Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, has explained that his reference to the Pope is a mark of reverence, not ridicule as perceived by some Nigerians.
In a statement in Jos on Thursday by Makut Macham, his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Lalong said he has the highest regard for Christians and Church Authority and will continue to work hard in promoting the interests of Christians and adherents of other religions.
The governor lamented that part of what he said in the interview he granted in Abuja was used as “propaganda by politicians”.
According to Macham, “Governor Simon Lalong has said that contrary to insinuations and misconceptions being imputed into his interview granted to State House Correspondents at the Presidential Villa where he explained that as a Catholic and a Papal Knight, the Pope has not told him that accepting the position of Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council was wrong, the statement was out of reverence and not disregard for the Holy Father, Catholic Church or Christianity.
“It was unfortunate that part of the interview has been excised and used by politicians for propaganda and misinformation about his personality, faith and political persuasion.
“He said, ‘My reference to the Holy Father the Pope was to emphasise that as a Christian born and raised in the Catholic faith, accepting the assignment given to me by my party the APC of which I am a founding member,, does not in any way remove my faith in Jesus Christ or my commitment to the Church in Nigeria and universally.
“He reiterates that he has the highest regard for Christians and Church Authority and will continue to work hard in promoting the interests of Christians and adherents of other religions based on love, justice, equity and fairness which are encouraged in the Holy Bible and the Constitution of Nigeria.
“Although he understands and appreciates the concerns of Christians over the emergence of Muslim, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as APC presidential candidate and choice the of vice presidential nominee, Senator Kashim Shettima also a Muslim, the situation does not warrant Christians within the party leaving the party or refusing to accept responsibilities because being within a system makes it easy to address grievances than being outside.
“The emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was not on a religious basis as even Christians voted for him during the APC Primaries.
“He also appealed to Nigerians, irrespective of religious persuasions, to unite and work towards addressing the major challenges of the nation by actively participating in the political process and ensuring they push forward their interests rather than allowing religious sentiments to override their desire to assess issues from a holistic perspective.”
The response followed the backlash against Lalong’s allusion that the Pope sanctions his choice as the Director-General of the Tinubu/Shettima campaign organisation.