Bishop Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic diocese, yesterday, said he only expressed his personal view “based on evidence” and did not call for a coup in his criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari. He insisted he only spoke the truth on Buhari’s nepotism.
This came as a coalition of Nigerian Muslim professionals condemned the attacks trailing Kukah’s Christmas Day Message, where he berated the state of the nation, warning that unless leaders sit up, Nigeria was heading towards a failed state.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, said there was nothing new about what Bishop Kukah said and warned against any attempt to harm him.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, slammed Alhaji Lai Mohammed over his response to the criticisms of President Buhari-led government’s handling of the security situation in the country, by Bishop Kukah, describing same as shameful.
In another development, a member of the House of Representatives, Teejay Yusuf has said that the ongoing criticisms and verbal attacks against Kukah were a deliberate attempt to ignore the genuine issues raised in his Christmas message to the country.
Concerned Tiv Ancestry and Elites, CTAE, a group of eminent Tiv sons said all Tiv people were with Kukah on his Christmas Day massage, noting that he (Kukah) told the truth to the Federal Government.
I spoke my mind — Kukah
Speaking with reporters on Monday night, Kukah said it was unfair for anyone to report that he called for a coup.
“The loss of lives in the last 10 years, even before the advent of this administration, calls for concern,” he said.
“The reactions are a reflection of every citizen that makes up Nigeria. It is sad that when you drop something in Nigeria, everybody goes back to their enclave and abandons the larger picture. I am someone who never takes offence to what people say about me.
“What I said was my opinion based on evidence and what has happened in Nigeria, and if you looked into the records, there is evidence that justifies that statement, and if anyone thinks I am wrong, they should come out with a superior position.
“It is unfair for a journalist or news medium to report that I called for a coup while expressing my personal view about Nigeria.
“I have no plan and will never play partisan politics for any reason. Those who link my message to partisan politics are only playing to the gallery.
“Take, for instance, brilliant Nigerian youths making comments about Chelsea or Arsenal and have never been to England, does that make them players of such club sides?
“So, why will someone think because Bishop Kukah is speaking, therefore, he is a politician? People who make this argument are totally ignorant of elementary politics and ignorant of the role of a Priest.
“The truth is that a lot of us have not seen a priest saying what I am saying. The truth of the matter is, we are all in politics, but party politics for me, no. I am not a member of any political party and I cannot be. If it comes to voting, I do my right.
“Whatever I said can please or displease anyone, but that is my opinion and doesn’t stop others from saying their own opinion. If you think my motive is wrong, say yours.”
Vilifying Kukah for speaking truth to power wrong, says Muslim coalition
But reacting to the attacks on the Bishop, the coalition of Nigerian Muslim Professionals while commending Kukah for what they described as “his boldness to speak truth to power,” faulted those vilifying him.
In the statement by the group’s National Coordinator, Prof. Mohammed Inuwa, the group said: “Even during the military era where people dreaded the powers that be at the time, Bishop Kukah, who was then a Catholic priest spoke truth to those at the helm of affairs without fear or favour. He has shown through his actions all the years that he is a true son of Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. We should support him for being bold enough to come out to speak what many Nigerians know is the truth but afraid to speak out for fear of the leadership.
“While we must admit that President Buhari means well for the nation, we must say that most people in his government are grossly incompetent and don’t deserve to stay around power even in an uncivilized space.
“There’s nothing wrong with Bishop Kukah’s statement in the actual sense. Some regions particularly the South East have been marginalized in successive governments, and the administration of President Buhari came and amplified it with the worst.
“We strongly condemn the wrong approach taken to respond to a message by a patriotic Nigerian by these incompetent people working to derail the president’s agenda.
“It is completely wrong to attack Bishop Kukah by some faceless sponsored groups. Bishop Kukah did not in anyway call for coup, he is too learned to do that.
“We stand completely with Kukah, this government must be fair to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion,” it said.
He spoke our minds and nothing must happen to him —ECWA
ECWA through Rev. Nmadu, said: “I have read so many reactions to the Christmas message of our respected Bishop Kukah, with many of them coming from Muslim and Northern groups.
“Some of these uncharitable groups have even called for the arrest of our revered Bishop. Arrest a man that spoke the minds of millions of Nigerian? They must be joking.
“There is nothing new about what Bishop Kukah said, the Bishop has spoken our minds, and we will resist any attempt by any group or agency of government to harm him. Enough of this intimidation.
“This style of governance to silent dissent voices by the Buhari-led administration is unacceptable and must be resisted.
“We invite the international community and Nigerians to hold President Buhari and his government responsible should anything happen to Bishop Kukah.
“As a matter of fact, nepotism under Buhari’s administration is topnotch. This administration has a first class in nepotism and maladministration.
“The Federal Government must immediately take steps to address these concerns raised by Bishop Kukah, rather than sponsoring fake groups to attack the revered Bishop.
“There is no denying the fact that Nigeria under Buhari is now a centre of bloodshed. Killings, banditry, kidnappings and all forms of insecurities are now the order of the day. The President should face the job for which he swore to. Mr President, fulfill your campaign promises, secure the country and make life better for all of us.
“The earlier this administration takes steps to address these genuine concerns and stop living in denial, the better for them and the country.
“This country belongs to all of us. And no section of this country should be made superior than the other. We are bonafide citizens with equal rights. Enough of this shenanigans. We are watching,” he said.
PDP slams Lai Mohammed’s attack on Kukah
In a chat with TheInfoStride, PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan described Lai Mohammed’s statement as shameful and an attempt to gloss over the issues raised by Bishop Kukah.
“What Bishop Kukah said is nothing but the truth. He spoke truth to power as he has been doing for years. Every Nigerian knows that President Buhari has been a divisive, partisan leader ever since he became the head of government in 2015.
“Nigeria is worse off today than she was before this party took over power. Security is broken, governance is broken with Nigerians almost resigning to fate. President Buhari has failed woefully. This is a fact.
“The Bishop summoned courage to speak truth to power by saying that all hell would have been let loose were a President of Southern extraction exhibit the kind of nepotism President Buhari is known for today,” he said.
On calls in some quarters for Kukah to stick to his evangelistic calling, Ologbondiyan said: “As a Man of God, Bishop Kukah spoke on behalf of his people, ordinary Nigerians who are took weak or powerless to tackle those in power. The Church is the people, not the building. He (Kukah) deserves our collective applause.”
Attacks deliberate to ignore issues raised in his Christmas message —Yusuf
A member of the House of Representatives, Yusuf, who represents Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency of Kogi State in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, said the “needless attacks from the Federal Government and its band of sycophants from the North and other parts of the country reflect untold hypocrisy and double standards.
“Bishop Kukah’s decision to speak truth to power was applauded during the Goodluck Jonathan era but is now being mischievously misinterpreted as a call for insurrection.
“It is even more interesting when the minister with the least level of credibility in the entire Federal Cabinet speaks against the expression of such truthful criticism about grave national issues at Christmas period.
“Just this Monday, we read of report about four different attacks carried out by bandits in Safana and Sabuwa Local Government Areas of Mr President’s Katsina State, where a newly-wedded couple and more than eight persons were abducted with several villagers nursing gunshot wounds.”
While stating that criticism was an essential part of democracy, Yusuf added that those who prefer fawning sycophants to the hard truths from Bishop Kukah were very poor students of history, who were indirectly sabotaging President Buhari and Nigeria’s democracy.
He said, “In the January 6, 1984, letter from then Head of the Federal Military Government, Major-General Buhari to then British Prime Minister, Mrs Margaret Thatcher, he justified the treasonable coup plot that overthrew the democratically-elected Shehu Shagari administration on the basis of failure to actualize citizens’ optimistic expectations.
“Specifically, the letter highlighted corruption in the public service, ‘incompetence in the management of national resource led the nation to accumulate huge internal and external debts’, loss of jobs, inflation and insecurity “whereby hired assassins and marauders were openly beginning to practice their trade in broad daylight.
“Today, contrary to the tripodal utopian promise of “economy, security and anti-corruption” made by the APC Federal Government, all the ills that plagued the Shagari government have become manifestly deepened in dangerous dimensions under the present APC Federal Government.
“Nevertheless, despite necessary criticisms and unavoidable political differences, we must all make it clear that whether it is Buhari or any future President from East, West, North or South, Nigerian citizens will resolutely resist any coup agenda by any military adventurer and their anarchist civilian cohorts.
“Bishop Kukah spoke against currently prevalent nepotism as well as the fearsome indicators of a failed state when he raised issues of ‘endless bloodletting, a collapsing economy, social anomie, domestic and community violence, kidnappings, armed robberies,” Yusuf said.
Kukah spoke for most Nigerians — Concerned Tiv Elites
CTAE, which distanced the Tiv people from the recent statement credited to a group, the Tiv Youth Council, TYC, which berated the Cleric for the sermon, said “It is in the light of the aforesaid that we seek to unequivocally distance the Tiv race and youths from the activities of the Msuaan led TYC.”
CTAE in a statement by its Convener, Gideon Inyom, yesterday, in Makurdi, said: “Their shameful voyage has no link to the Tiv race and their dedication to slavery is a private decision of theirs, a microscopic few.
“It is bad enough to be counted as Tiv sons parading support to a failed leadership and security that has failed to protect our very kith and kin in desperate need of protection.
“Just a few weeks ago, a lawyer was slaughtered with his pregnant wife in the Makurdi metropolis. This stands tall on the many atrocities of killer herdsmen in Benue State.
“Our people are slaughtered in cold blood, sacked from our ancestral homes and perpetuated in poverty and homelessness, yet TYC band holds the firm opinion that security has been improved and that the Episcopal call of His Lordship Kukah was faulty.
“We stand and identify with the sermon of Bishop Kukah, for being the voice of reason and commend his courage to stand strong and bold to say such truth to authority at a time when it is very unfashionable to do so.
“We are proud to say that we adopt this homily as a true and objective admonishment to the President and megaphone the contents of this message to be a creed that will cause a change to this menace that has engulfed this nation heading to its doom.
“We call all self serving individuals who feel they can use group identity for personal gains to henceforth, desist from using the identity of our ancestral heritage, we are proud sons and daughters of our warrior father Takuruku Anyamazenga, who bequeathed onto us, our Tivness, to be an identity that typifies courage, truth and justice – known in our dialect as Gbaaondo without which we are slaves,” he added.