Less than 24 hours after Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah, the firebrand Catholic Priest of Sokoto Diocese delivered a damning verdict on the Buhari presidency, the federal government, through its Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has warned religious leaders about the consequences of championing a regime change through other means other than the ballot box.
He described such a call as unconstitutional.
Minister Lai Mohammed issued the warning in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.
Although Mr. Muhammed did not mention the name of any specific religious leader, his warning was seen as a veiled reaction to the Christmas message of the Mr. Kukah, who is the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese of the Catholic church.
It warned that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at a time such as this could trigger unintended consequences in the country.
In a frank assessment of the Buhari administration, Mr Kukah said Buhari has “pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy (nepotism) 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.
“There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war. The President may have concluded that Christians will do nothing and will live with these actions.
“He may be right and we Christians cannot feel sorry that we have no pool of violence to draw from or threaten our country. However, God does not sleep. We can see from the inexplicable dilemma of his North,”
The minister reacting further said: “While religious leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity, and religious disharmony,” he said.
Mohammed believes it is graceless and impious for any religious leader to use the period of Christmas, which is a season of peace, to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife, and national disunity.
He stated that while some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, they should refrain from stigmatising the leader they have never supported anyway, using disproved allegations of nepotism or whatever.
The Minister said whatever challenges Nigeria may be going through at this moment could only be tackled when all leaders and indeed all Nigerians come together.
He stressed that the practice of engaging in name-calling and finger-pointing was one that should be discouraged by all citizens.
“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.