The Bishop of Zaria, Rt Rev Abiodun Ogunyemi has denounced the Archbishop of Kaduna and the general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council for paying a “humiliating visit” to Governor Nasir El-Rufai to apologise for criticising him over a plan to demolish the St George’s Cathedral in the university town.
Ogunyemi said the apology was all an attempt to make the governor look good in preparation for a possible presidential ambition in 2023.
But to Ogunyemi, the apology boiled to nought, according to a statement he published on the church’s website, zariadiocese.org.ng
“The governor should know that he will never be president of Nigeria. I speak prophetically as a servant of the living God,” the Bishop of Zaria said. Zaria is the hometown of El-Rufai.
The bishops that drew the ire of Ogunyomi are the Most Rev. Ali Buba Lamido, Archbishop of Kaduna Province and the Bishop of Wusasa, and the former Archbishop of Kaduna and current ACC leader, Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon and the general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Ogunyemi said the Anglican leaders have placed placed loyalty to Muslim politicians over loyalty to the Church of Nigeria.
He singled out Lamido for special venom, accusing him of compromising Christian standards and the truth and he and Idowu-Fearon for ”their intrigues with the government of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.
According to a report written by George Conger in Anglican.ink , the dispute arose over the attempted seizure by the Kaduna State government of St George’s Cathedral in Zaria.
On 20 Sept 2019 the Church of Nigeria’s Diocese of Zaria reported it had received a notice to vacate the 110 year old cathedral within seven days by order of Governor El-Rufai. The Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency (KASUPDA) said it would use the historic church land to expand the Sabo market.
However, following protests by the diocese and the Christian Association of Nigeria the state backed down from its plans.
However on 12 Nov 2019 Archbishop Lamido led other church leaders to El-Rufai to apologize for the criticism of the diocese and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
A statement issued by the Kaduna State government said the archbishop “has apologised to Governor Nasir El Rufai for the social media campaigns that tried to turn the issue of the redevelopment of Sabon-Garin Zaria market into a religious matter.”
The statement also reported the archbishop and other Anglican bishops expressing their thanks to El-Rufai for “his decision to preserve St. George’s Cathedral.”
The government spokesman said the Archbishop had told the governor the Church of Nigeria had distanced itself “from this campaign that has been whipping up baseless allegations of religious bigotry, explaining that the church sees itself and the government as partners.”
‘’The meeting has afforded us a welcome chance to clarify matters and recalibrate our relationship in a mutual commitment to the peace and progress of Kaduna State, and harmony in its diverse communities,” Archbishop Lamido was quoted to have said.
The archbishop’s apology drew an immediate response from the Bishop of Zaria.
“The bishop and the people of Zaria diocese are not surprised about the views and apologies expressed by Archbishop Lamido at the Governor’s office yesterday … because Bishop Lamido is known to always compromise christian standards and the truth.”
The diocesan statement claimed the archbishop was corrupt. He had sold “sold three very precious landed properties of Wusasa diocese to some Muslims. These properties were acquired by missionaries in the late 1800s. These great legacies have been lost forever by the Wusasa community.”
The statement further claimed: “Bishop Lamido brought a Muslim governorship candidates with money to bribe the House of Bishops to vote for this man against Governor El Rufai. His antecedents when it comes to standing for the church speak volumes.”
The bishop of Zaria took exception to the assertion that by protecting their cathedral the diocese were “religious bigots” or “at war with the Governor”. He explained: “We are only fighting for our right. Nobody can stop us from fighting for our right. Besides, prophets do not apologize to kings but kings apologies to prophets. Nobody can propose to demolish our cathedral and we will keep quiet or apologise.”
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