The Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has tendered a letter of apology to the head of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, over his Pope comment. He tendered an unreserved apology to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). He asked for forgiveness and understanding from the Catholic Church through the Bishops’ conference, admitting that it was an error on his part to have linked the Catholic Pontiff with Nigeria’s politics. In a letter to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) President titled, “Letter of Apology”, dated 12th August 2022, Governor Lalong assured of his continuous commitment to the Catholic faith and promised to continue upholding the banner of the Christian faith in public life. According to Governor Lalong, “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 Ibrahim Shettima.”
“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," the letter read in part.
“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.
“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 Father.
“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.”
Earlier, some members of the Catholic Church had frowned at his choice of words, even as a Papal Knight of St. Gregory, and demanded his immediate suspension from the Church for dragging the Pope into local politics.
Mr. Lalong’s appointment to ‘market’ the same faith presidential ticket of Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima has been criticised by many, particularly Christian leaders in the North.
On Tuesday, during an interview at the State House after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Lalong justified his appointment as DG of the council by referencing the Pope. He claimed that the Pope did not complain about his appointment.
He added that as a Catholic he had one of the highest awards “Knight of Saint Gregory the Great” from the Pope.
Some aggrieved members of the Catholic Church, at a press conference in Abuja, including President of the Concerned Catholics in Nigeria, Ben Amodu, said the governor caused the head of the Catholic Church global embarrassment with his ‘unguarded’ remarks.