In what appears an apparent reply to a statement made by Matthew Kukah, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, the Nigerian government has cautioned religious leaders not to stir disunity and hatred in the country during the Yuletide season.
Kukah had, in a Christmas message, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of formulating a northern hegemony.
A strong critic of the Buhari administration, the cleric has often described the government as the most nepotistic and narcissistic government in Nigeria’s history.
Kukah said there could have been a coup if a non-northern Muslim president tried a fraction of what Buhari did.
“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,” Kukah said.
“There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war.”
However, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, said such a comment from a religious leader could trigger unintended consequences.
The minister, in a statement on Saturday, said that while religious leaders had responsibility to speak truth to power, “such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony.
”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,” Mohammed said.
Instigating regime change outside election, the minister said, was an open call to anarchy.
He asked religious leaders not to indulge in actions that we’re capable of dividing the country along religious lines.
“While some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, they should refrain from stigmatising the leader they had never supported using well-worn and disproved allegations of nepotism,” he said.
The minister said whatever challenges Nigeria might be going through at the moment could only be tackled when all leaders and indeed all Nigerians come together.
He said such challenges could not be tackled “when some people arrogantly engage in name-calling and finger-pointing.”
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