The Peoples Democratic Party has replied a former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Cardinal Anthony Okogie, over his comment that Yoruba monarchs deceived former President Goodluck Jonathan during the election.
The party was reacting to a recent interview granted to a national daily by Okogie, where he said the picture of Jonathan squatting in the midst of some Yoruba traditional rulers, who were pointing sticks at him, was deceptive.
He had said, “Did you see the photograph I saw; you saw him in the midst of Obas; you saw the way they pointed their sticks (at him). If you are a Yoruba man, do they (monarchs) pray with that kind of thing? No way! ‘You want prayer? We will give you prayer.’ This means they were deceptive.”
Reacting to the statement, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Lagos State, Mr. Taofik Gani, flayed the cleric, describing the accusation as a deliberate attempt to embarrass the person of Jonathan and his party.
Gani noted that it would have been a disrespect to the monarchs if Jonathan had visited their domains without paying a courtesy visit on the royal fathers.
“With due regard to Cardinal Okogie, it may be coincidental that he is a progressive but a hidden politician in religion, who believes that the people in the APC are progressives. But I want to say without any iota of contradiction that it has always been convenient for Cardinal Okogie to support the APC and we know all these people. We also have them in the PDP who support us.
“So, we wouldn’t blame Cardinal Okogie. We have professionals, activists, religious leaders, who are also sympathetic to the PDP cause. What Okogie said, therefore, was deliberate; just to embarrass the PDP and the former President. The royal fathers have their traditional role which is not to have anybody as beloved. Everybody in their dynasty is regarded as their subjects.
“That Jonathan accorded them that regard of being royal fathers and that he consequently got their blessings was not wrong of the ex-President. On the contrary, they (the APC) were malicious against some royal fathers, which the PDP cautioned against.”
The PDP spokesperson further noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had also visited some royal fathers.
The party, therefore, queried Okogie for not criticising the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, for supporting a candidate of the APC during the last governorship election in Lagos State.
“We know the role the Oba of Lagos played. Is Cardinal Okogie oblivious of that fact? Why didn’t he generalise that all the Obas misled all the politicians? In fact, the xenophobic statement made by the Oba of Lagos could have destroyed the country.
“It is now the same xenophobia that the APC is quick to impose on our leader, Bode George. But it was the APC who influenced the verbal attacks through the Oba of Lagos, who was an obvious member of the APC by his actions.
“Cardinal Okogie should please maintain his role as a religious leader. He is someone who is respected; he should be wary of coming into the murky waters of politics. What has happened has happened,” Gani told Punch.