Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Most Reverend Antonio Guido Fillipazzi has said before all other things that the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah is first a priest.
The Papal Nuncio made this reminder statement to the crowd of creme de la crème of political and societal class that gathered at the Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Abuja to celebrate the bishop on his 70th birthday.
Fillipazzi said the centre of the man rests in his priesthood, which he can never forget and from which all his activities in the pursuit of justice, interreligious harmony and peace stem from.
He said, “After all other things, we have to remember Bishop Kukah is a priest. After being a priest, you can do many other things. But you can never forget to be a priest. And what he does, he does as a priest.
“He can be many things that are more interesting and more amazing; what I wish for him is that he continues to be a good priest, and a good Bishop.”
In his congratulatory address to the bishop, the Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, His Lordship, Ignatius Kaigama, described Kukah as the “light of the church and the light of the nation.”
The bishop who represented the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and the Abuja Archdiocese while expressing his pride in the pool of society gathered to celebrate Kukah, said, “God has blessed you with so many things. He has blessed you with the gift of priesthood, gift of knowledge, skills of all kinds, and you have used them so well.
“Justice, peace, interreligious harmony and peaceful coexistence, these are the things that preoccupy you. Keep doing them, and may the Lord bless you.”
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and his Ekiti State counterpart Kayode Fayemi spoke of their relationship with the justice seeker and intellectual.
One of the highlights of the event, was the conferment of awards and prizes to the winners of the maiden Bishop Kukah Innovation Prize Award.
The prize aimed at encouraging and raising Nigerian youths’ enthusiasm for innovation and technology, and orbiting them into the Information Communication Technology (ICT), the future of global society saw two young women as major winners of the competition.
Esther Olalude won the Overall Best Prize in the competition for the innovation of reusable sanitary pads for women, receiving the cash prize of N2 million.
Twenty-year-old Rebecca Adeosun got the second (first runner-up) prize of N1 million, for her old recycle initiative; while the third (second runner-up) prize of N500,000 went to Helgg Scooter, a quartet of young men, for their tech innovation.