He said effort by government to silent dissenting voices was unacceptable and must be resisted.
Bishop Matthew Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Archdiocese., yesterday, responded to attacks on him over his Christmas Day message, urging Nigerians to ignore the lie against him.
He disclosed this in a chat with journalists yesterday, and asked Nigerians to dwell on the statement he made, not on lies against him, He explained that his message, titled ‘Another Christmas with Dark Clouds of Death,’ was based on his love for the country without any political or ulterior motive.
On the attacks on him, he said he was pained that his critics had failed to see that many innocent lives were being lost on daily basis and had failed to show concern for the loss of lives in the last ten years, even before the advent of this administration.
He said: “The reactions are a reflection of every citizen that make up Nigeria. It is sad that when you drop something in Nigeria, everybody goes back to their enclave and abandons the larger picture. I am someone who never takes offence to what people say about me.
“What I said was my opinion based on evidence and what has happened in Nigeria, and if you looked into the records, there is evidence that justifies that statement, and if anyone thinks I am wrong, they should come out with a superior position.”
He described as unfair news reports that he called for a coup while expressing his personal view about Nigeria.
To those calling him to drop his priesthood cassock and join the political fray, Kukah said if he was to join politics, it would have been during the time of the late Aminu Kano and not now.
He said: “I have no plan and will never play partisan politics for any reason. Those who link my message to partisan politics are only playing to the gallery.
He argued that his views on governance and politics would not make him a politician, saying: “Take, for instance, brilliant Nigerian youths making comments about Chelsea or Arsenal and have never been to England, does that make them players of such club sides?”
He argued that people who called him a politician because of his comments on governance were totally ignorant of elementary politics and the role of a priest.
“Whatever I said can please or displease anyone, but that is my own. I have no problem with Muslims, Christians, or any other religion but what I don’t like is when someone is using a religious issue to play politics, it is wrong.”
COALITION of Nigerian Muslim Professionals (CNMP) and other groups had, yesterday, joined the ranks of those condemning attacks on Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto Catholic Archdiocese. The attacks followed his sermon on Christmas Day, which warned against nepotism and other aberrations that had impeded the country’s growth under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The latest support for Kukah by the CNMP and others came as the cleric broke his silence on the attacks against him, tongue-lashing his attackers and accusing them of deliberately misinterpreting his message to suit their selfish pursuits.
The coalition commended Kukah for “his boldness to speak truth to power.” They faulted those who rose against him over his sermon. In the statement signed yesterday by the group’s National Coordinator, Prof. Mohammed Inuwa, the group noted that President Buhari meant well for the country, but faulted him for some actions taken by his administration against the country’s unity.
The coalition said the country would be a great place to live if it had three persons like the Catholic bishop, saying that persons attacking the truth do so for their personal interests.
It urged the President to see the bishop’s message as a wake-up call with a view to adjusting his policies and programmes for the betterment of the country and Nigerians.
The professionals accused attackers of the bishop as doing so for pecuniary gains and not in the interest of the country. It warned against twisting the cleric’s message to mean that he called for a coup, saying the bishop was too learned to support such ignoble path to installing leadership, saying Nigerians with a conscience would not fall for the antics of those twisting the Bishop’s message.
The group said: “Even during the military era where people dreaded the powers that be at the time, Bishop Kukah, who was then a Catholic priest spoke truth to those at the helm of affairs without fear or favour. He has shown through his actions all the years that he is a true son of Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. We should support him for being bold enough to come out to speak what many Nigerians know is the truth but are afraid to speak out for fear of the leadership.”
It continued: “While we must admit that President Muhammadu Buhari means well for the nation, we must say most people in his government are grossly incompetent and don’t deserve to stay around power even in an uncivilised space.”
The group said it would not shy away from the truth even though most of the President’s actions drawing criticisms were in favour of its region.
It flayed marginalisation of the Igbo in every facet of national life, saying the development was not promoting national cohesion, which nationalists that laid down their lives for the country’s independence wanted.
“There’s nothing wrong with Bishop Kukah’s statement in the actual sense. Some regions particularly the South East have been marginalised in successive governments, and the administration of President Muhammad Buhari came and amplified it with the worst,” it added.
SOUTHERN Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) youth wing and the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), yesterday, joined the list of those declaring their support for Kukah and his sermon.
The Secretary General of ECWA, Rev Yunusa Sabo Nmadu, in a statement, said there was nothing new about what Bishop Kukah said.
“The bishop has spoken our minds and we will resist any attempt by any group or agency of government to harm him. Enough of this intimidation.”
The cleric reinforced Kukah’s position on nepotism, saying: “as a matter of fact, Nepotism under President Buhari’s administration is topnotch. This administration has first class in nepotism and maladministration. The Federal Government must immediately take steps towards addressing those concerns raised by Bishop Kukah, rather than sponsoring fake groups to attack the revered bishop.”
He said the earlier the administration took steps to address the concerns raised by Kukah, the better for the country.
SOKAPU youth leaders flayed the statement credited to Arewa Youths Consultative Forum and signed by its national President, Yerima Shetima, “calling for the arrest of Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah.
A statement issued by the group, signed by its national leader, John Isaac, lamented that despite the obvious lopsidedness in the composition of the security architecture of the country as pointed by Bishop Kukah, the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum allowed itself to be dragged into the “murky waters of tribalism, ethnic loyalty and religious bigotry, choosing to look away the realities of the North which has become a pool of blood and a yard of graves”.