The Federal Government says it is graceless and impious for any religious leader to use the period of Christmas, which is a season of peace, to stoke the embers of hatred, sectarian strife and national disunity.
This was a veiled reference to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, who in his 2020 Christmas Message, had alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari is presiding over a country with prospects of a failed state.
In a statement issued on Saturday in Lagos, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, warned religious leaders that resorting to scorched-earth rhetoric at this time could trigger unintended consequences.
The statement was made available to reporters by Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culture.
The minister said that while religious leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power, such truth must not come wrapped in anger, hatred, disunity and religious disharmony.
”Calling for a violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government, no matter how disguised such a call is, and casting a particular religion as violent is not what any religious leader should engage in, and certainly not in a season of peace,” he said.
Mr Mohammed stressed that instigating regime change outside the ballot box is not only unconstitutional but also an open call to anarchy.
He said while some religious leaders, being human, may not be able to disguise their national leadership preference, “they should refrain from stigmatising the leader they had never supported using well-worn and disproved allegations of nepotism”.
The minister said whatever challenges Nigeria may be going through at the moment could only be tackled when all leaders and indeed all Nigerians come together.
He said such challenges could not be tackled “when some people arrogantly engage in name-calling and finger-pointing.”
The cleric contended that “there is no way any non-Northern Muslim president could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it.
”There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war.” (NAN)