The Vatican under the leadership of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI yesterday announced the appointment of Catholic priest and erudite scholar Monsignor Matthew Hassan Kukah as the new Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese.
Kukah will replace Bishop J. Kevin Aje, whose pastoral resignation has been accepted.
The Diocese of Sokoto, built in 1964 and a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Kaduna, covers a vast territory of 109,507 sq. km, with 14,133,000 inhabitants, of whom about 44,366 are Catholics. There are 17 parishes, 32 diocesan priests and 7 religious priests, 7 religious brothers and 28 religious sisters . There are 39 major seminarians.
Monsignor Kukah, who is presently the vicar-general of the Kaduna archdiocese as well as the parish priest of St. Andrew Catholic Church, Kakuri, Kaduna, was born on August 31, 1952. He had his primary education at St. Fidelis Primary School, Zagom, then St. Joseph Minor Seminary, Zaria, before proceeding to St. Augustine Major Seminary Jos, Plateau State, where he studied Philosophy and Theology.
He was ordained a Catholic Priest on December 19, 1976. After his ordination, his quest for knowledge took him to the University of Ibadan, there he obtained a diploma in Religious Studies; he received the Bachelor of Divinity at the Urban University Rome in 1976, then a Master’s degree in Peace Studies, at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom in 1980, and PhD at the famous London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 1990.
However, his most outstanding book that discusses the religious politics of Northern Nigeria - Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria (1993 )received an Honorary Noma commendation in 1994. Furthermore to his credit again, is another book that analyses democracy in Nigeria titled Democracy and Civil Society in Nigeria, then Religion and The Politics of Justice in Nigeria. In 1996 he co-published with Professor Toyin Falola another book titled Religious Militancy and Self-Assertion, Religious Revivalism in Nigeria. Other books include
The Shattered Microcosm. The Collapse of the Moral Order in Africa, and The Mustard Seed, then Towards a Just Democratic Nigeria, The Catholic Church and Politics in Nigeria, and Whistling in the Dark. Apart from compendium of interviews he granted to the media during the military era, others are The Church and the Politics of Social Responsibilities, and Oputa Panel, Human Rights and the Struggle for Justice in Nigeria which is forthcoming.
Kukah, who has several chapters in books, journals and had presented hundreds of papers both in Nigeria and other parts of the world, was also at the famous St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford as a Senior Rhodes fellow from 2002 to 2003, then at the prestigious Kennedy School of Government (KSG) Harvard University Boston, Massachusetts, as Edward Mason Fellow where he bagged MA in public policy in 2004.