“Bishop Kukah must be allowed to practice his faith and politics,” Mr. Shehu says.
He adds, “Under our Constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibitions. Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity.”
In the five-page Christmas Message issued December 25, Bishop Kukah is critical of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government amid multiple cases of insecurity in parts of Africa’s most populous nation characterized by abductions and killings.
Circulated under the title “A Nation in Search of Vindication,” Bishop Kukah, in the nine-point message, stated, “President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him to what seemed like a program to stratify and institutionalize northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second class status.”
Nigeria’s President “has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion. Every honest Nigerian knows that 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,” the Nigerian Bishop further said in his message.
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Bishop Kukah further said President Buhari was “institutionalizing northern hegemony against national interests,” adding that “if a Southern Christian president had practiced such nepotism, there would have been a military coup in Nigeria.”
Following the controversy sparked by Bishop Kukah’s message, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese came to the defense of his brother Bishop saying, “I stand firmly with Bishop Matthew Kukah’s Christmas message.”
“Where else could I stand, given my conviction that the Bishop of Sokoto wrote it sincerely for the purpose of making Nigeria better,” Bishop Badejo said in a statement shared with ACI Africa.
In his message titled, “A time to stand for truth,” Bishop Badejo underscored, “The truth is that the nationwide insecurity and our government’s tame reaction to the same has become nothing short of a monumental embarrassment.”
It is not the first time a Catholic Bishop in the West African nation has come under fire for his sermon on the welfare of the nation.
In November, Muslim leaders in Nigeria petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other security heads in the country to interrogate Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka Diocese over alleged “hateful sermon” that they say led to attacks on Muslims in some parts of the West African nation.
In his October 18 homily that was based on the #EndSARS protests, Bishop Onah made a comparison of the treatment given to Muslims and Christians practicing their respective faiths in the various regions of the country.
“We hear the Muslim call to prayer from our windows in our bedrooms at 4.00 a.m. and a Christian in Abuja (who) takes her Bible to call people to accept Jesus Christ is murdered by Islamist fundamentalists and nothing happens,” the Bishop bemoaned in his homily published on his YouTube Channel.
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.