RELIGIOUS AND ETHNIC INTOLERANCE: CAN BACKS US decision on Nigeria
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has described the decision of the United States of America to place Nigeria on a special watch list for its religious intolerance as a welcome development.
The United State authorities had on Friday December 20 placed Nigeria on a Special Watch List for tolerating “severe violations of religious freedom.” Cuba and Nicaragua were also added to the list.
“No country, entity, or individual will be able to persecute people of faith with impunity,” United States’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo said. “These religious freedom designations show that when faith is attacked, we will act.”
In its response however, CAN in statement signed by Pastor Bayo Oladeji said it was happy that the US took that decision noting in the same breathe that it was not happy that Nigeria is being listed as one of the countries where religious intolerance is rife.
The Christian body explained “it gladdens our hearts that, at least, the global community is not unaware of the fact that Nigerian Christians are becoming endangered species in their Fatherland.”
While noting that the reasons given by the United States are too glaring to be disputed it noted that the Nigerian government had failed “to implement effective strategies to prevent or stop such violence or to hold perpetrators accountable,” as noted by the US government
The statement reads further that the “leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has made this known to President Muhammadu Buhari in all our meetings with him to see the whole country as his constituency and to avoid nepotism as much as possible. But instead of correcting the imbalance, one of his aides is fond of abusing and insulting the Association using every unprintable words.
It recalled that a few days ago, the Chief Justice of Nigeria called for amendment to the Constitution with a view to adding more Sharia contents.
It noted that “since the Chief Justice has not denied the story and the government has failed to call him to order, it is crystal clear that the US government has more facts than the government thinks. If the government is sensitive to our yearnings and aspirations, how come no Christian is heading any of the three arms of government in the present dispensation? This is unprecedented in the history of this country since Independence. Is that one of the reasons why no Christian worthy of occupying any of those sensitive positions?
The body further decried the composition of the National Security Council of the country saying, “we learnt that 98 per cent of its members come from one part of the country and people of same faith. Let the government unmask its members including their religions and states of origin. The government is telling us that Christians are not worthy for those key appointments but to play the second fiddle.”
The body stated that it had made its grievances known to the president regretting however that the action of the President “is strong enough to convince us that he is not ready to correct the imbalance of his appointments. He forgets that the country belongs to all Nigerians irrespective of their religious, tribal and political beliefs. The recent appointments in the Police is a good evidence to the critical posture of CAN.”
CAN said it is convinced that there is a subtle Islamisation agenda and nepotism in Nigeria. “All the key appointments that are being made since the second term of the President began follow same blueprint. These are facts and they are violations of some portions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). These include but not limited to Sections 10, 13 (3-4), 15 (2) (d) and (4).”
It then warned the government that “that no country survives two civil wars”. It called on the government “to correct the imbalances and not to be insensitive to the new development but instead address all the factors that are responsible. The government can deny all these facts to the governed but the US government cannot act on mere make-up stories.”
It said the US government is “not unaware of the untold hardship Christians are going through in the country, especially in states such as Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and Taraba where Christians are being slaughtered like rams by the Boko Haram terrorists and killer herdsmen while the security agencies appear powerless and complacent. And it seems as if the government of the day lacks political will to deal with the criminals?
While not unmindful that Muslims are also victims of Boko Haram onslaught, the body noted that the primary target of the insurgents are Christians.
The statement reads, “It is a fact that not fewer than 95 per cent of those who are being detained by the terrorists are Christians and the government has been paying lips service towards securing their freedoms.
“Leah Sharibu is a case study and the only reason why the government that secured the release of her colleagues has not freed her is because of her religion. We wonder why the government has not done the needful to liberate this innocent girl who happens to be a daughter of a Police officer.
“It is disheartening and disappointing to note that even the ongoing anti-graft war of the government is not an exemption. While CAN is not encouraging corrupt practices but we are against selective approach to the fight against corruption. From the position of this government, it is only few Christians holding key appointments in this dispensation that are corrupt. This is a fallacious position.
‘CAN urges the Federal Government to let its policies be implemented according to the dictates of the Constitution. The bitter truth is Christians are yet to be given any sense of belonging since this government came on board. Our prayers include wisdom and the courage for President Muhammadu Buhari to give all citizens a sense of belonging, irrespective of their religious, tribal and political affiliations. He should govern the country as the Father of the nation. We commend the United States for standing on the side of the oppressed and the truth.”