NIGERIAN SUPREME COUNCIL FOR ISLAMIC AFFAIRS
ON CAN’S LETTER TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Given the trajectory of the recent activities of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), like other informed groups and people in Nigeria, cannot but wonder whether CAN still remains a religious body or a political party in a religious garb. The Council is persuaded to believe the latter as the only agenda which gives strength, breath and relevance to CAN nowadays and since the past one decade is the Association’s posture as the counterfoil for and opposition to everything Islam and Muslims in this country.
We cannot also but wonder whether Islamophobia has indeed not replaced the more important responsibility of giving direction to millions of our compatriots who are law abiding-citizens of the Christian faith. It is really benumbing that CAN appears to be giving credence and relevance to the rhetorical question asked centuries ago: “if gold rust, what should iron do?”
Specifically, the statement issued by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji (Special Assistant Media and Communication to CAN President) on behalf of CAN is the last straw to break the camel’s back in the Association’s ill-advised and ill-motivated interventions in the polity. The statement of CAN, addressed to the leadership of the National Assembly, partly reads:
“As you prepare for your inauguration, CAN urges you to balance the appointments of your principal officers across religious divides to avoid domination and marginalisation of any kind in the interest of equity, justice, and fair play as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“We, from the Christian Association of Nigeria, recognize the importance of the National Assembly to the stability and growth of our polity. It is in this regard that we call for ethnic and religious balance with depth in picking the leadership of that great institution of democracy. To ensure that this happens is to remove any apprehension and suspicion harbored towards the leadership of this country.
“Although both the Senate and the House of Representatives have several principal officers, our focus here are the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. 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.”
Is CAN plagued by amnesia or is it just obsessed with chronic mendacity? Was there no CAN between 2009 and 2011 when Dr Gooduck Jonathan was the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Justice Aloyious Katsina-Alu was the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Senator David A. B. Mark was President of the Senate and Senator Ike Ekweremadu was Deputy Senate President? Was there religious balance in 2007 when David Mark was elected Senate President and Patricia Etteh was elected Speaker? Well, Dimeji Bankole became Speaker by mere coincidence because of the resignation of Patricia Etteh from the position. Was the principle of equity, justice and fairplay being bandied now not yet enshrined in the 1999 Constitution at that time?
The chronic intolerance and political partisanship of CAN and its alter egos are getting to an alarming rate; they are ardent at purveying blatant falsehood and fake news. A few examples would suffice:
Prior to the 2015 elections, CAN commissioned the duo of Samuel Asemota and Pastor Bosun Emmanuel (the latter was a delegate of CAN at the 2014 National Conference) to be going round churches preaching hatred against Muslims and Islam. Pastor Bosun said in one of such outings, “any Christian who planned to vote for the APC was directly sponsoring the Islamic agenda and contributing to the truncation of Christianity in Nigeria.”
Pastor David Oyedepo’s hatred-driven embarrassing misinterpretation of a satire written by Professor Olatunji Dare was used as a basis to excite and incite his congregation against President Muhammadu Buhari that the President had indeed died in London and that the present occupant of the Aso Rock is a body-double by name Jubril al-Sudan from Sudan.
Many of the so-called “men of God” like Bishop David Oyedepo, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, Apostle Omotosho Tope, Prophet Muiyideen Kasali, Prophet Emmanuel Chukwudi and Prophet Samuel Akinbodunse proclaimed fake prophesies about President Buhari and the 2019 election with a view to inciting their followers to violence when the “word of God is not manifested.” Their South Africa-based colleague, Pastor Samuel Akinbodunse, even went a notch higher by claiming that God told him “President Muhammadu Buhari will not see 2019 elections.” What a shame! The President is hale and hearty. These are clearly fake prophesies from renegade “men of God” because the Almighty God cannot be associated with falsehood.
CAN also harshly condemned Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna for choosing a Muslim as his running mate and claimed that he had committed a political hara-kiri. The same CAN chose to turn a blind eye to Ekiti, Benue, Edo, Ondo and Plateau States where Muslims have a substantial number of indigenes and yet are denied the Deputy Governorship slots. Civilian Governors of Plateau State, for instance, prior to 1999, had their deputies as Muslims but since the advent of the Fourth Republic, Muslims have not been considered for the position of Deputy Governor and yet the NSCIA has chosen not to recklessly rock the boat but our silence is now being taken as stupidity by CAN. The sheer impudence of CAN leaders and their chronic lack of sincerity led them to release a statement that the leadership of parastatals under the Ministry of Education was dominated by Muslims but were embarrassed when the statistics of the last ten years was presented to them by NSCIA.
Let the Christian Association of Nigeria apply to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be registered as a full-fledged political party as “politicians in cassock”, to quote the CAN President himself, rather than fronting for politicians who nurse the ambitions of holding political offices. In other climes such as Australia, Germany, New Zealand, etc., there are Christian political parties and CAN should rather be straightforward and apply to be registered as a political party, if the Nigerian Constitution allows that tomfoolery.
Typical of the hypocritical CAN and its alter egos is their claim to be on the side of justice by forming the ‘National Peace Committee’ which not surprisingly is dominated by Christian clergymen and only dotted by two Muslims. The hypocrisy of the so-called ‘Peace Committee’ was exposed by the various comments/actions of their prominent members such as a member, who prior to the last election, took a partisan posture masquerading as a good doer but incited the people of Southern Kaduna against the government and a member, who despite his level of education, could not avail himself of historical facts but rather chose to spit the dummy that “the low turnout was a loud protest against the outcome of the presidential polls”. This is not surprising as CAN itself had maliciously referred to President Muhammadu Buhari as a ‘bad product’.
The NSCIA is also well-informed of the surreptitious pressure CAN is mounting on Christian judges serving in the various election petition tribunals across the Country, under a pseudo-Christian organization, to ensure the victory of Christians and/or their sympathizers.
The effrontery of CAN in releasing unguarded and reckless statements which are meant to further divide the country has necessitated the resolve of NSCIA to consider reviewing its membership of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) with immediate effect. Or what is the essence of conferring with bigoted and hate-filled pseudo-religious leaders whose wish is for Muslims to be exterminated from the polity and Nigerian society?
All these must stop! CAN should save itself of always collocating “CAN of worms” in the minds of well-meaning Nigerians any time it comes up with its divisive and evil-impelled interventions.
Lo! You are the ones who love them but they love you not, and you believe in all the Scriptures [i.e. you believe in the Tawraat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), while they disbelieve in your Book, the Qur'aan]. And when they meet you, they say: ‘We believe.' But when they are alone, they bite the tips of their fingers at you in rage. Say: ‘Perish in your rage.’ Certainly, Allah knows what is in the breasts (all the secrets). [Al'Imraan:118-119]
Prof. Salisu Shehu,
Deputy Secretary-General, NSCIA