Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state has clarified his statement that appeared to have pitted him against reverred Catholic bishops.
In a statement, Bello urged the bishops to ignore news reports that painted him as disparaging them.
Bello said he has “tremendous respect for the Catholic Community”, adding he will not do anything to disparage any religious organization.
The Governor’s Director General of Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, issued the clarification in Lokoja.
Bello said the reports in the media that he disrespected the Catholic Community and it’s leaders were “another low by his detractors in their desperation to portray him as an irresponsible leader”.
“My statements to the Press were well documented. I was critical of corrupt leaders, who have been disconnected from the looting pipes. These are the leaders who are launching campaign of calumny against Mr. President.
“These categories of leaders belong to different faith and may attempt to mislead highly respected religious leaders into joining their antagonism towards the anti-corruption crusade of Mr. President. 2019 is a year of determination for our nation and I have no regret leading the charge for the re-election of Mr. President who had given hope to the hopeless in the society.”
Governor Bello charged religious leaders to join the President’s fight against corruption, insisting that no good religion has a place for corruption and corrupt people.
“The Catholic Church has done very well in promoting literacy and healthcare. 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,” ,he said.
The Governor urged the Media to uphold the tenets of objective reportage in order to promote peace and security in the country.
Bello had spoken with the media a day after Catholic bishops visited President Muhammadu Buhari, to draw attention to how in their view, the President’s goodwill had fast ‘depleted’ over some policies.
After observing Ju’mat prayer at the presidential villa on Friday, Bello told state house correspondents that it is the corrupt politicians who are angry with the president.
He said since the Buhari administration had blocked avenues through which funds were looted, the corrupt can no longer pay tithe, the Cable reported.
“The question is who are those Nigerians who are angry?” he asked.
“The category of Nigerians that are angry are those who used a private jet to cart away Nigeria’s money, in dollars, out of the country to South Africa (in reference to the case of alleged money laundering involving a former president of Christian Association of Nigeria).
“I’m sure you are away that our money is still locked down there, such money if you bring it into the economy, a lot of youth who are unemployed will surely be employed.
“And of course those that have looted the country dry and normally go to the church and mosque to pay tithe are no longing doing so. Of course, this is the category of people who are angry.”
“Among those happy with the current administration are farmers and those with real jobs… because the economy is improving,” he said.