The federal government has issued an apparent response to the Christmas message from the Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, bishop of the diocese of Sokoto, accusing him of calling for a coup.
In a statement released in Lagos, Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed urged religious leaders to refrain from fanning the embers of hatred and disunity.
Mohammed warned that resorting to scorched earth rhetoric right now could trigger unintended consequences.
“While religious leaders have a responsibility to speak the truth to power, that truth must not come cloaked in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony,” Mohammed said.
Kukah turned his Christmas message into a state of the nation address on Friday, criticizing President Buhari for implementing policies of nepotism and northern hegemony.
He criticized the government for the insecurity in the country, saying that Buhari’s parish policies have only worsened the insecurity situation, especially in northern Nigeria.
“Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way that a non-northern Muslim president could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done with his nepotism and get away with it.
“There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war,” Kukah said.
Kukah said that most people are now lamenting the sorry situation in the country, considering the bad economy and the wave of kidnappings, banditry and terrorism.
“What have we done to the gods?” He asked rhetorically while claiming that the country is now almost rudderless under the watch of Muhammadu Buhari.
Everyone is now mourning the sad situation, said the frank and respected bishop.
“The United Nations has lamented. The Pope has wept. Cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, pastors have wept. The emirs have lamented. Politicians have lamented. The sultan has wept, ”he said.
Mohammed did not address the main issues raised by Kukah in his response on Saturday.
Mohammed only raised sentiments about religious leaders who did not return to the pulpit to make critical statements at Christmas.
The minister said it is particularly impolite and impious for any religious leader to use the Christmas period, which is a season of peace, to fan the embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity.
“Calling for a violent overthrow of a democratically elected government, no matter how covert that call is, and calling a particular religion violent is not what any religious leader should do, and certainly not in a season of peace,” Alhaji Mohammed said. .
He said instigating regime change outside the polls is not only unconstitutional, but also an open call for anarchy.
He said that while some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, they should refrain from stigmatizing the leader they have never supported anyway, using spent and disproved accusations of nepotism or whatever. .
The Minister said that any challenges that Nigeria may be going through at the moment can only be addressed when all the leaders and indeed all Nigerians join in, not when some people arrogantly engage in swearing and finger pointing. .