Days after releasing his Easter Message to Nigerians, titled; “To Mend a Broken Nation: The Easter Metaphor, to Nigerians where he described Nigeria as having become ‘a national hospital, owing to several broken hearts, dreams, churches, mosques, infrastructure, energy system, security, economy, and others, but with only corruption alive and well,’ the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Tuesday, appeared on the Arise TV’s The Morning Show, as guest.
In the interview, the cleric responds to attacks launched against his message by two of President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aides; Malam Garba Shehu and Mr. Femi Adesina, he also clarifies on his earlier message to the people. Excerpts:
Two of President Buhari’s media aides have come down hard on your message since its release; while Femi Adesina called you one of the ‘armchair critics of the President who use their mouths to divide the country,’ Garba Shehu advised you to join partisan politics. How do you react to these?
“I don’t know whether any of them (Adesina and Shehu) has the ability or the capacity to speak about guilt or no guilt. But let me first of all set that records straight. I delivered my sermon to my congregation in the cathedral.
“So, the bearer of the message is primarily the good people of the Diocese of Sokoto.
“Unless, of course, Garba Shehu has plans to convert to Christianity or a closet Christian or an anonymous Christian; I appreciate the fact that when it comes to talking, he has not quoted the Holy Quran. All he does is end up with some convoluted interpretations of the Bible and embarrassing in their contexts.
“And I am surprised that Femi Adesina, who I believe is a reverend of the sort in the Foursquare Gospel Church; I’m surprised that he’s unable to help his friend who they sat together.
“Now back to the subject. To set the record straight, I delivered the sermon to our congregation and of course, I am not unaware of the state of mind of Adesina and Shehu. They seem to suspend reason, except Shehu has plans to convert to Christianity. All he does is misinterpret the Bible and I am also surprised Adesina can’t help his friends.
“I have made an offer for them to choose the venue and time to sit down and talk about Nigeria. The job of the spokesman is to publicize Federal Government policies and clarification. These are the only spokesman that have involved in all type of writing, never talking to the issue. They are used to just talking rather than clarifying policies. They just second-guess the President while they do the job in an appalling way.
“The spokesmen want to be seen as doing their jobs. President Muhammadu Buhari knows I have the greatest respect for him and he is a gentleman but as a President, he has done a terrible job. The President knows it is nothing personal; the President once said to me, ‘Kukah, I know where you stand on issues.’ If you don’t agree with me, let us clarify. I didn’t attack his person, but his policies. His inability to manage diversity effectively is one of the issues I have with him. I am not the first person to disagree with his policies; his wife also did, so these guys should not sermonise when Nigerians are suffering.
“If Garba Shehu will be man enough to go back, sit and listen to himself in the past six years, he (Garba Shehu) has caused this country so much embarrassment from his statements.
“I can tell you what is happening in Borno, what is happening in Yobe, just as they think they have the privilege of information, we also have. The church is virtually everywhere, a lot of our members have been victims, so we know the story, we know the pains they go through, so there’s nothing that has changed in terms of security challenges in parts of the country.
“So we cannot celebrate our government just because we just want to please anybody in government. “We want to tell our government the truth because we want them to be better and do what is just.”
“What is happening today is that they (government) don’t listen to Nigerians, they only pay attention to praise singers.”
“These are the only spokesmen that have spent a lot of time buying, photocopying paper, and simply typing away texts. They have been involved in writing the poorest quality, never talking about the issues.
“So, the first thing is to show you their inefficiency. They are used to writing statements as opposed to talking to Nigerians about policies. What this tells you is that 99.99% of what they write imply second-guessing what the president’s mind is.
“They have no contact with the president. They have no contact with government policies. All they are doing is writing on behalf of the president. There is nowhere where the job of this nature is being done and has been done so poorly.
“The reason I am saying so is that I’m no stranger to the process we are in. While we’re doing all these things, Femi Adesina was being paid salary by Orji Kalu. He was doing a good job in The Sun as a journalist. Garba Shehu was working for Atiku. Lai Mohammed was working for Tinubu. So, I think everybody should be able to answer his father’s name.
“And I can say that the reason why I am emotional and passionate about the things of this country and about where we are today is I have paid my dues. Let each of my critics tell me where they were at the most critical moment in Nigeria’s history.
“It’s not that now, people’s bank accounts are swollen. They are probably trying to preach the gospel to us that they don’t believe.”