Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, on Saturday said Nigerians were dying in the face of hardship and insecurity, and the silence of the leaders, whom he said had not shown empathy for the plight of the citizens.
Kukah, who made this known while speaking on the topic, ‘We need to exhale,’ at the May 1 edition of The Platform organised the Covenant Christian Centre, lamented that Nigerians no longer get the sense that their leaders understand their pain.
“A government must develop a sense of empathy and I have said it several times and I do not mean anything negative. Everywhere you turn, this is what Nigerians are saying, that people are dying and we don’t get a sense that those who govern us understand and feel our pain because we have not seen them at our funerals; we have not seen them at condolence visits; we’ve not seen them whether by telephone call or whatever.
“Empathy is not sympathy; empathy is at the heart of who we are as human beings. That is, it is what makes you go to greet somebody who is dying and you put your hand over their shoulder and you tell them it will be okay. Empathy is the feeling of the sorrow, the pain of the other person – indeed, entering the skin of another person,” the cleric said.
Kukah said that the agony faced by suffering Nigerians had been increased by “just simple statements” from their leaders “that really say nothing to us”.
“It (empathy) does not bring healing immediately, but there is a certain kind of psychological comfort that it brings. A woman who has just lost her husband, for example, you go to her to tell her it is okay, she will nod (her head) but she knows that it is not okay. But, at least, if you tell her as a priest it is okay, she knows that somebody feels her pain.
“And the point I am making on the issue of Nigerians dying, the government has come up very short and this is what is increasing the pain, the agony, the sorrow of people, that we are dying alone, burying our people alone and all we get are just simple statements that really say nothing to us. I want to end by saying the lack of empathy and the deployment of empathy has consequences.”