Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, yesterday, challenged the trio of Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) Garba Shehu and Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) Femi Adesina to a debate on national issues.
The challenge followed a statement by Shehu, in which he accused Kukah of spreading hate and failing to abide by the Biblical injunction to “avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law (which are) unprofitable and worthless.”
The cleric had earlier in an Easter homily, declared: “The challenge of fixing this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts. With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy.
“Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, mosques, and infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken. Our children’s lives and futures are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our roads and rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well.”
In a national television interview monitored, yesterday, Kukah said: “Let me simply say that I have made an offer to them and still make the offer that they can choose the venue, choose the time and just let me know. I would like to sit down with the three of them, beginning with their honourable minister and both of them. Let us sit down together and talk about Nigeria. I’m ready. I will pay my way. I still repeat that offer to them.”
Kukah also took a swipe at the trio, concluding: “There is nowhere in the world where the job of this nature is being done as has been done so poorly.”
He said: “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 all kinds of writings of the poorest quality, never talking about the issues.
“So, the first thing is to show you their inefficiency. It is that they are used to writing; statements as opposed to talking to Nigerians about policies. This tells you that 99.99 per cent of what they write implies second-guessing what the President’s mind is. They have no contact with the President. They have no contact with government policies, and all they are doing is writing on behalf of the President.”
Asked to react to the allegation of hatred levelled against him by Shehu, Kukah replied: “I don’t know whether any of them has the ability or the capacity to speak about guilt or no guilt.
“But let me, first, set that record 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. Of course, I am not unaware of the state of mind of my two friends, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, when it comes to talking about Bishop Kukah. They seem to suspend reason and go into overdrive.
“Unless, of course, Garba Shehu has plans to convert to Christianity or he is a closet Christian or he is 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’m surprised that Femi Adesina, who I believe is a reverend of sorts in the Foursquare Gospel Church…I’m surprised that he’s unable to help his friend with whom they sat together.”
Noting he had served under different governments, and at the Oputa Panel, even getting former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Buhari to sign a peace accord over the 2015 elections, Kukah maintained: “I’m no stranger to the process we are in.”
He explained: “While we’re doing all these things, Femi Adesina was being paid salary by Orji Kalu, and he was doing a good job at 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 I am emotional and passionate about the things of this country and about where we are today, I have paid my dues. Let each and every of my critic tell me where they were at the most critical moment in Nigeria’s history.
“It’s not now that people’s bank accounts are swollen that they can probably try to preach the gospel to us that they themselves don’t believe.”
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