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Presidency accuses Kukah, Buhari’s opponents of hampering US-Nigeria relations

By Terhemba Daka, Abuja
25 April 2022   |   4:04 am
The Presidency, yesterday, accused opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of being responsible for United States’ perception about poor Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria and consequent delay...

Bishop Matthew Kukah

The Presidency, yesterday, accused opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of being responsible for United States’ perception about poor Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria and consequent delay in supply of fighter jets to the country.

In a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the Presidency named Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, as one of such opponents.

Kukah and President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesmen have in recent times been involved in public media arguments on the state of the nation.

According to the statement, Kukah provided quotes from a new book written by former US Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, which the Presidency observed, is not likely to conclude that Nigeria has improved on any front.

Tracing the history of Nigeria’s request for Tucano fighter jets to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency, the statement said: “In 2015, the then newly-elected Buhari government requested US military support in the form of Super Tucano jet fighters for the Nigerian Air Force. The Nigerian military, security, and intelligence services repeatedly made this request.

“The US administration of the time concurred: the delivery of such jets would help deliver a critical turning point in Nigeria’s struggle against jihadist terrorists across the Sahel.

“Yet, two years later, that jet delivery was rescinded. The reasons are given that unless Nigeria improved its religious relations between Christianity and Islam, then US support would not be forthcoming in this, and many other areas.

“Such views were compounded by constant lobbying of US Congress by opponents of the Nigerian government who had lost the previous election, and many of their southern religious supporters – including Bishop Mathew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto, who, unsurprisingly , provides a supportive quote for the dustcover of the new edition of Campbell’s book. (Kukah even took to addressing the US Congress himself, briefing his audience on the history of coups in Nigeria – without, of course, mentioning that none had occurred since 1993, some 29 years ago).

“Fortunately, now today under a new US administration, these jets have been delivered, and with it, a serious blow against the terrorists – with the supreme leader of Islamic State in West Africa and scores of other leaders of the group eliminated in airstrikes.”

“It is all very well to claim it is in the United States’ interests to help Nigeria become an even-better democracy and stable country. It is quite another to forever avoid mentioning the last coup was 29 years ago, and that since 1999 Nigeria has enjoyed 23 unbroken years of democratically elected governments and peaceful transition between them.

“It is also inconsistent to preach the need for stability but needlessly delay sharing military equipment in the form of jets – not least when it is now proven they would have helped Nigeria much earlier defeat the terrorists who threaten our country. Hopefully, the United States and Nigeria are going to forge ahead with our continuing partnership in fighting terrorism in and out of the sub region.

“The dream of our founding fathers of a strong, united and prosperous Nigeria remains very much intact.”