By Udora Orizu
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has expressed its support for the assertion by the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, on the state of the nation.
Kukah had in his 2020 Christmas Message said President Muhammadu Buhari was presiding over a country with prospects of a failed state.
He also said that there was no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari had done by his nepotism and gotten away with it, adding that there would have been a military coup or war.
Reacting, the Federal Government had 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.
It also said calling for violent overthrow of democratically elected government was not what a religious leader should engage in.
But, 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), condemned the reaction of the Federal Government.
The forum said 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.
According to the statement, ”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.”