The Federal Government has urged religious leaders in the country to refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity, warning that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.
This seems to be a reaction by the Federal Government to the Christmas message by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto.
Kukah had in his message said President Muhammadu Buhari has sacrificed the dreams of Nigerians on the altar of nepotism by allegedly pursuing Northern hegemony.
He said, “President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him for what seemed like a programme to stratify and institutionalise northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second-class status. He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion.”
However, a statement released on Saturday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, 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 it was particularly 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.
”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 that instigating regime change outside the ballot box is
not only unconstitutional but also an open call to anarchy.
He said 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 well-worn and disproved allegations of nepotism or whatever.
The Minister said whatever challenges Nigeria may be going through at this moment can only be tackled when all leaders and indeed all
Nigerians come together, not when some people arrogantly engage in name-calling and finger-pointing.