Yuletide: Avoid divisive messages, FG tells religious leaders

From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja


The Federal Government has urged religious leaders in the country to refrain from stoking the embers of hatred and disunity in this Yuletide season.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement by the Special Assistant to the President (Media), in the Office Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, warned that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences in the country.

‘’While religious leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony,’’ Mohammed said.

The warning by the Federal Government is coming a day after the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revd (Dr) Matthew Hassan Kukah, in his Christmas message, “A Nation in Search of Vindication,” said President Muhammadu Buhari was pursuing a northern agenda in the governance of the country.

Kukah had said in his Christmas message that “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 got 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.”

Also, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Revd (Dr) Paulinus Ezeokafor, said most Nigerian leaders have outlived their usefulness in the country, urging them to give way to a new crop of young leaders.

But Mohammed further 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.

Mohammed said: ‘’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 also said that instigating regime change outside the ballot box was not only unconstitutional, but also an open call to anarchy.

While saying that some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, Mohammed, however, said they should refrain from stigmatising the leader they have never supported in anyway, using well-worn and disproved allegations of nepotism.

He maintained that whatever challenges Nigeria might be going through at this moment could only be tackled when all leaders and indeed all Nigerians came together, and not when some people arrogantly engaged in name-calling and finger-pointing.


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