A religious organisation under the aegis of Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association, on Sunday said that negotiation, dialogue and true federalism with a weak centre would help to stabilise Nigeria and douse the tension among the nation’s ethnic nationalities.
The ACIPA also faulted alleged plans by the Federal Government to impose the National Grazing Reserve Council Bill as a law, describing it as unacceptable.
According to the group, embarking on such exercise without the consent of Nigerians and undergoing a referendum would be a threat to national peace and unity, and should be resisted.
The organisation suggested that in the alternative, state governments or Fulani herdsmen should purchase land in their state where they are domiciled for the purpose of grazing.
The President of ACIPA, Luke Shehu, raised these issues in a communique entitled, “No to secessionist, regionalist and religious bigots,” issued after their meeting held in Jos at the national Headquarters of TEKAN (Tarayar Ekklisiyoyin Kristi A Nigeria, meaning, Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri Christians) and obtained by The PUNCH.
He said, “Like other true patriots and majority of Nigerians, we believe that true federalism with a weak centre will help stabilise the polity and meet sectarian demands. In the same manner, we call on government to ensure that social justice and rule of law are applicable norms and practice in our society. Nothing short of the global obtainable standards will be acceptable by Nigerians from this or any future administration. We are prepared to encourage negotiation and dialogue.
“The attack on Igbo in the North is an attack on Christians in the North as well. We are aware of precedents in such antics. The quit notice to Igbo is a systematic attack to subdue Christianity and Christians in the North with a gradual plan to overrun Nigeria.
“The Igbo leadership should take a bold step to refrain from provoking the psyche of Nigerians with the Biafra secession threat. While agreeing that their demand is legitimate, holding Nigeria to ransom or threatening Nigeria with another secessionist agenda is unacceptable and will be counter-productive. The Igbo should rather resort to employing civil democratic norm of negotiation lobbying and politics of give and take to achieve their goals.”
The group also demanded the immediate inclusion of Hebrew and Greek Languages as well as Church History to subjects for Christian students at all levels in the nation’s secondary school curriculum to aid children in their understanding of the Bible in its original context, adding that the threat of Fulani herdsmen should not be overlooked.
Shehu said, “We are conscious of the effects of global warming and desertification on grazing in the North. In view of these challenges amongst others, we appreciate and commend the contribution of cattle rearers to Nigeria’s commercial activities and agricultural sub-sector of the economy.
“However, the indigenous tribes in the North are predominantly farmers, like the south-western and eastern Nigeria indigenous people, all do not subscribe to the Federal Government’s insistence on a grazing reserve policy favorable to herdsmen as against indigenous farmers homeland.
“In this regard, the ploy and plot to impose the National Grazing Reserve Council Bill as a law without the consent of Nigerians through a referendum is unacceptable. In the alternative, state government or herdsmen should purchase land in their state where the Fulani herdsmen are domiciled for the purpose of grazing.”
The ACIPA called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to use his influence as a Fulani and grand leader of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to check the menace of either foreign or local herdsmen.
Shehu expressed concern that in the present administration, a Muslim is the Minister of Education and heads the Nigeria Education Research and Development Council.
“Muslim students have three variables, namely, Islamic Religious Knowledge, Arabic Studies and Islamic History. This has dire implication for the Church and the impartation of Christian moral values to our children.
“We are therefore demanding the immediate inclusion of Hebrew and Greek Languages as well as Church History to be added to subjects for Christian students at all levels in secondary school to aid our children in their understanding of the Bible in its original context.”