The Presidency has knocked the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, over his comments on insecurity and President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged nepotism during a virtual appearance before the United States Congress.
In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, described as ”unfortunate, and disappointing”, for the clergy to ”castigate” the country in front of representatives of a foreign parliament.
Kukah had told the US congress that Nigeria was helpless in tackling insecurity and accused Buhari of not showing commitment in tackling insurgency and banditry in the country.
The priest also accused the president of pursuing a nepotistic agenda by appointing people from his tribe and religion to key positions.
Kukah added that Christians are being persecuted by Islamic insurgents, noting that christian schools were mostly targeted by terrorists and bandits.
Reacting, Shehu called on Kukah to “desist from lying and sowing discord” among Nigerians.
”We are all too familiar with these overseas political tours that opposition politicians take – visiting foreign leaders and legislators in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. So, the argument goes, if they are heard seriously abroad, then Nigerian citizens back home should surely listen to them too,” the presidential aide added.
“But in order to be heard at all, and to maximise media coverage back home for their activities, inevitably these visits involve painting the worst possible picture of our country before their chosen foreign audience.
“Soon enough we inescapably hear an identical list of racist tropes against northerners, how one religion dominates governance above all others, and how the government is doing nothing to address herder-farmer disturbances.
“And how the government spends money on infrastructure to benefit everyone but the group and religion of the speaker.
“Of course, in order not to disappoint their western audience, regardless of fact, the list is always the same-and always slanted for whoever wishes to cross-check,” he said.
Shehu emphasised; ”There is no bias in this government when the president is northern and Muslim, the vice president southern and Christian, and the cabinet equally balanced between the two religions. But neither is there anything in our Constitution to state that political posts must be apportioned according to ethnicity or faith. It takes a warped frame of mind for a critic to believe ethnicity is of primary importance in public appointments. It is yet more troubling to hear a Churchman isolating one group for criticism purely on ethnic lines.
”With due respect to the esteemed position he holds, the Bishop’s assertion that only Christian schools are being targeted by bandits or terrorists is not supported by the facts on the ground. It is sad to say but also true that victims of crime, kidnapping, banditry and terrorism cut across all strata of the society.
“Sad but true that Kankara students in Katsina State were stolen by bandits of the same Islamic faith as those they took away. The same may be true of those who are still holding the 134 students of the Islamic School at Tegina in Niger State.”