The Anglican Church has no rift with Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, Buba Lamido, the Archbishop of Kaduna Province, has said.
Archbishop Lamido, who led a delegation of Anglican Bishops from the North-West on a visit to Mr El-Rufai on Tuesday said they had come to appreciate the governor for his decision to preserve St. George’s Cathedral, Sabon-Gari.
He explained that the Anglican Province of Kaduna regretted the manner in which the matter of St. George’s Cathedral, Sabon-Gari, was handled.
Mr Lamido, who is also the Dean of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, and Bishop of Wusasa, Zaria, conveyed greetings from the Primate of the Church of Nigeria.
According to a statement by Muyiwa Adekeye, the special adviser to the Kaduna Governor on Media & Communication, the archbishop apologised to Mr El-Rufai for the social media campaigns that have tried to turn the issue of the redevelopment of Sabon-Gari market into a religious matter.
The archbishop distanced the Anglican Church from this campaign that has been whipping up baseless allegations of religious bigotry, explaining that the church sees itself and the government as partners.
Speaking at the closed-door meeting, Mr Lamido expressed his gratitude to Mr El-Rufai for the meeting, saying “the Anglican Province of Kaduna wishes to thank the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, for granting us audience.
“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. We are grateful for the opportunity to remove the cobwebs of misunderstanding in an atmosphere of mutual respect,” Mr Lamido said.
Fielding questions from the media after the meeting, Mr Lamido said there is no rift between the Anglican Church and the Kaduna State Government.
“In any place, you have misunderstanding, even between families. And when you have such rifts you dialogue, you talk and that is what has brought us to see the Governor. The rift wasn’t caused by the Anglican Church. It could be individuals, it could be anybody, but certainly not by the Anglican church,” the archbishop explained.
Mr Lamido further said that the Anglican bishops “look forward to the development of Kaduna State, peaceful coexistence in Kaduna State and the growth and development of Nigeria which we are always praying for. And you know that in the Anglican church, daily we pray for the Government and our leaders. And that is what we will continue for the development of Nigeria.”
Mr El-Rufai thanked the Anglican bishops for their visit. He recalled that in 2016, the Kaduna State Government decided to preserve Saint George’s Cathedral as it chose a private company to fund the redevelopment of the Sabon-Gari market. Over 40 structures that were to be affected by the exercise were identified and assessed for compensation.
Three years later, after it became clear that the private developer could not raise the funds, KDSG decided to ask its market development company to fund the project. Following this renewed push to rebuild the market, notices were sent to the affected properties, on which compensation had been paid. He added that the the records show that St. George’s Cathedral itself was not subject to the eviction notice, as only the shops attached to it were affected.
The governor said he was shocked when he was made aware that a social media campaign was being waged against him on the matter.
He said that leaders have a responsibility to ensure that people cannot mobilise ethnic and religious sentiments or turn faith into a weapon of division.
He urged the Anglican leaders to thoroughly investigate the matter of St. George’s Church and the manner in which a simple matter was turned into another occasion for religious sentiment.
He promised that officials of the Kaduna State Government will support the investigation with necessary documents.