The Christian Association of Nigeria, prominent Catholic bishops, two Catholic groups among others have berated Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, for attacking Catholic leaders who visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock last week.
Prominent groups that lambasted Bello for taunting the clerics are the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership and the Progressives Peoples Alliance.
The Catholic bishops had, during a visit to the Presidential Villa on Thursday, told the President that his goodwill had depleted by his glaring failures.
The bishops, under the aegis of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, had expressed their disappointment with the state of the nation and told the President that Nigerians were angry as a result of bad governance in the country.
But Bello, in an interview with the State House correspondents on Friday, told the bishops that only those who were no more getting stolen money to pay tithes were angry with Buhari.
“And of course, those who have looted the country dry and normally go to the church and mosque to pay tithe, are no longer doing so. Of course, these are the category of people that are angry,” the governor had stated.
Bello, a character who accidently found himself in power –Kukah
But in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, Kukah described Bello’s statement as “a tragedy of leadership in Nigeria.”
He said, “The statement of the governor is not worthy of my comment because I believe that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria stands for something higher than that. I won’t even dignify him with a response.”
When prodded to speak further on the issue, Kukah added, “This is a character (Bello) that nobody heard anything from until he suddenly accidentally found himself in power. What does he (Bello) know about what the bishops have said? So, I don’t even want to dignify him with any response. I don’t think it’s worth giving him a story.
It’s a great pity if Bello made that statement — Job
In another reaction, the Archdiocese Emeritus, Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan, Alaba Job, described the statement made the governor as disappointing and out of context.
In an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday in Ibadan on the telephone, Job advised the Kogi governor to revisit the purpose of the meeting and what the President told the bishops and compare with his statement.
Job stated, “The governor will not say it if he read what we said to President Buhari at the meeting in Abuja. We told Buhari the truth about what is happening in the country. We told him about hunger, lots of atrocities being committed in the nation, lots of killings here and there and he was happy that we spoke to him. He also told us what he is doing and what he plans to do more.
“I am sorry that the governor made that statement. Who are the people stealing for us? What he said is different from what we discussed with Buhari. Killings, kidnappings, and other forms of evil (practices) are around us. Boko Haram has, to some extent, been suppressed but we now have so many atrocities.
“We did not discuss any issue about money to the church. It is a great pity if a governor made that statement. As far back as 1994, Catholic Church bishops constituted a prayer group that has been praying against corruption in Nigeria.
“The governor’s statement does not ‘belong’ to us, not to the Catholic Church bishops in Nigeria. He should read the statement issued at the meeting and compare it to his own statement. It is out of context.”
Melaye apologises for Kogi gov’s ‘verbal diarrhoea’
Meanwhile, the Senator, representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, Dino Melaye, has apologised to the Catholics and Christians in general for Bello’s alleged attack on the clerics.
Melaye, in a statement on Saturday, described Bello’s comments against the bishops as “verbal diarrhoea.”
He said, “I apologise to the Catholic Church and the Christian community for the verbal diarrhoea of the Governor of Kogi State. It is more obvious than ever that he needs some ‘equational’ balances at his end. This affliction on Nigeria shall not arise a second time.”
Culled from Punch