The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Matthew Kukah, has said no amount of intimidation would silence him for speaking the truth, saying he has paid his dues.
Bishop Kukah stated this on Tuesday in an interview on Arise TV while responding to the Presidency’s reaction to his Easter message last Sunday.
TheFact Nigeria reported that the catholic cleric had said President Muhammadu Buhari had divided Nigerians on ethnic and religious lines.
The Presidency in a statement by the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Kukah and other critics were the ones dividing Nigerians with words.
Reacting to the statement from the presidency, Kukah said: “I delivered my sermon to our congregation at Sokoto Cathedral and I’m aware of the state of mind of my two friends, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu but am not worried.
‘’Unless Garba Shehu is ready to convert to Christianity, I appreciate that he quoted some Bible passages but he misinterpreted it, which is very embarrassing. But the one that surprised and embarrassed me most is that of Femi Adesina who is a member of Foursquare Gospel Church that was unable to help his friend put facts together.
‘’I have made offer to them to chose venue and time for us to meet and debate about Nigeria, starting with Minister of Information, and the two media aides to the president.
‘’It is very sad that they don’t talk about issue, they are inefficient, and they are used to writing statements as opposed to talking to Nigerians about government policies. That shows you that what they are writing is just guessing the mind of the president. They don’t have contact with the president and government policies.
“I have served four presidents since 1999 in different capacities, such as Oputa Panel, member of electoral reform committee, political reform conference. I also contributed during Obasanjo’s government to reconcile people of Ogoni land with Shell. I played a crucial role in the signing of peace accord between General Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan.
“When we were busy on how to make Nigeria work and achieve peaceful country, Femi Adesina was busy working for Orji Uzo Kalu at Sun Newspaper, while Garba Shehu was busy working for Atiku and Lai Mohammed was with Tinubu at that time.
“The reason I am emotional and personal about things of this country and where we are today is because I have paid my dues. So let everyone of them tell me where they are at the most critical moment of Nigeria history.
‘’My two friends are desperate to be seen that they are doing their jobs. Nigerians know that they did terribly bad jobs on the assignment given to them. Buhari knows that I have great respect for him and he is a gentleman but for me, as president of Nigeria, he has done a terribly bad job.
“For a Muslim to tell me what my Easter message should contain is out of place. When people told me Buhari is angry with me, I told them they are not speaking the mind of the president because Buhari knows where I stand on any issue concerning Nigeria.
“What connects me with Buhari and 99 per cent of Nigerians is not the Catholic Church but my public position on issues of national interest.
“I will keep repeating it that Buhari is unable to effectively manage the diversity of Nigeria. So my advice to Garba and Femi is that they should not sit in their air-conditioned offices drinking coffee and think everything is alright.
“They should rather disagree with the text of my sermon, rather than attack my person. I don’t speak for people to agree with me, I only spoke my mind on issue of national interest. The problem with us in Nigeria is that there is no consistency in the system.
“People need to realise that democracy is not only about building roads, they are about freedom of expression, any attempt to limit it will end in jeopardy. Have we heard in Nigerian history that all security people are Christians or Muslims or from one tribe? Nepotism is horrible and evil because it denies you opportunity to hear from others.
‘’You need to give people impression that they matter, what we are doing is killing democracy and allowing banditry to gain the kind of scope it has gained, that we are using democracy to kill democracy. The fact that our universities are closed means we have opened more doors for banditry,” Kukah said.