MURIC to Kukah: Aguiyi-Ironsi, NOT Buhari, started same-religion leadership in Nigeria

Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has tackled Matthew Kukah, Catholic bishop of Sokoto, over his comment which suggested that President Muhammadu Buhari started the same religion leadership in 1983.

MURIC said Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, first Nigerian military head of state, picked a Christian deputy in 1966.

In January 1966, Aguiyi-Ironsi became Nigeria’s first military head of state after a coup, but he was killed in a coup in July 1966.

Last Thursday, Kukah, in an interview, said to discuss the 2023 APC Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, Nigeria must return to “scene of the crime” in 1983 when Buhari appointed Tunde Idiagbon, as his deputy.


“In 1983, when General Buhari came in as head of state, he took Idiagbon. Sadly, Nigerians were very excited. Maybe that is where we should have returned to as a scene of crime,” Kukah had said.

“It broke tradition, completely. The whole issue was that two Muslims from the north of the same religion would govern Nigeria, but Nigerians gave them that concession.”

Reacting to Kukah’s comment, MURIC, in a statement by Ishaq Akintola, its director, said the Catholic bishop was being “economical with the truth” on the history of same religion leadership.


“While speaking on Channels Television programme, ‘Politics Today’ on Thursday 11th August, 2022, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Mathew Hassan Kukah, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of starting same-faith leadership in Nigeria when he picked Tunde Idiagbon as his deputy in 1983,” MURIC said.

“But Father Kukah was being economical with the truth. We all know that Nigeria’s same faith leadership phenomenon started long before Buhari became military head of state.

“The sad thing is that some people find it convenient to fall victim of collective amnesia when it comes to Muslim-bashing.

“Fortunately there is also a crop of truth seekers who are keen on putting the records straight and MURIC is pleased to be counted among them.


“How can anyone claim that Buhari started same-faith leadership when we all know that Nigeria’s first military head of state, Major-General Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi Ironsi picked a fellow Christian, Brigadier Babademi Ogundipe, as deputy in 1966. He did not stop there.

“He also made another Christian, Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey, his third in command. Ironsi’s all-Christian regime was succeeded by another all-Christian leadership led by General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) with Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey as his second in command.

“In retrospect, we note that Nigerian Muslims did not complain about Christian-Christian leadership for once throughout this Christian administration and Gowon ruled for nine good years from 1st August 1966 to 29th July, 1975.

“The question MURIC is asking is this: if the Muslims can tolerate a Christian-Christian leadership for nine years (1966-1975), why can’t Nigerian Christian leaders stomach the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket?


“Today’s Christian leaders have one major characteristic in their Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid (DNA). It is intolerance. Unfortunately DNA is the main constituent of chromosomes and it is self-replicating. Therefore this intolerance chromosome in today’s Christian leaders may not disappear too soon.

“Political clerics may get away with falsehood, deceit and half-truths on the pulpit, but they cannot maradonise Nigerians with any historical inexactitude in public discourse.


“The facts before us prove that Kukah was economical with the truth. He should cross-check his facts properly next time he speaks in public. Nigerians are adept at fact-checking.”

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