, who often spoke truth to power, and a above all, a Priest of the Catholic Church.
Sokoto state governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal was the chief host, while former President Goodluck Jonathan was the Special guest of honour.
In an apparent reference to ongoing strike by Nigerian University Teachers’ Union, ASUU, Dr Jonathan used the occasion to disclose how he managed to end a similar strike by the same Union during his tenure through a meeting which he chaired.
In his response to the tributes and goodwill messages, Bishop Kukah thanked everyone for their support and words of encouragement. He promised to continue his unsolicited challenging task of interrogating governance and public policies on behalf of the people in the service of God and humanity.
At a reception that followed the Sharaton event, Bishop Kukah showed his other side by dancing to the trending Buga song by Nigerian artist, Kizz Daniel.