• Stop Stigmatising Buhari, FG Cautions Clerics
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Mathew Hassan Kukah has said the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to address the nation’s problems, and that the administration policies have worsened the country’s socio-economic and political condition.
Bishop Kukah’s Christmas message, at the weekend, cautioned the President over nepotism, insecurity and the general poverty in Nigeria, which are gradually turning the country into a failed state.
But in a reaction, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture has urged religious leaders in the country to refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity, warning that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.
In the cleric’s view, the North has not been spared by the socio-economic and political woes that have enveloped the nation, as the region has been the worst for it.
He lamented that, “against the backdrop of our endless woes, ours has become a nation wrapped in desolation. The prospects of a failed state stares us in the face with endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomie, domestic and community violence, kidnappings and armed robberies, among others.”
Kukah, who criticised the handling of the deplorable security situation and economic woes in Nigeria said: “Ours has become a house of horror, with fear stalking our homes, highways, cities, hamlets and entire communities.
“The middle grounds of optimism have continued to shift and many genuinely ask, what have we done to the gods? Does Nigeria have a future? Where can we find hope? Like the Psalmist, we ask; from where shall come our help?
“Whatever the temptations to despair, we cannot give up. When the Psalmist asked where help shall come from, he answered that it will come from the Lord. Therefore, like Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, we Priests must stand before the mercy seat of God and plead the cause of our great country. Like Abraham, we must plead for the Lord to save our nation, because we have more than ten righteous men.”
“These are trying but life changing moments in the history of our nation. Politics and economics alone will not resolve our problems.
There is enough hate and bitterness to go around. We need to pause, reflect, pray, be honest and courageous in facing tomorrow.”
He continued, “not unexpectedly, this Christmas is again coming against a backdrop of so much pain, sorrow and uncertainty in our land. We all seem to have become sedated and inured to pain. Tragedy has been standing as our gatekeeper. For over ten years now, at almost each Christmas, a dark pall of horror, sorrow and death has consistently hung in our horizon threatening to eclipse the promises of the joy of Christmas.
“As our country drifts almost rudderless, we seem like people travelling without maps, without destination and with neither Captain nor Crew. Citizens have nowhere to turn to.
“After he assumed power, a delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference had audience with President Buhari. In the course of our discussion, the President shared with us his frustration over the state of decay and rut that he had met. In frustration, I vividly recalled him saying that, from the decay and neglect, it seemed as if preceding governments had been doing nothing but just eating and going to the toilet!
“Looking back, one might conclude that those were happy times, because at least there was food to eat and people could go to the toilet. Now, a journey to the toilet is considered by the poor as an extra luxury.
Our country’s inability to feed itself is one of the most dangerous signs of state failure and a trigger to violence…”
Condemning the continuous assault by Boko Haram, armed bandits and kidnappers of Nigerians, the cleric said “the challenge now is how to deal with the scars inflicted by a derelict nation, which is still unable or unwilling to protect its citizens.
“Yes, we commend the federal and state governments for the rescue operation. The larger issues now are whether the federal government understands the evil web of intrigues into which Boko Haram has tied it. Will the Federal Government continue to reward and fund Boko Haram by playing its game? For how long can this cycle of deceit last, given that every kidnap merely strengthens their arsenal?
“The men of darkness have shown far greater capacity to shock and awe a forlorn nation by constantly blindsiding us all. When will it all end? This government owes the nation an explanation as to where it is headed, as we seem to journey into darkness. The spilling of this blood must be related to a more sinister plot that is beyond our comprehension.
“Are we going to remain hogtied by these evil men or are they gradually becoming part of a larger plot to seal the fate of our country? President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony, by reducing others in public life to second-class status. He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion. Every honest Nigerian knows 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 got away with it. There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war….
Lai Mohammed’s caution was contained in a statement issued yesterday, by Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culure, which partly read: “Kukah and other religious leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, but such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony”
He said it is particularly 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.
“Calling for a violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government, no matter how disguised such a call is, and casting a particular religion as violent is not what any religious leader should engage in, and certainly not in a season of peace,” Alhaji Mohammed said, adding that instigating regime change outside the ballot box is not only unconstitutional, but also an open call to anarchy.
He said while some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, they should refrain from stigmatising the leader they have never supported anyway, using well-worn and disproved allegations of nepotism or whatever.
The Minister said whatever challenges Nigeria may be going through presently can only be tackled, when all leaders and indeed all Nigerians come together, not when some people arrogantly engage in name-calling and finger-pointing.
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