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Muslim/Muslim Ticket: Catholics demand apology as Lalong explains his reference to Pope

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Aggrieved members of the Roman Catholic Church on Thursday expressed concern over the reference by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State to the Pope while defending his acceptance to serve as the Director-General of All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council for the 2023 election.

The PUNCH reported that the governor had backed the idea of the Muslim-Muslim ticket after meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the State House in Abuja.

According to him, as a Catholic with the highest Papal award of Knight of Saint Gregory, the Pope had not told him what he was doing is wrong.

But the Catholic faithful blamed him for dragging the Holy Father into the murky politics of Nigeria and the 2023 election. They also called for his immediate suspension from the Church for alleged blasphemy.

The President of the Concerned Catholics in Nigeria, Dr. Ben Amodu, during a press conference in Abuja, insisted that Lalong must tender an apology for the global embarrassment his ‘unguarded’ remarks caused the Pope and the entire Church.

The CCN vowed that the Catholic community in Nigeria would ensure that the governor made atonement for his publicly “blasphemous statement” about the Pope and the Church.

Amodu said, “We are alarmed that Governor Simon Bako Lalong would elect to throw caution into the wind by dragging the revered Catholic Church into local politics in Nigeria for whatever it is worth.

“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.

“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 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 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.

“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 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.

“Governor Simon Bako Lalong has displayed a tendency that he does not identify with the religious sensitivity in the country. He has carried on like the typical politician who thinks only about himself and his immediate family and not minding the consequences of his actions on the overall psyche of others, as in this case.

“It remains baffling for the Catholic Community that a supposed Knight would condescend so low to throwing everything he has held dearly over several decades because he wants to remain politically relevant after his tenure as governor of Plateau State.

“The Concerned Catholics in Nigeria condemns 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.

“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.

“The Concerned Catholics in Nigeria wish to state unequivocally that Governor Simon Bako Lalong does not represent the Catholic Community in Nigeria, as his membership in the Catholic Church remains suspect and a subject for further investigation.

“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.

“The leadership of the Catholic Community in Nigeria must ensure that Governor Simon Bako Lalong is made to atone for his blasphemous statement about the Pope and the Catholic Church in public.”

Lalong explains his reference to Pope

Lalong explains his reference to Pope

Following the backlash against his allusion that the Pope sanctions his choice as the Director-General of the Tinubu/Shettima campaign organisation, Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, has explained that his reference to the Pope is a mark of reverence, not ridicule as perceived by some Nigerians.

The governor lamented that part of what he said in the interview he granted in Abuja was used as “propaganda by politicians”.

In a statement in Jos on Thursday by Makut Macham, his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Lalong said he has the highest regard for Christians and Church Authority and will continue to work hard in promoting the interests of Christians and adherents of other religions.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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