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Stop preaching regime change, eschew disharmony, FG urges religious leaders

  • Kukah issues scathing Christmas Message, says Nigeria heading for darkness under Buhari’s regime

The Federal Government on Saturday urged religious leaders in the country to stop preaching regime change and to refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity.

The government warned that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.

”While religious leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony,” the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said in a statement issued in Lagos on Saturday.

Lai Mohammed 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.

The Minister added 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 stigmatizing 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 at this moment 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.

The federal government is apparently reacting to the scathing Christmas message by Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Reverend Matthew Kukah, who on Friday said President Muhammadu Buhari has sacrificed the dreams of Nigerians on the altar of nepotism by allegedly pursuing Northern hegemony.

The bishop also said Nigeria appeared to be heading for darkness under Buhari’s regime, noting that the government must explain the mystery behind the endless bloodletting in the country occasioned by insecurity.

He described Nigeria as a rudderless country where the citizens travelled in a boat devoid of captain or crew and without any maps and destination in sight.

In the Christmas message titled, ‘A Nation in Search of Vindication,’ Kukah said: “This government owes the nation an explanation as to where it is headed as we seem to journey into darkness. The spilling of 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 for 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. The President may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions.”

Kukah maintained that Buhari’s alleged nepotism and commitment to reinforcing the foundations of northern hegemony had dire implications as prominent northerners with a conscience had raised the red flag, pointing out the consequences of his nepotism on national cohesion and trust.

He said against the backdrop of Nigeria’s endless woes, the country had become a nation embroiled in desolation with the prospects of a failed state staring the citizens in the face.

He, however, urged Nigerians not to give up despite the pain, sorrow and uncertainty in the land, enjoining them to pray to God to save the nation.

He added, “Yes, our dreams have been aborted. Yes, our commonwealth has been stolen. Yes, our cancer of corruption has metastasised. Yes, we have been guilty of patricide, fratricide and attempted even suicide. Yes, we are hungry, angry, thirsty and starving.

“Yet, we stand firmly with the unshaken belief that no matter the temptations, the world has known worst times. These may be the worst of times, but for men and women of faith, they could be the best of times. We must stand firm and resolute because, our redeemer liveth (Job 19:25).”

The bishop pointed out that the recent abduction of Kankara schoolboys in Katsina coupled with the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State and Dapchi, in Yobe State, had further revealed the dangers children are exposed to in the northern part of the country.

He added, “The Almajiri is the poster child of the horrible and inhuman conditions of the northern child. It is a best-kept secret that the region refuses to confront but it has now exposed its underbelly. Now, what (is the) next for the children of the North?

“We thank God that the children (Kankara schoolboys) have been returned safely. This is the easy part. 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? How long can this circle of deceit last for, given that every kidnap merely strengthens their arsenal?”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, did not take his calls Friday evening when Saturday PUNCH attempted to get his reaction to Kukah’s message.

He had yet to respond to a message sent to him on the matter as of the time of filing this report.

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