From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
A group on the platform of Concerned Catholics in Nigeria has chided Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong over a comment credited to him as his reasons for accepting to serve as Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council.
The group expressed shock that the Governor would elect to throw caution into the wind by dragging the revered Catholic Church into local politics in Nigeria for whatever reason.
Addressing journalists at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, Dr Ben Amodu National Convener and President of the group condemned what he described as an attempt to “incite religious tension in the country to pitch the Catholic and Protestant communities against each other in an unhealthy debate over the Muslim-Muslim Ticket of the APC.”
“The reference to the Pope in his statement for accepting to serve as the Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council was made in poor taste and a puerile attempt to drag the Catholic Church into a matter that has no bearing with the Pope,” Amodu stated.
“It remains a shame that politicians would stop at nothing to win elections, even to the detriment of selling their birthrights for a plate of porridge, as in the case of Governor Simon Bako Lalong, who, after accepting to serve as the DG of the Presidential Campaign Council, elected to justify his actions using the name of the Pope.
“We find it hard to believe that Governor Simon Bako Lalong would find it morally convenient to drag the Pope and the entire catholic community into the APC politics of the Muslim-Muslim Ticket.
“It is an act of aberrance in desperation to serve his paymasters hence the despicable statement by Governor Simon Bako Lalong in seeking the justification for his actions, which falls within his rights, but not to the detriment of the collective sensibilities of other Catholics in Nigeria and around the world.
“The desperation of the APC in forcing its Muslim-Muslim Ticket down the throats of Nigerians is alarming and more curious is the fact that Governor Simon Bako Lalong, a practising Catholic who supposedly knows that the Catholic Church is not only involved in partisan politics but still went ahead to insinuate that the Pope is in support of his decision smacks a mockery of the revered Catholic Church in Nigeria and around the world.
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“The Concerned Catholics in Nigeria find the statement of Governor Simon Bako Lalong distrustful and capable of causing a crisis of unimaginable proportion in the country in the attempt to distract and divide the Christian community that has been vehement in rejecting whatever narrative the APC wants to push forward in justification of its Muslim-Muslim Ticket.
“The Concerned Catholics in Nigeria condemn such despicable conduct as it is not reflective of the stance of the Pope and the Catholic Church in Nigeria and around the world concerning the political permutations in Nigeria.
The group went further to ask for the suspension of Lalong from the Catholic Church and requested that the Governor tenders an apology to the Catholic community for his statement.
“Therefore, Governor Simon Bako Lalong must consequently tender an unreserved apology to the Catholic Community in Nigeria for dragging the Pope into the murky waters of Nigerian politics. It remains unjustifiable and as much condemnable.
“We are also using this medium to call for the suspension of Governor Simon Bako Lalong from the Catholic Church for bringing the Church into disrepute and maligning the name of the Pope for his advantage and that of his party, the All Progressive Congress.”
Lalong, on Wednesday, while speaking to state house correspondents, had said he was yet to receive any directive from Pope Francis to reject his recent appointment to lead the campaign for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“As Catholics, everything we do, we send the advice to the Pope. The Pope has not told me that what I’m doing is bad to accept as the Director-General. As a Catholic, we take that direction,” he said.
He described his role as purely political and not religious and criticised some Christian leaders asking him to reject the appointment.