The Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum (SMBLF) has backed the assertion by the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, on the state of the nation, declaring that the cleric remained a national icon and a hero of the masses.
Kukah had, in his 2020 Christmas Message, said President Muhammadu Buhari was presiding over a country with prospects of a failed state and that there was no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Buhari had done by his nepotism and gotten away with it.
But in its reaction to the cleric’s outburst, the Presidency said it was 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.
Condemning the response of the government, the forum in a statement jointly signed by Mr. Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Chief Guy Ikoku (South- East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle-Belt), demanded an immediate apology to Bishop Kukah for the baseless attacks. “The leadership of the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum notes with very serious concern and condemnation the outbursts of the Presidency and the Northern Elders’ Forum over the Christmas Day Message of the revered Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah. “The outspoken cleric, who has been a beacon of truthfulness over the years, remains a foremost defender of the aspirations of millions of Nigerians across ethnic and religious lines. On this occasion, his comments have been applauded by the majority of Nigerians and we all stand with him,” SMBLF said. The forum, while reminding those that had been pouring venoms on Kukah over his Christmas sermon that the voice of truth and reason can never be suppressed successfully, further reminded the Federal Government and its attack dogs that they had, in the past, equally welcomed the cleric’s forthright views when it favoured them, querying: “So why attack him now when he cautions them on their divisive policies?”
SMBLF, while noting that the country had today become terribly divided along all kinds of lines, said it was shameful and indefensible that suddenly the Federal Government was dominated by one small ethnic group and still expected all the citizens to keep quiet like slaves.
According to SMBLF, this is happening amid worrisome insecurity, which it said had become a tsunami of a kind “and even up to Mr. President’s doorstep in Katsina when he was home recently on holiday.”
The Forum said what it expected from those concerned was to retrace their very unhelpful steps and get back to rekindling oneness in the country, adding: “We once more can call on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to restructure the country.
“Finally, we remind those concerned that the voice of truth and reason can never be suppressed successfully. Bishop Kukah remains a national icon, a hero of the masses. We, therefore, demand an immediate apology to him for the baseless attacks,” the forum demanded.