EDITORIAL: Religious leaders’ obligation to promote unity

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On April 1, 2019 the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in a statement made public pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress that “Religious Dichotomy” in the national political leadership of the country should be corrected.

The public statement was hinged on the endorsement of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively. Both candidates are Muslims.

To CAN, fairness and true federal character should be observed in the choice of the leadership of the National Assembly and also avoid domination and marginalization of any kind in the “interest of equity, justice, and fair play as enshrined in the 1999 constitution (as amended).”

According to the National President of the body, Samson Ayokunle, ethnic and religious balance would go a long way to remove any apprehension and suspicion harboured towards the leadership of the country.

In spite the National Assembly having various principal officers, CAN was specific on the office of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. He said, “As it has been the practice since 1999, whenever the Senate President is a Christian, the Speaker of the House has always been a Muslim and vice-versa. And the same thing happens to their deputies.”

He said the quest of the association becomes imperative due to the existing order in the two other arms of the government. He based his advised on the fact that the President and the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria are both Muslims.

But the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) faulted CAN’s appeal in another release that was a response to CAN’s appeal. The Muslim group in a statement signed by its Deputy Secretary-General, Salisu Shehu, described CAN’s call as indecorous, ill-advised, ill-motivated and only aimed at polarising the country.

In the strong worded statement, the group recalled that between 2009 and 2011 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was President, Justice Aloyious Katsina-Alu was the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Senator David Mark was the Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu was Deputy Senate President.

The Islamic body also accused CAN of delving into politics more than it is expected of a religious body.

IMAPCT NEWS is in absolute alignment with the dictate of the 1999 Constitution as amended to the latter. We enjoined political leaders to ensure that the spirit of fairness, justice and federal character is adhered to. Meanwhile we also caution that as a country we must not allow capacity to deliver be slaughtered on the altar of federal character. The development of the country is of great import than any dictate of the Federal Character Act.

More importantly, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) should desist from overheating the polity. The two bodies are expected to work harmoniously to promote collective interest of Nigeria.

The CAN and NSCIA must note that when elders exchange diatribes when they are expected to maintain comportment and decorum, the young ones would be motivated to break tables. Overheating the polity would only blow ill-wind that does nobody any good.

There is no shying away that some parts of the country are ethnically and religiously divided, it behoves on CAN and NSCIA to mend the bridge of unity in these parts of the country for a safe and prosperous country. This should be their primary responsibility rather than delving into politics for religious gain.

Two wrongs can never make a right. We advised that CAN and NSCIA should work harmoniously to ensure that no part of the country is left out in political leadership and the development of the country.  

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