President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday has quoted portions of the Christian Bible to attack Bishop Mathew Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese for castigating him during his recent appearance before the United States Congress.
President Buhari berrated the bishop in a statement issued by his senior media aide, Garba Shehu and made available to Journalists.
Buhari in the statement said it was troubling that “a so-called man of the Church” would behave like politicians who criticise those in power for self-aggrandisement.
Kukah, during a virtual appearance before the U.S. lawmakers, had reportedly accused Buhari of favouring Muslims in his appointments, using the president’s appointment of Service Chiefs as example.
He also told the U.S. Congress that, “For the first time in Nigeria, the first three persons: the President, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representative are all Muslims,” stressing that, “This has never happened before. So, we require practical and measuring assistance that can help us and our children.”
But responding in a statement on Sunday, Buhari criticised the Clergy and accused him of doing his best to “sow discord and strife among Nigerians”.
He also quoted Romans 2:9-10 in the Bible which states that “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil”
The presidential aide noted that no part of the constitution governing the country demands that his principal must balance his political appointments based on ethnicity or faith.
The statement read: “There is no bias in this government when the president is northern and Muslim, the vice president southern and Christian, and the cabinet equally balanced between the two religions. But neither is there anything in our Constitution to state that political posts must be apportioned according to ethnicity or faith. It takes a warped frame of mind for a critic to believe ethnicity is of primary importance in public appointments. It is yet more troubling to hear a Churchman isolating one group for criticism purely on ethnic lines.
“With due respect to the esteemed position he holds, the Bishop’s assertion that only Christian schools are being targeted by bandits or terrorists is not supported by the facts on the ground. It is sad to say but also true that victims of crime, kidnapping, banditry and terrorism cut across all strata of the society. Sad but true that Kankara students in Katsina State were stolen by bandits of the same Islamic faith as those they took away. The same may be true of those who are still holding the 134 students of the Islamic School at Tegina in Niger State. The nation witnessed the sad incident of the female students abducted by bandits at Jangebe in Zamfara State and the over 100 predominantly Muslim students of the Federal Government Girls College Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State who are currently in captivity- and the nation’s security agencies are hard at work to release them unharmed.
“The attack on Christian students is sad and unacceptable; so also is the abduction of students of other faiths. The claim that only Christian schools are being targeted is totally untrue.
“As a nation and a people, we must together define evil as evil. We must not allow our religious differences to divide us. No one gains but the evil doers when we divide our ranks according to ethnicity and religion in confronting them. The bandit, kidnapper and terrorist are the enemies of the people who should be confronted in unison.
“To be clear, The Bible is definitive on matters of ethnicity and racialism: In Romans 2:9-10, it says: “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good”; And in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Whether Christian or Muslim, we stand by these beliefs and are steadfastly committed to them in governance.
“There is no place in mainstream civil discourse for those who actively, negatively, and publicly label an individual ethnic group, especially before a foreign audience. These are not the views expressed or opinions held by the vast majority of the citizens of Nigeria. For all our challenges as a nation, nearly all of us seek to live together in harmony, celebrating differences, and finding common ground as Nigerians above all. But people like Kukah are doing their best to sow discord and strife among Nigerians.
“More than any other set of people, leaders – in politics or religion who preach respect for truth have a duty to practice it. It is a moral and practical responsibility,” the statement added.