The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says Yahaya Bello, Kogi governor, is a “friend of the church”.
The Christian body said it gave him the award in recognition of his fair treatment of Christians in Kogi.
Speaking at the dedication of the Kogi government house chapel on Monday in Lokoja, Samson Ayokunle, CAN president, commended Bello for his “inclusiveness” and ensuring there is justice in the state.
While asking the federal and other state governments to emulate Bello, Ayokunle said it is only leaders who have the spirit of God that could take “the bold step” to build a church.
“In the atmosphere of justice and mutual respect prosperity would be guaranteed and the country would bring a plural nation, it is our duty that while practicing democracy we apply native sense taking into cognizance our plurality,” the cleric said.
On his part, Bello, represented by Edward Onoja, Kogi deputy governor, condemned the “refusal” of previous administrations to build a chapel in the government house.
The governor expressed dismay that enlightened people have decided to politicise issues of religion.
He said not building a place of worship for Christians at the government house was an error his administration deliberately decided to correct.
According to him, his administration, apart from religion, takes the inclusion of women in governance seriously.
The governor praised the CAN president for being a source of encouragement, adding that he is open to counsel from the Christian leader anytime.
In 2018, Bello said Catholic bishops who visited President Muhammadu Buhari to air their grievances with the administration were instigated by corrupt politicians.
“The category of Nigerians that are angry are those who used a private jet to cart away Nigeria’s money, in dollars, out of the country to South Africa (in reference to the case of alleged money laundering involving a former president of Christian Association of Nigeria),” he said.
“And of course those that have looted the country dry and normally go to the church and mosque to pay tithe are no longing doing so. Of course, this is the category of people who are angry.”
He later apologised.
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