Adesina, Shehu attack Kukah for labeling Buhari divisive agent

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*Kukah, Buhari

The presidency has reacted to the message by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev Fr Matthew Kukah who accused President Muhammadu Buhari of being more of a divisive factor than unifying.

Recall that Kukah had in his 2022 Easter homily entitled ‘To mend a broken nation: The Easter metaphor’, carpeted the president for his administration’ abysmal handling of affairs of the country.

“The greatest challenge for Nigeria is not even the 2023 elections. It is the prospects for the reconciliation of our people.

“Here, the Buhari administration sadly has divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history.

“This carefully choreographed agenda has made Nigerians vulnerable and ignited the most divisive form of identity consciousness among our people.

“Years of friendships, cultural exchange, and collaboration built over time have now come under serious pressure from stereotyping.

“Notwithstanding these challenges, religious leaders must recover and deploy their moral authority and avoid falling victim to the schemes of politicians and their material enticements.

He also criticised the government for the worsening corruption and insecurity plaguing the nation stressing that every aspect of life in the country has been destroyed.

“With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy. Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, mosques and infrastructure are broken. Churches, Mosques, infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken.

“Our educational system is broken. Our children’s lives and future are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our roads and rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well.

“One would be tempted to ask, what is there to say about our tragic situation today that has not been said? Who is there to speak that has not spoken? Like the friends of Job, we stare at an imponderable tragedy as the nation unravels from all sides.

“The government has slid into hibernation mode. It is hard to know whether the problem is that those in power do not hear, see, feel, know, or just don’t care. Either way, from this crossroad, we must make a choice, to go forward, turn left or right or return home. None of these choices are easy, yet, guided by the light of the risen Christ, we can reclaim our country from its impending slide to anarchy.

“The greatest challenge now is how to begin a process of reconstructing our nation hoping that we can hang on and survive the 2023 elections. The real challenge before us now is to look beyond politics and face the challenge of forming character and faith in our country,” he said.

In their reactions, spokesmen for the president, Messrs Mr. Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu challenged Kukah show evidence of his assertions.

In a tweet, Adesina said the wicked intention of those who accuse his principal will not succeed.

“Those who divided Nigeria with their mouths, with evil, unguarded speaking, are the ones now accusing President Buhari. How sad! Their wicked intentions shall not come to pass,” he tweeted.

In a statement entitled ‘Kukah’s virus of hate’ Shehu accused Kukah of spreading hate for decades and challenged his to remove his cassocks and” join partisan politics and see how far he can go.”

“…We are surprised- so too are many others- that the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, could still find the time for a lengthy homily on his usual target, Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Nigeria.

“For a man who has been spreading hate for decades, nothing new in the homily, except for the fact that while millions of Christians were remembering the Lord’s crucifixion on Friday, His descent on Saturday, His resurrection on Sunday, and subsequent appearance to his disciples, Bishop Matthew Kukah was playing politics.

“From his pulpit he 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,” Shehu wrote.

He accused the bishop of neglecting the Bible’s teachings in James 1:26: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

He said Easter should be a time for renewal, hope and for those in authority – both temporal and spiritual – to come together in word and deed so those who look to them for example can be inspired by their grace.

“This is not a time for religious leaders to play politics, or politicians to play religion. It is a time, as in Titus 3:9 to “avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless”.

“Yet Bishop Kukah used his sermon purposefully to make dissensions and quarrels about the law. His accusatory list against the government revealed only his hatred for them,” he added.

Shehu further accused Kukah of not substantiating his claims.

“Still, when he accused them of division, he gave no examples: merely assertions emanating from his own mouth. His allegation of ethnic and regional divide was innuendo without proof, and he gave none.

“His list of things he claims as broken – from churches to mosques to schools and motorways – belie all those that have been built, and others built anew during this government’s time in office.

Should he feel compelled for whatever reason to criticise the government for what he views as their mistakes the Bible makes clear how it should be done: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness”, Galatians 6:1-2.

“If Bishops or religious leaders believe they have a willing audience for tales of government error or fragility, they do an injustice to their flock by filling their ears with talk of division and hateful thoughts.

Nigeria knows too well Bishop Kukah’s views of the government. He has made quite clear how much he dislikes them from the day they were elected.

“Whether expressing his political views is a good use or an abuse of religious office is for others to decide. But the people of Nigeria have spoken – twice: They support this government at the ballot box. They have not been swayed by hateful talk from any bully-pulpit.

“We respectfully ask Bishop Kukah to leave government to the voters and the politicians they elect, while he concentrates on his job, as it is expressed in James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

“Or else, he should put away his clerical garb, join partisan politics and see how far he can go.

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