Top Catholic clerics in heated exchange with SGF over Buhari’s performance

Top Catholic clerics in heated exchange with SGF over Buhari’s performance

- The SGF, Boss Mustapha, has responded to harsh remarks made about the Buhari administration by John Cardinal Onaiyekan and Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama

- The clerics chided the current administration for performing poorly and not delivering on its promises, even as they stressed that their comments were not borne out of ill-will

- The SGF, however, countered their statements, saying that the government was doing its best to tackle the nation’s challenges

John Cardinal Onaiyekan has lashed out at the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government, over its performance so far.

According to The Nation, Onaiyekan made his comments while delivering the Homily at the opening Mass of the first 2018 plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), on Sunday, February 18.

READ ALSO: IBB letter to Buhari: Ensuing controversy took shine out of message - Afegbua gathers that the cleric’s position was however, countered by Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who opined that the government was tackling the nation’s challenges.

Onaiyekan stated that Nigerians had not seen any ‘change’ even though they had been hearing the word for the last three years. He stated that real change would begin with a change of heart.

He said: “Yes, our nation is in a state of uncertainty and confusion. A few things are going well in the society and the economy for which we thank God and congratulate our leaders.

“They tell us that they are doing their best, but a lot still needs to be done and too many problems have been left to fester. Our nation surely deserves far better than it is now getting in terms of good governance, social justice and peace and minimum of well being for our people."

He chastised the Buhari government for spending too much time demonizing its predecessor, saying: “It has, unfortunately, allowed the initial massive goodwill it enjoyed to be depleted, almost to non-existence. It is no wonder that many Nigerians are looking for a new political organisation that can truly bring about genuine change for the better.

“Having tried our two major political parties and found none of them up to our expectation, the nation is on the verge of despair."

However, he counseled citizens not to lose hope, but to take advantage of the coming elections to change things.

In his words: “Another election is fast approaching. We must seize this God-given opportunity to radically change things around. We should no longer allow politics to remain business as usual in the hands of the same gang of speculators and opportunists. We must change the rule of the game, not the faces of the players."

However, in response, SGF Mustapha who represented the president, stated that the government was doing its best to address the issues affecting Nigerians.

He also noted that prior to the 2015 presidential election, the CBCN was the only Christian platform that gave the president a listening ear. He stated that for that reason, President Buhari “remains eternally grateful.”

He continued: “And I remember at that engagement, they asked very pertinent questions – direct, bullets to the face. And he provided answers. And because of that reason, he believes that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria is a strategic partner in the enterprise of growing the Nigeria nation and he believes that they have a lot to offer.”

The president of the CBCN, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, who also spoke at the Mass, stated that the Church was not speaking out of ill-will, but to inspire the government.

He stated: “We want to inspire you, let you know like John the Baptist, to go and tell the authority that this is what is needed, this is what we at the grassroots are saying. When you take it like that, you will even do better.

“But when you take it with a negative mind, you say, ‘oh, these people hate us, the Catholic Church don’t like us, they attack us all the time’. For God’s sake, if you listen to us, to all we have been saying, our communiqués from 1960 to date have been dealing with social issues and how to improve Nigeria.”

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Meanwhile, previously reported that Onaiyekan said that politics was not for miserable people who are seeking a way to get out of poverty. He urged Nigerians to stop complaining and get involved in politics, saying it is a serious task which will salvage the nation and give the youths hope for the future.

It should not be left for miserable people seeking a way out of poverty, or for selfish individuals desperate to manipulate the system in their favour,” Onaiyekan said.

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