Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Saturday, warned the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Mathew Kukah, to stop stigmatising the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The minister, in a statement titled, ‘FG Urges Religious Leaders To Eschew Message of Disharmony’, also warned religious leaders in the country to “refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity” which could “trigger unintended consequences”.
However, The PUNCH had earlier reported that Kukah in his 2020 Christmas message titled, ‘A nation in search of vindication’, on Friday, accused Buhari of nepotism.
The cleric had said, “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.
“He may be right and we Christians cannot feel sorry that we have no pool of violence to draw from or threaten our country. However, God does not sleep. We can see from the inexplicable dilemma of his North.”
Reacting on Saturday, the minister said 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”.
Mohammed 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”.
Making an apparent reference to Kukah’s statement that there could have been a coup or war in the country should any other leader exhibit Buhari’s “nepotistic behaviour”, the minister warned, “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.”
“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,” Mohammed further stated.
“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,” he added.