The Federal Government has knocked the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese of the Catholic Church, Rt. Rev. Hassan Matthew Kukah, for stoking the embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity during Christmas.
This was contained in a statement issued on Saturday by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Although the statement did not directly refer to Rev Kukah, Mohammed urged the cleric that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.
The federal government issued the riposte a day after Kukah’s Christmas Day Homily had portrayed the country as a nation wrapped in desolation, where horror stalked everyone on the highways, cities, homes and where the prospects of a failed state stared everyone in the face as a result of endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomie, domestic and community violence, kidnappings, armed robberies, among others.
The cleric, an unapologetic critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, also in his message, described the country as rudderless under the administration, saying the citizens appeared like people travelling without maps, without destination and with neither a captain nor a crew and having nowhere to turn to.
He also contended 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 gotten away with it.
“There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war.”
But Mohammed said that while religious leaders had a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony.
He said it was particularly graceless and impious for Kukah to use Christmas to stoke the embers of hatred 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 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.