Mixed reactions have continued to trail Bishop Matthew Kukah’s Christmas message in which he said the country was on the verge of becoming a failed state under President Muhammadu Buhari.
Matthew Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, in the message, accused President Buhari of nepotism, saying there could have been a coup if a southerner was the president and had done a quarter of what the president had done.
The Presidency had described Kukah’s statement as an attempt to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity while the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) termed it as “reckless, inflammatory and unguarded.”
Why Kukah Called For Coup – MURIC
MURIC’s Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, in a statement, yesterday, accused Mathew Kukah of referring to Islam as a violent religion and also described him as a first-class blackmailer.
“We are shocked to our marrows by the vitriolic attack launched by Kukah against Islam as a religion. The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese referred to Islam as a violent religion. He also surreptitiously called for a coup against a democratically elected government of President Muhammadu Buhari whom he falsely accused of nepotism.
“This is a most irresponsible pronouncement and we will not allow it to go unchallenged. Kukah’s statement is reckless, inflammatory and unguarded. It is the most egregious, luciferous, serpentine and diabolical statement of the year 2020. Kukah is ululating from the wrong side of the pulpit.
“Kukah is in the habit of demonizing and de-marketing any president who happens to be a Muslim. In particular, we are most disappointed that such a heavily prejudiced and explosive statement is coming from the secretary of Nigeria’s Peace Committee. His behaviour is consistently inconsistent with his status,” Akintola said.
MURIC added that: “Kukah lives in the heart of Islam and he has never been attacked. Kukah also knows how generous and charitable the people of Sokoto have been to him. This kind of allegation should have come from someone else, from somewhere else. Kukah has bitten the finger that fed him.
“We can understand Kukah’s frustration. Import duty waivers on every imported good, including private jets, are no longer available. Neither are billion naira contracts at the snap of a finger. A new Sheriff is in town. This is why Kukah has turned to a blackmailer nulli secundus.
“It is unimaginable that such venom is being emitted during Christmas when all are expected to give love. Nigerians can see what is happening. We send messages of love to Bishop Kukah at Christmas. He responds with pent-up anger, contempt and hate-filled emotion. Is this proper?”
In the same vein, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has faulted Kukah’s Christmas message. Spokesperson of the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said: “The latest attempt by Kukah to destroy the quest for national integration by instigating violence through exploiting cleavages of religious nature to cause disharmony and facilitate the further emasculation of northern Nigerian Muslims is of utmost concern. “It also furthers the irresponsible and unacceptable practice of preachers using the pulpit to promote falsehood and incite their followers against certain sections of the society.”
Your response misleading, inciting – Rev Hayab
In its reaction, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states and the FCT backed Bishop Matthew Kukah, saying the crux of his Christmas homily was being twisted to further divide the country.
Through its vice chairman, Rev. John Hayab, the northern CAN described MURIC’s response as misleading and inciting.
“Reading through Bishop Kukah’s ‘A Nation In Search of Vindication’, CAN is unable to find any expression suggesting an affront to Islam or a call for a coup. Sadly, MURIC aims to incite citizens against one another along the lines of faith instead of denouncing the insecurity witnessed across the country which is the point of Bishop Kukah’s message. From the East to the South, West and all over the North, travelling has become a nightmare while hapless people are dragged from their homes for ransom,” it stated.
It said the memory of the gruesome killing of 76 farmers in Borno State and the abduction of the Kankara boys remains fresh and accused MURIC of keeping silent on those tragedies.
“Now from the blues as Bishop Matthew Kukah talked the truth to power, we read unscrupulous statements aimed at painting black a message that was clear and concise alerting the government of its failure on the security of lives and property of Nigerians,” he stated.
It called on the Presidency, MURIC, and other individuals to eschew intolerance and admit that Nigeria under Buhari has “strayed from the path and vision that the independence of this great country was fought for and won.”
Similarly, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has said that it stood by Kukah. The National Director of CSN’s Social Communication, Fr. Mike Umoh, on Monday in Abuja, in a statement, expressed concern over the incessant attacks on Kukah by those alleging he sought to instigate violence and hinder national integration with his message. Umoh, however, said with the prolonged security and economic challenges facing the country, the Catholic Church in Nigeria stood by Kukah’s position on the state of the nation.
Southern, Middle Belt leaders back Kukah
Also, the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum yesterday condemned what it called the “outbursts of the Presidency and the Northern Elders Forum” over Matthew Kukah’s comment. It said Kukah has been a beacon of truthfulness over the years and remains a foremost defender of the aspirations of millions of Nigerians across ethnic and religious lines.
Spokespersons of the forum, Yinka Odumakin (South West), Chief Guy Ikokwu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South- South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), in a statement , said Kukah’s comments have been applauded by majority of Nigerians and “we all stand with him.”
They said, ”What we expected was for those concerned to retrace their very unhelpful steps and get back to rekindling oneness in the country. We once more call on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to restructure the country.”
(Source: Daily Trust)