The Plateau state governor, Simon Lalong, has apologised to the Catholic Church over comments he made while defending his appointment as the Director General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council.
The apology came less than 24 hours after some aggrieved members of the Catholic Church, under the auspices of Concerned Catholics in Nigeria (CCN), on Thursday, demanded for his suspension from the church, accusing him of blasphemy.
The group had also demanded an unreserved apology from the governor who has been under attack for accepting the appointment.
Lalong had while defending his appointment as the campaign DG of the Muslim-Muslim Presidential ticket of the APC, said the Pope had not told him that what he is doing is bad.
“The Pope has not told me that what I am doing is bad to accept Director General”, the governor had said.
However, Catholic faithfuls were alarmed that he dragged the Holy Father into the murky politics of Nigeria and the 2023 election.
At a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, President of CCN, Dr. Ben Amodu, insisted that Lalong must tender an apology for the global embarrassment his reckless remarks caused the Pope and the entire Church.
In the apology letter dated August 12, 2022 personally signed by the governor and addressed to the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Lucius lwejuru Ugorji, the governor expressed regrets over his comments.
“I now realise that this was an error on my part and has caused some level of concern and even embarrassment to many especially the members of the family of Papal Knights to which I belong.
“I now understand that I may have overreached myself in the course of trying to
defend my personal decision in accepting this appointment and thus, the reference to the holy father was not intended as an act of disrespect to his exalted and revered office”, he said.
The letter titled “Letter of apology”, reads:
I have followed with some shock and deep regret, the reactions that have trailed my
appointment as the Director-General of the Campaign Council for the Presidential Candidates of our Party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and lbrahim Shettima.
The appointment, understandably was received with mixed reactions across the Christian community who genuinely feel aggrieved by the decision of our party to settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. While many people commended me for the appointment and saw it as a way of remaining within the system to fight for our own interests, others cast aspersions on it on the grounds that our faith had been insulted and denigrated.
In in the course of this, many of my opponents turned the issue into a political weapon with some spreading rumours and questioning the integrity of my credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight.
In trying to make my case, I have granted interviews to justify why l believe that the appointment did not in any way undermine my commitment to the Catholic Church.
During the week, in the course of defending myself, I had cause to make reference to my
credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight. In the process, I made reference to the Holy
I now realise that this was an error on my part and has caused some level of concern and even embarrassment to many especially the members of the family of Papal Knights to which I belong.
I now understand that I may have overreached myself in the course of trying to
defend my personal decision in accepting this appointment and thus, the reference to the holy father was not intended as an act of disrespect to his exalted and revered office.
Your Grace, by this written letter, I wish to tender my unreserved apologies and ask for their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, the entire members of the Bishops’ Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders.
My commitment to the Catholic faith to which I belong remains unreserved and undiluted.
I will continue to uphold the banner of my faith in public life as I have done over the years.
You may recall, Your Grace that in the last five or so years, I have been at the forefront of facilitating our dialogue as politicians with you our fathers in the faith.
I remain committed to this and pray that you will continue to encourage us as we ascend the slippery slope of politics.
While soliciting your episcopal blessings,
Yours in our Lord and Saviqur Jesus Christ Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong KSGG