Monday, December 28, 2020 8:58 pm
The leadership of the Catholic Church in Nigeria and the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) on Monday declared support for the Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Hassan Kukah, over the message he released on Christmas Day on the state of the nation.
The Federal Government had responded strongly to the message in which Bishop Kukah lamented the failings of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, especially in the area of security as well as allegations of nepotism that have dogged the government.
The Cleric lamented that Nigeria is gradually becoming a failed state under Buhari with endless bloodletting, kidnappings, banditry, a collapsing economy and unbridled nepotism.
The Cleric also said that every honest Nigerian knew that “there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war,” a declaration which the Federal Government, in a statement by Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Sunday, described as a subtle call for military takeover of government.
Mohammed had in his response to the Cleric said it was graceless and impious for any religious leader to use the period of Christmas, which is a season of peace, to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity.
The Minister further added that a religious leader should not engage in calling for violent overthrow of democratically elected government.
Other groups, believed to be sponsored by the government have since yesterday issued different statements in which they not only condemn Kukah’s statement, but also called for his arrest over the Christmas Day message.
However, while declaring support for Kukah on Monday, the National Directorate of Social Communications of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in Abuja, asked all lovers of truth and justice to rise against the attack on the Cleric and attempt to discredit what it described as ‘the simple obvious truth in his message.’
In the same vein, the Southern and Middle belt Forum in a statement titled, ‘You cannot suppress the voice of reason’, and signed by its leaders, Yinka Odumakin (South West), Chief Guy Ikoku, (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt) said the reaction of the Federal Government was an attempt to stop the Cleric from further intervention in national affairs.
The Catholic Secretariat’s reaction was contained in a statement it titled, “A call in support of truth.”
The Church said, “We are quite aware of the 2020 Christmas Message by our revered Bishop Hassan Kukah and the enormous space it has enjoyed on social media and in public sphere. As expected, the agents of evil have gathered to attack the person of the Bishop and to discredit the simple obvious truth of the message. This is the stock in trade of evil people. However, they often succeed when good people, Christians, choose to do nothing.
“I am therefore calling our attention to this new development so that we can all rise in unison and stand for truth”.
It added that everyone must choose and stand up for what he or she believed in.
Quoting a popular verse by St. Augustine, the Church said that “evil is absence of good”, adding that people should add a voice in support of goodness, in order to forestall the reign of evil.
“The truth about our nation is also that there are only two parties now existing: the good and the evil, the oppressed and the oppressor, the suffering people and the benefiting government officers and their families. Please stop allowing anyone fool you with these cards: religion and tribe,” the church said.
In their own reaction, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum in their statement titled ‘You cannot suppress the voice of reason’, noted that Kukah had been a beacon of truthfulness over the years, and remains a foremost defender of the aspirations of millions of Nigerians across ethnic and religious lines, adding that the voice of truth and reason, can never be suppressed.
“The leadership of the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum, notes with very serious concern and condemnation the outbursts of the Presidency and the Northern Elders Forum over the Christmas Day Message of the revered Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah.
“The outspoken cleric who has been a beacon of truthfulness over the years, remains a foremost defender of the aspirations of millions of Nigerians across ethnic and religious lines. On this occasion, his comments have been applauded by majority of Nigerians and we all stand with him.
“We want to remind the Federal Government and its attack dogs that in the past, they had equally welcomed the forthright views of this Man of God even it favoured them. So why attack him now when he cautions them on their divisive policies? Today, the country has become terribly divided along all kinds of lines. It is shameful and indefensible that suddenly, the Federal Government is dominated by one small ethnic group and they expect all to keep quiet like slaves. Also the wind of insecurity is now almost tsunami and even up to Mr. President’s doorstep in Katsina when he was home recently on holiday.
”What we expected was for those concerned to retrace their very unhelpful steps and get back to rekindling oneness in the country. We once more can call on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to restructure the country. Finally, we remind those concerned that the voice of truth and reason, can never be suppressed successfully. Bishop Kukah remains a national icon, a hero of the masses. We therefore demand immediate apology to him for the baseless attacks.”