Catholic Archbishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah, said yesterday he never endorsed presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, Abubakar Atiku, for the Presidency in 2019 elections. Kukah said in a statement that he only facilitated the reconciliation meeting between Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his former vice, Alhaji Atiku Abukakar at the former president’s home in Abeokuta, Ogun State, last Thursday.
According to him, the endorsement of Atiku by President Obasanjo was only circumstantial to the meeting he brokered to settle the long-standing quarrel between both personalities, with no politics in mind. Obasanjo had last Thursday hosted Kukah, Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Ahmad Gumi, and founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, Bishop David Oyedepo, and some top politicians and civil rights activists at his residence in Abeokuta. He said the meeting was initially planned for just three persons — himself, President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, noting that it was further expanded by Chief Obasanjo who invited Bishop David Oyedepo of Living Faith Church Worldwide and Sheikh Gumi. Kukah said he was not, however, comfortable with the fact that more people were invited for the meeting which he had been working on for a long time. The statement Kukah’s statement read: “I have deliberately made this explanatory note long because I think it is necessary that people make up their minds based on the facts, given my central role in the event. “I note that Sheikh Gumi has already told his own side of the story. I feel obliged to state my own side so that Nigerians can have a clearer picture of my own involvement. Sadly, I personally did not read President Obasanjo’s statement until two days later on the internet since I was not physically in the hall. “Although trying to reconcile President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was something I had been working on intermittently in the last few years, nothing could have prepared me for the way things finally shaped up. “My focus all along had been with President Obasanjo and I had never brought Alhaji Abubakar into what I was doing. Quite fortuitously, a chance meeting changed the tide in favour of reconciliation. “Understandably, the pictures of the four of us (President Obasanjo, Alhaji Abubakar, Sheikh Gumi and I) literally lit up the social media and elicited divergent reactions from the general public. “Although over 99% of the reactions that have come to me have been largely those of commendation, with people focusing, rightly, on the reconciliation, there have been others whose focus has been on an isolated development that had absolutely nothing to do with what I had in mind all these years, namely, the endorsement.