December 9, 2022

Abuja Catholic Archbishop denies endorsing APC Presidential running mate

Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama

By Justine John Dyikuk

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja-Nigeria, Most Reverend Ignatius Ayau Kaigama has described as “fake news” comments attributed to him indicating he endorsed Kashim Shettima as the Presidential running mate of the ruling All Progressives’ Congress.

A statement issued by the Director of Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Fr. Patrick Alumuku says “it has come to the notice of the Department of the Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja a false news which has gone viral on the endorsement of Kashim Shettima as the APC Vice Presidential candidate.

“This fake news is coming after the nationwide outcry that graced the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) since Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s announced the former Governor of Borno, Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate in the 2023 presidential election, the loyalists of the ruling party have been at their wits end explaining to Nigerians the soundness of their choice.”

On the skewed news which attempted to drag the name of the Archbishop along political fault lines, the message further read, “One of their antics to give credit to the much criticized choice, has been to use the good names of reputable Nigerians to launder the image of Shettima. One of such futile attempts is dragging the name of Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, into the fan base of APC. Recently, the social media was agog with the skewed news of such spurious endorsement.”

Citing extant laws of the Church, the Archbishop maintained, “To set the records right, at no point has the venerable archbishop either in his personal capacity or as the Metropolitan of Abuja Ecclesiastical Province made such comments. Those familiar with the norms of the Catholic Church understand that Canon 285 § 2 admonishes that ‘Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state.'”

It clarified that endorsing a candidate of a particular party by any cleric as alleged “is certainly foreign to the clerical state and not a possible action by Catholic cleric.It is therefore unthinkable that Archbishop Kaigama who knows better the workings of the Church as a top cleric in the Nigerian sphere, would make such alleged endorsement.”

Stressing that the respected cleric cannot contradict “the very essence of his episcopal ministry” with such as posture, the statement underlined that “the rumor peddlers depict that they are out of touch with ecclesiastical reality in Nigeria. Archbishop Kaigama ended his tenure as President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) since 2018. After him, there have been two successors, yet the bearers of the false news presented him now in 2022 as the President of CBCN, which he longer is.”

The prelate wondered things have degenerated to the  extant that such a nasty insinuation tries in futility “to put words in the mouth of the Archbishop.”

It would be recalled that in 2016 when Archbishop Kaigama President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), he graced the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri along with other bishops, while Kashim Ibrahim Shettima was the Governor of Borno State.

As it was customary, he led the bishops to pay a courtesy visit to then Governor Shettima during which he reminded his listeners that “the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria has prophetic voice.”

His words: “We are a voice for the people. Our voice is a prophetic voice. We see things where things are good, we say it so. Where things are bad, we say it so.”

He lauded governor at the time for “as it relates to his working relationship with peoples of other faith.”

However, “Six years after – it surprising that his innocuous comment has been reinvented by mischievous makers to mean endorsement of Shettima as Tinubu’s vice presidential candidate, what a shame” the Archbishop regretted.

“The general public is hereby notified that Archbishop Kaigama has not and will not endorse any candidate as his flock cut across political parties and he would not prefer one candidate above the other. It is up to Nigerian voters to make their choice through the ballot box by electing the best candidates” the statement highlighted.