Nigeria has overtime hovered between life and death on numerous national challenges, which range from economy, social, security and corruption factors. All these are gradually going into extinctions as the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is working tirelessly to combat corruption and insecurity that have pillared many diabolical structures obscuring the nation from rising to the impending renaissance of national prospects.
We have unfortunately realised that some individuals have begun to shield their corruption and evil records with religious helmets and deliberately inciting religious misunderstandings to thwart the progressive action of the government and to bring forth a national distraction to obliterate whatever could ameliorate the nation’s developmental laxity.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) publishes a press release almost every month since the last four months, non addressing the economic, security, health or educational inclinations of the nation, but rather vindictively making religious controversies out of every action of the government.
It is doing these in order to stir the religious tranquility of the country. Nigerians were ridiculously jiggled to read CAN’s controversial release alleging religious agenda and support of America on “Islamisation” of Nigeria over the recent John Kerry’s visit to Buhari and Northern governors.
This is not only an embarrassment to the nation internationally, but also a dent to Nigeria’s religious integrity. One is bent to ask if all the Northerners are all Muslims and also ask if there was no Christian Northern governor, considering that the vice president is a Pastor.
This deliberate controversial adventures by CAN went further when it made an hasty release that its members were killed in the recent Zamfara mayhem. It took an exceptional effort of the Northern CAN to clarify to the general public that non of its members were killed.
Prior to this, the chairman of the CAN in the North West Zone, an affiliate of the main CAN, Bishop David Bakare, had addressed a press conference in Kaduna, penultimate week, saying that those killed were Christians and that the killings over charges of blasphemy was getting too much in the North.
It puzzles the minds of rightly thinking Nigerians why the recent controversial statements of CAN is a mirror of prejudicial releases and statements of some individuals, who have corruption questions to answer from the federal government.
Could it be correct as it is being speculated in some quarters that CAN is now being used as anti-government tool to freeze and distract the general public on their war against corruption and insecurities ? Or as a mere tool to cut “a pound of flesh” ?
I was emotionally coerced to put forth this piece when I read that coalition of 22 Christian groups in Nigeria led by National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), said the declaration of Sept. 12 as public holiday in commemoration of Eid-El-Kabir celebration by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, was the height of impunity.
This is another distraction in the thickness of the current recession that every Nigerian is battling with. The statement by the Sultan as the leader of the Nigerian Muslims is to educate and announce to the Muslims the date of anticipated Eid-Ul-Kabir festival. The Islamic month is determined by the sighting of the moon, and the Sultan’s role is to educate his followers time to time on exceptional Islamic days like the Eid festivals.
Obviously, the Muslims are supposed to be on holiday on Eid day and the announcement by the Sultan is not a replacement or to override the federal government’s declaration. The NCEF inciting statement is as ridiculous as anyone attacking an announcement of Dec. 25 as an holiday for the Christians. Yes, a sane mind knows that it is one of the Christian special days, and emphasis on it should never be a problem.
And talking about impunity by the way, would it be calculatingly correct to assert that the reason CAN is making many controversial religious statements in the present regime of a Muslim president is because, CAN itself is a product of impunity and it is scared of being deliberately “sidelined” like they do to the people of other faiths when a Christian President is in Power?
Surely, I am not going to mention the numerous impunity of the Christian leaders in the CONFAB organised by the last administration, or the controversial 15 million dollars in the private jet of one of the past Christian leaders, and among other countless unmentioned and questionable acts that have been ignored over time.
What spurred CAN to existence is a key factor here. On the 27th of August in 1976 when the (then) Federal Military Government, under Gen. Obasanjo invited several Church leaders of diverse denominations to Dodan Barracks, Lagos. The government’s sole purpose was to hold a discussion with the Church leaders, on the National Pledge and the salutation of the National Flag, which the government intended to introduce into the Nation’s Primary and Secondary Schools.
The Church Leaders did not object to the introduction of the two items provided on the condition that reading and reciting the National Pledge and saluting the National Flag would be preceded by the usual Morning Devotions which would obviously be done in the Christian way, during which the Staff and the Students of each school worship their Creator and offer Praises and Prayers to Him, this was to further embed the Christian faith in an educational ambience that comprises people of other faiths including the Muslim students of course.
This was not an ” impunity” to the church because the moves were to serve their purpose. Immediately after the meeting the Church leaders spontaneously decided to go to a place, not too far from Dodan Barracks where they could hold another meeting, hence the CAN was formed. You could read more about this here http://cannigeria.org
Since impunity is being selectively redefined by CAN, we can make a correct judgement out of that. But it is very embarrassing for a religious body like CAN to spot every diplomatic move by the government to be religiously motivated if we all desire a progressive nation. The unpleasant usage of “Islamisation” and repeated roaring of blasphemy assertions by CAN are more popular than the solutions every Nigerian seek to advance the National progress. And this is not good for us as a nation.
I would humbly pick my conclusion by re-editing the statement from the NCEF release because they need it more. Nigerians wish to remind the present CAN Administration that religion is a very sensitive and emotional aspect of Nigerians.
The wisdom of the founding fathers of this nation to adopt Liberal Democracy as national ideology to accommodate all the divergent groups in the nation cannot be faulted. Any attempt to distort that delicate balance in the Nigerian society shall produce nothing but destruction and devastation. There is still time for religious extremists to desist before they push Nigeria off the brink of the precipice.
The Center For Human Rectitude humbly pleads to CAN to be careful of its sensitive and divisive statements that can incite national unrest. The nation needs solutions to the current national challenges not distractions.
By Yusuf Jimoh Aweda, Director, Center For Human Rectitude.