Matthew Kukah bridges Muslim-Christian divide in Nigeria

(The Christian Science Monitor) When Matthew Kukah first arrived as the new bishop of the Sokoto Diocese in northern Nigeria’s Muslim heartland, he received an unexpectedly warm welcome for a Christian leader.

According to Ku­kah, cultural and religious discrimination in many parts of the north can go all the way to the state governor level. But on the day of Ku­kah’s installation in 2011, the local sultan paid some of his guests’ hotel bills.

Once called a “rabble rouser for peace” by Nigeria’s press, Kukah has been a key voice for unity as he has served in a number of high-level interreligious and governmental roles. Last year, he convened the national peace committee before Nigeria’s presidential election. The committee brokered an agreement between former president Goodluck Jonathan and new president Muhammadu Buhari, ensuring the former accepted the result and handed over the reins of government peacefully.