The demand for religious balance in the election and appointment of the leadership of the Ninth Session of the National Assembly, by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has been opposed by its Muslim counterpart; the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).
NSCIA, in a statement signed by its Deputy Secretary General, Salisu Shehu, described CAN’s action as indecorous, ill-advised, ill-motivated and only aimed at polarising the country. The Muslim body said it doubted CAN’s sincerity and suggested that it should form a political party based on its recent comments in the nation’s political affairs.
A statement earlier issued by CAN President’s Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, urged newly-elected members of the Ninth National Assembly to “avoid domination and marginalization of any kind in the interest of equity, justice, and fair play,” especially in the election and appointment of principal officers including Senate President, Speaker and their deputies.
But, NSCIA said it was surprised by CAN’s reference to constitutional provisions to back its claim, and asked whether the Constitution was not in use when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, David Mark, Ike Ekweremadu and Justice Katsina-Alu served in the same administration as president, senate president, deputy senate president and chief justice, respectively.
“Given the trajectory of the recent activities of the CAN, 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. “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 appear to be giving credence and relevance to the rhetorical question asked centuries ago: “if gold rusts, what should iron do?”
NSCIA accused the CAN leadership of preaching hatred against Muslims and advised the religious group to desist from causing confusion and divisions based on what it described as “personal and selfish interest.”
It also accused CAN leadership of mounting pressure on judges on the election petition appeal panels to tilt the scales of judgements in favour of Christian candidates, and advised the judges to be fair and firm in the execution of their tasks.