Leading Nigerian bishop dismisses claims that government has ‘Islamist agenda’

A leading bishop in Nigeria has assured the country’s Christians that the new government does not have an Islamic agenda, despite concerns from churchgoers in the African nation.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity supporting persecuted Christians, Bishop Mathhew Kukah has welcomed the incoming government leaders.

He previously hit out at the country’s leadership for failures to stand up to Islamic terrorists and their campaign of violence against Christians.

Last year, more Christians are thought to have been killed in Nigeria than in the rest of the world combined.

Bishop Kukah said: “A lot of the anxieties that people are expressing are unfounded.”

He added: “I happen to have known Tinubu for more than 20 years, and I also happen to know Kashim Shettima. I have worked with him…

“There are certain things that Shettima did while governor that I found unprecedented.

“We went to the opening of the cathedral in Maiduguri, and I was shocked to see five or seven commissioners there who were Christians and members of his cabinet.

“And he was involved in the building and re-building of mosques and churches destroyed by Boko Haram. What else can you ask of somebody?”

Referring to the ongoing violence against Christians, the prelate said: “These killings have been going on for a long time. Buhari’s vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, was a Christian pastor, but what difference did he make? He never visited any place where Christians were being killed.”

Bishop Kukah was critical of the old administration, and in particular of previous president Muhammadu Buhari.

He said: “What is clear is that the outgoing president is one of the worst the country has ever had.”

He added: “The Buhari government was one of the worst because he operated a system based on nepotism.

“Ironically, in the midst all of this, northern Nigeria remains the most ungoverned region in the whole country.

“And what Christians have suffered is a fraction of what northerners have suffered, in terms of kidnappings, killings and destruction.”

Bishop Kukah added that Muslim leaders can provide opportunities for the country’s Christian community.

He said: “Of course, I would like a Catholic to be president, but he would not govern Catholics – he would govern everybody in this country.

“I have enough experience living in Nigeria, for instance, to know that some of the best opportunities we have had as Christians did not come from a Christian president.

“The Pope did not come to Nigeria during the administration of a Christian.

“He visited Nigeria twice, courtesy of two Muslim leaders – Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1982, and General Sani Abacha in 1998.

“Let us focus on the capacity for fairness, integrity, and the building of a better Nigeria.”

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