Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, yesterday doubled down on his attack on the Muhammadu Buhari presidency, maintaining that the president has continued to do a terribly bad job of governing Nigeria.
The respected cleric who also took a swipe at the trio of Lai Mohammed, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesmen, challenged them to a public debate in the achievements of the current administration in the last seven years.
He described the Buhari government as nepotistic, wondering where any government exists all over the world in a highly divided nation, where almost all the security chiefs come from the same religion and speak the same language.
Kukah vowed to continue to stick with his convictions despite the pressure from any quarters, pointing out that he had paid his dues in nation building and has therefore earned the right to criticise any government that is not doing well.
The presidency had accused the Catholic cleric of hatred for the Buhari administration and using the pulpit to play politics in reaction to an Easter message by Kukah where he accused the Buhari government of several failings.
Specifically, Garba said that from his pulpit, Kukah devoted his Easter message not to Christ’s death and rebirth so man might be saved – but to damning the government in the most un-Christian terms.
The government urged the bishop to put away his clerical garb, join partisan politics and see how far he can go, if indeed he thinks he’s popular with the Nigerian people.
But Kukah who doubled down on his criticism of the Buhari government while appearing on Arise Television, THISDAY’s broadcast arm, explained that neither Lai Mohammed, Adesina nor Shehu has any access to their principal.
“I am not unaware of the state of mind of my two friends, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina when it comes to talking about Bishop Kukah. They seem to suspend reason and go into overdrive, unless Garba Shehu has plans to convert to Christianity, or he’s a closet Christian or an anonymous Christian.
“ I appreciate the fact that when it comes to talking, he has not quoted the holy Quran and all he does is to end up with convoluted interpretation of the Bible that are embarrassing in their context.
“And I am surprised that Adesina who I believe is a reverend of sorts in the Foursquare Gospel Church, I am surprised he’s unable to help his friend put the facts together.
“But let me simply say that I have made an offer to them that they can choose the venue and the time and just let me know. I will like to sit down with the three of them beginning with their honourable minister, Lai Mohammed, let us sit down together and talk about Nigeria.
“These are the only spokesmen who have spent time buying photocopying papers and simply typing. They have been involved in statements of the poorest quality, never talking to the issues. The first thing is to show you their inefficiency. They are used to writing statements as opposed to talking to Nigerians about policies.
“And what this simply tells you is that 99.9 per cent of the things they write are simply second-guessing what the president’s mind is. They have no contact with the president, they have no contact with the government policies and all they do is writing on behalf of the president. There’s nowhere in the world where the job of this nature has been done so poorly,” Kukah stated.
He recalled that since 1999, he had served in various capacities under at least four presidents including the Oputa panel, the electoral reform committee, the political reform conference as well as shuttling throughout the country.
In the course of national service , Kukah noted that he went to Ogoni land on a reconciliation tour as well as being instrumental to the signing of the peace accord between the then candidate Muhammadu Buhari and Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan after the current president said if the election did not go well it will be a bloody fight between the monkey and the dog.
According to him, while he was sweating around the country to ensure the peace and stability of the country, Adesina was receiving salaries from Orji Kalu in the Sun Newspapers, Garba was working for Atiku Abubakar while Lai Mohammed was working for Ahmed Tinubu.
Insisting that he had paid his dues, he challenged his critics to tell Nigerians where they were at the most critical moments of the country. “Now that some people’s bank accounts have swollen, they are preaching the gospel to us which they do not believe,” he quipped.
However, he said that he still has a lot of respect for the president, but stated that Buhari has done a terribly bad job of governing the country. “He has done a terribly bad job and nothing I am saying is new,” Kukah added.
He called on the presidency to point out a single point he made that was wrong in his homily, stressing that it was insulting that Garba, a Muslim, should instruct him what to preach on Easter day.
Maintaining that he would continue to express his thoughts on national issues, Kukah stated that Buhari lacks the capacity to manage Nigeria’s diversity.
“I am not the first person to disagree with Buhari’s policies. His own wife has said so. And also I live in northern Nigeria. I hear what everybody is saying,” he said.
He declared that truth will always validate itself, noting that he would never equivocate on his ideals and beliefs as a result of pressure.
“If I tell you what I feel about this government, the facts bear me out. We are fighting bandits. Have we ever had a situation in this country when all those fighting insecurity are core Muslims or core Christians and from one tribe. How do you run a country as sensitive as Nigeria like that?
“Nepotism is horrible, it is evil because it denies you as a leader an opportunity to hear other voices. So, you end up in an echo chamber where all of you are speaking the same language and think the same way,” he reasoned.
He told Buhari that he wasn’t voted by only one religion or region, saying that the present government was “killing” democracy, which is why he (Kukah) has become very resistant to the administration.
The cleric urged the Buhari government to make available to Nigerians any of the boxes he has ticked in the last seven years when compared with his campaign promises.
Describing politics in Nigeria as a monologue, Kukah said that Nigerians must insist on service delivery, stating that politics in Nigeria lacks intellectualism which does not interrogate government actions.
“I am not going to take lectures from illiterates who know nothing about scriptures or politics,” he declared, stressing that there’s a fine line between religion and politics, especially for people who criticise his comments which are not flattering if the government.
Culled from THISDAY