Nigeria has overtime hovered between life and death on numerous national challenges which range from economic, social, security and corruption.

Unlike in the past when governments (military and politicians) attempted to polarised us into religious and regional proclivities; the present government, albeit amidst tension, appears to be pulling our centripetal strings, applying its force and working tirelessly to combat corruption, insecurity, economic woes and regular religious with tribal crises that have characterised and threatened our country’s existence.

These tendencies have indeed pillared diabolic structures, obscuring the nation from rising to the impending renaissance of national prospects.

Unfortunately, as this redeeming effort is being selflessly waged, Nigerians are beginning to realize how some individuals are shielding their corruption and evil records with religious helmets and simultaneously deliberately inciting religious misunderstandings to thwart the progressive effort of the government. They clandestinely orchestrate a national distraction with a view to protecting themselves and obliterate whatever could ameliorate the Nation’s developmental laxities.

As the nation heaved a sigh of relief at the easing out of its highly controversial former President, Reverend Ayo Oritsejafor and the coming of a new one, Reverend Supo Ayokunle Nigerian woke up to unintelligible display of another macabre dance from the once upon a time, reverred Christian Association of Nigeria.

On the average, CAN has published a press release every month within the last four months, with none, neither acknowledging nor addressing the economic, security, health and educational progress or challenges. The Association rather vindictively made religious controversies out of every action of the government in order to stir the religious tranquility of the country into another conflagration.

Nigerians were ridiculously jiggled to read CAN’s controversial release, alleging religious agenda and support of America for the “Islamization” of Nigeria over  the recent John Kerry’s visit to Buhari and Northern governors. Internationally, this is not only an embarrassment to the nation’s intellectual acumen, cerebral fecundity and appreciation of delicate global diplomacy, it constitutes a dent to our national intelligence and integrity.

One is bent to ask whether the leadership of CAN is well informed enough to appreciate Nigeria’s geography and its ethnic spread. Do they even realise that all Northerners are not Muslims? Doesn’t Northern Nigeria has a Christian governor? Do they even remember that the Vice President is a Senior Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God just as the Number Four citizen, the Speaker of House of Representatives (Yakubu Dogara) is a devout Christian?

This deliberate controversial misadventure continued when the CAN made a hasty release that its members were massacred in the unfortunate killings in Zamfara. It took an exceptional effort of the more matured Northern CAN to clarify the misinformation to the general public – that none of its members was killed.

What surprises the rightly thinking Nigerians is the similarities between CAN and the opposition party as well as pro-corruption elements – in the spirit and letters of criticisms and controversial statements. It is indeed puzzling as those releases mirror prejudicial statements of some individuals who have corruption questions to answer.

Could it be correct as it is being speculated in some quarters that CAN is now being used as anti-government tool to distract the public by creating an atmosphere of crisis, with a view to freezing the pursuit of anti-corruption war?

What is more ridiculous is the latest release by the so called ‘Elders’ in this imbroglio. I had for long dismissed previous releases as misleading rantings from those seeking for cheap popularity, but I was coerced to put forth this piece on Monday when I read that the coalition of 22 Christian groups in Nigeria led by the regularly misleading, National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), has condemned the declaration of September 12 as a public holiday to commemorate Eid-El-Kabir (Eid-el-Adha) by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, describing it as the ‘height of impunity’. 

For God’s sake, this is another needless distraction in the thick of recession battering every Nigerian.

Globally, it is obvious that the Sultan’s announcement, as the leader of the Muslims in Nigeria is a formality, merely to inform the faithful statement of the anticipated date of the festival. It is public knowledge that Islamic month is determined by the sighting of the moon, and the Sultan’s role is to educate and inform both the government and his members, of the unique Islamic days as the Eid.

With or without the announcement, the Muslims would surely be on holiday on Eid day and the announcement by the Sultan constitute neither a replacement nor an attempt to override the government’s Declaration, but to buttress, guide and corroborate it. The NCEF inciting statement is as ridiculous as anyone attacking the declaration of December 25th as a holiday for the Christians. And of course, every sane mind knows that December 25 is a Christian special day, which should never be a subject of debate, except for a busy body like NCEF.

And by the way, talking about ‘impunity’, would it be calculatingly correct to assert that the reason CAN is making a controversial religious statements in the present regime of a Muslim president is because, CAN itself is a product of impunity and it is scared of being deliberately sidelined like it was done to the people of other faiths when a Christian President was in power and CAN and its officials were leaving large, benefiting from corruption exploits of the ‘stealing is not corruption’ government.

Sure, I am not going to mention the numerous impurities of the Christian leaders at the 2014 National Confab of the last administration, and the controversial 15 million dollars ferried via the private jet of the immediate past Christian leader, among other countless questionable and shady deals that Nigerians and the government have grudgingly ignored to maintain the delicate balance.

Historically, many have argued that the very reason that spurred CAN into existence may not have been unconnected to its hysterical and uncoordinated actions.

Precisely, on the 27th of August in 1976, the Military Government, under General Olusegun Obasanjo invited several Church Leaders of diverse denominations to Dodan Barracks, Lagos with the sole purpose of holding a discussion with them on the National Pledge and the salutation of the National Flag, which the Government intended to introduce into the Nation’s primary and secondary schools.

The Church leaders did not object to the introduction of the two items, on the condition that reading and reciting the National Pledge and saluting the National Flag would be preceded by the usual Morning Devotions which would obviously be done in the Christian way, during which the Staff and the Students of each school worship and offer Praises and Prayers to their Creator. This was to further entrench the Christian faith in an educational environment that comprises people of other faiths, including the Muslim students.

This was never to be seen as an “impunity” to the Church since the move was to serve its purpose. Immediately after the meeting, the Church Leaders spontaneously decided to go to a place, not too far from Dodan Barracks where they held another meeting. Consequently, the Christian Association of Nigeria was witnessed. Read more about this here http://cannigeria.org
It is quite embarrassing how impunity is now being selectively redefined. It more disturbing for supposedly a respectable religious body to wear every diplomatic move by the government with religious garb, alleging religious motivation.

Treading such path will surely not be of help if we truly desire a progressive nation.

For instance, the vindictive usage of “Islamization” and repeated roaring of inciting statements by CAN are are at variance to the solutions Nigerians desperately need to advance the National progress.

Let me make my humble submission by adjusting a statement from the NCEF’s release, because it theirs and they need it the more.

“Nigerians wish to remind the present CAN executive (Administration) that religion is a very sensitive and emotional aspect of Nigerians. The wisdom of the founding fathers of this nation to adopt Liberal Democracy as national ideology to accommodate all the divergent groups in the nation cannot be faulted.

“Any attempt to distort that delicate balance in the Nigerian society shall produce nothing but destruction and devastation as the nation is currently witnessing. There is still time for religious extremists to desist before they push Nigeria off the brink of the precipice.”

It is thus pertinent to plead with CAN to be careful with its sensitive and divisive statements that could incite national unrest. The nation needs solutions to the current national challenges, not distractions.

Yusuf Jimoh Aweda,
Director, Center For Human Rectitude can be contacted via yusufomo99@hotmail.com
www.fb.com/centerforhumanrectitude

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