Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The President, Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, Sunday said he was told by Christian leaders resident in Borno State that the state Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, was not â€œnarrow-minded and myopicâ€ but fair to adherents of all religions.
Kaigama, who led Catholic Bishops across the country on a visit to Borno State to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Maiduguri catholic diocese (1966 to 2016), said during a courtesy visit on the governor that, â€œI have met the governor at different fora, and I must say I have been very much attracted to his personality. He is not the narrow-minded and myopic kind of leader. He is a leader whose vision is broad and whose hands are large enough to embrace everybody.
â€œHe is also very humble. I told His Eminence, the Cardinal, that in some places we go, we have to wait for two hours or three in order to meet some government personalities but in Borno State, the governor was the one receiving us and bringing us in. We came from different parts of Nigeria, and we are Catholic Bishops.â€
He further stated that: â€œIt is our tradition to meet always, to interact, to pray, and to express solidarity with ourselves and those who are in need. We are a voice for the people. Our voice is a prophetic voice. We see where things are good, we say it so. Where things are bad, we say it so also. This is our mission, and today, we are in Borno State. We are truly overwhelmed with what we have seen.
â€œI can tell you we are already convinced that the state is on a very high level gear of progress. They say seeing is believing. We have come, we have seen, and we are convinced that there are a lot of good things happenings here. Despite all the negative stories about terrorist attacks and so on, there are determined people on ground who have a capable leader in the person of the governor committed to forging ahead to inspire peaceful coexistence to encourage people to transcend the temporary obstacles in order that they can build a very solid and vibrant state.
â€œWe are witnesses, and I can tell you we shall go from here to Lagos, Ibadan, Onitsha, Calabar, Lokoja and Abuja to tell this story.â€
Earlier, the Archbishop of Maiduguri Diocese, Bishop Oliver Dashe, in his remark, spoke of how Shettima had been rebuilding churches destroyed by Boko Haram in the state, supporting activities of Christian bodies for all denominations and being fair to Christians in the affairs of government the same way he is fair to the more populated Muslim community.
â€œI want to tell you all (Archbishops) that the governor has been a father to all of us. Under his regime, we are experiencing fantastic relationship between the government and Christians in this state. He makes sure he carries everybody along as far as his administration is concerned,â€ he stated.
Shettima, in his remark, thanked the archbishops for standing by the people of the state through thick and thin.
He said as a leader, he has obligation to be fair to everyone living in the state irrespective of religious beliefs, ethnicity and place.