The Presidency has again taken a swipe at the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, for what it considers negative portrayals of President Muhammadu Buhari. administration.
It claimed in a statement yesterday that Kukah and the opposition were responsible for the delayed delivery of 12 Super Tucano jets to Nigeria by the United States.
The statement by the Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, was titled “Predicting Nigeria’s collapse is a perennial pursuit of US think tanks and policy experts.” He did not specifically mention the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) as the opposition which, according to him was defeated in 2015 by Buhari.
Shehu argued that the war against terrorism would have recorded a huge success if the US authorities were not negatively influenced then by Kukah and the opposition.
Shehu had while reacting last week to an Easter message by the Catholic cleric accused him of hating the Buhari administration and using the pulpit to play politics.
But Kakah fired back, saying that no amount of intimidation would silence him in the face of injustice. He insisted that the present government has performed poorly and challenged the President’s spokesmen to a public debate.
In the statement yesterday, Shehu argued that the past roles by Kukah and opposition lobbyists made the US and its Congress view Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria as chaotic.
He explained that the narratives sold to the US Congress were inaccurate. He cited the mentioning of the history of coups in Nigeria by Kukah in his address before the US Congress without pointing out that the last was almost 30 years ago to buttress his argument.
The presidential spokesman recalled how the request by the Federal Government for the purchase of military hardware from the US was approved and later withdrawn on the excuse of religious conflicts.
Shehu expressed happiness that the delivery of the jets in batches by a “favourable” US administration, had led to the killing of terrorist leaders and many of their followers.
His words: “In 2015, the then newly-elected Buhari government requested US military support in the form of Super Tucano fighter jets for the Nigerian Air Force. The Nigerian military, security, and intelligence services repeatedly made this request.
“The US administration of the time concurred: the delivery of such jets would help deliver a critical turning point in Nigeria’s struggle against jihadist terrorists across the Sahel.
“Yet two years later, the delivery was rescinded. The reasons given were that unless Nigeria improved its religious relations between Christianity and Islam, the US support would not be forthcoming in this, and many other areas.
“Such views were compounded by the constant lobbying of US Congress by the opponents of the Nigerian government who had lost the previous election, and many of their Southern religious supporters – including Bishop Mathew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto, who, unsurprisingly, provides a supportive quote for the cover of the new edition of(John) Campbell’s book. Kukah even took to addressing the US Congress himself, briefing his audience on the history of coups in Nigeria – without, of course, mentioning that none had occurred since 1993, some 29 years ago.
“Fortunately, now today under a new US administration, these jets have been delivered, and with it, a serious blow against the terrorists – with the supreme leader of Islamic State in West Africa and scores of other leaders of the group eliminated in airstrikes.
“It is all very well to claim it is in the US interests to help Nigeria become an even-better democracy and stable country. It is quite another to forever avoid mentioning the last coup was 29 years ago, and that since 1999 Nigeria has enjoyed 23 unbroken years of democratically-elected governments and peaceful transition between them.
“It is also inconsistent to preach the need for stability but needlessly delay sharing military equipment in the form of jets – not least when it is now proven they would have helped.
“Hopefully, the US and Nigeria are going to forge ahead with our continuing partnership in fighting terrorism in and out of the sub-region.
“The dream of our founding fathers of a strong, united and prosperous Nigeria remains very much intact.”
The statement was titled “Predicting Nigeria’s collapse is a perennial pursuit of US think tanks and policy experts.”
“Most recently retired former US Ambassador to Nigeria 2004-7 John Campbell has updated his book, of which the first edition said: ‘While Nigerians often claim they are masters of dancing on the brink without falling off, the disastrous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the radical Islamic insurrection Boko Haram, and escalating violence in the Delta and the North may finally provide the impetus that pushes it into the abyss of state failure.’
“It didn’t of course, quite the opposite: Jonathan was defeated at the 2015 general election with power peacefully transferring to the victor, President Buhari.
”Campbell is always more careful than others who openly claim their predicted collapse is just around the corner. Still, it is always there, as innuendo:”