The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has apologised to the Catholic bishops and Christians over his alleged comment that those who opposed President Muhammadu Buhari were corrupt Christian leaders who were unhappy because looters were no longer able to pay tithes to them.
Bello said he could never insult men of God as he had “tremendous respect for the Catholic Community.” He said he would not do anything to disparage any religious organisation.
The governor was reacting to the criticism that greeted his comment in which he was quoted as carpeting the Catholic bishops who paid a visit to Buhari last week and expressed their misgivings about the President’s perceived nepotism and killings by Fulani herdsmen in parts of the country.
The governor said those criticising the President were those sympathetic to looters and that the bishops were angry because tithes were no longer coming from looters.
But Bello in statement signed on his behalf by his Director General of Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, said the reports that he disrespected the Catholic Community and its leaders was “another low by my detractors in their desperation to portray me as an irresponsible leader.”
He said, “My statements to the press were misconstrued and misrepresented but I take full responsibility for this as I tender my unreserved apology to the Catholic bishops and by extension my Christian brothers and sisters who are displeased with my statement on tithing.
“I recognise the enormous contributions of the Catholic Church to entrenching a social order which is devoid of corruption, oppression and in the promotion of socio-economic justice.”
Bello said he was confident that genuine religious leaders of all faith were united in Buhari’s fight against corruption, insisting that no good religion has a place for corruption and corrupt people.
He said, “The Catholic Church has done very well in promoting literacy and health care. I am quite familiar with a good number of Catholic priests and I know their stance on the issue of corruption. Every church and religion must fight corruption because corruption oppresses the poor and destroy justice and fairness.”