Rules out interest in playing partisan politics
ECWA urges FG to address bishop’s concerns
By John Shiklam
The Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah, has rebutted allegation that he called for a coup against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in his Christmas homily.
Kukah, who has come under fire from the federal government and its supporters, said his homily was his personal view “based on evidence.”
However, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), which backed the bishop, has asked the federal government to address concerns raised by him rather than intimidating and sponsoring attacks on Kukah.
Kukah, in his Christmas message, titled: ‘A nation in search of vindication,’ delivered last Friday, had accused Buhari of sacrificing the dreams of Nigerians to institutionalise northern hegemony.
He accused the president of nepotism, saying that there could have been a coup if a non-northern Muslim president had done a fraction of what Buhari has done.
The federal government fired back a day later, saying it is graceless and impious for a 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.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement that was an allusion to Kukah’s criticism of the president, warned religious leaders that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.
The homily generated more reactions on Monday as the president’s Special Assistant, Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) and Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) knocked Kukah while the Catholic Church in Nigeria, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) defended him.
However, against the backdrop of the furore generated by the homily, Kukah told reporters on Monday night that it was unfair for anyone to report that he called for a coup.
“The loss of lives in the last 10 years, even before the advent of this administration, calls for concern.
“The reactions are a reflection of every citizen that makes 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.
“It is unfair for a journalist or news medium to report that I called for a coup while expressing my personal view about Nigeria,” he said.
Kukah also dismissed the challenge to him by his critics to drop his cassock and join politics, saying that if he was to join politics, it would have been during the time of the late Aminu Kano and not now.”
“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.
“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?
“So, why will someone think because Bishop Kukah is speaking therefore he is a politician? People who make this argument are totally ignorant of elementary politics and ignorant of the role of a priest.
“The truth is that a lot of us have not seen a priest saying what I am saying. The truth of the matter is we are all in politics; but party politics for me, no. I am not a member of any political party and I cannot be. If it comes to voting, I do my right.
“Whatever I said can please or displease anyone, but that is my own opinion and doesn’t stop others from saying their own opinion. If you think my motive is wrong, say yours,” he added.
ECWA Urges FG to Address Kukah’s Concerns
The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) yesterday asked the federal government to address concerns raised by the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese of Catholic Church, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, rather than intimidating and sponsoring attacks on him.
ECWA, in a statement in Kaduna by its General Secretary, Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, regretted that there has been uncharitable comments in reaction to Kukah’s Christmas message, especially from some northern groups and Muslims groups despite the glaring truth the bishop said about the Buhari presidency.
In the statement tilted, “Bishop Kukah spoke our minds and nothing must happen to him,” Nmadu said there was nothing new about what Kukah said as he spoke the minds of many Nigerians.
It said: “I have read so many reactions to the Christmas message of our respected Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, with many of them coming from Muslim and Northern groups.
“Some of these uncharitable groups have even called for the arrest of our revered bishop. Arrest a man that spoke the minds of millions of Nigerians. They must be joking.”
ECWA warned that no harm must befall Kukah, adding that it will resist any attempt by any group or agency of government to harm him.
“This style of governance to silent dissent voices by the Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is unacceptable and must be resisted.
“We invite the international community and Nigerians to hold General Buhari and his government responsible should anything happen to Bishop Kukah.
“As a matter of fact, nepotism under General Buhari administration is topnotch. This administration has a 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.
“There is no denying the fact that Nigeria under Buhari is now a centre of bloodshed. Killings, banditry, kidnappings and all forms of insecurities are now order of the day,” ECWA added.
It urged the president to face the job for which he swore to do and fulfill his campaign promises, secure the country and make life better for all Nigerians.