The demand for religious balancing in the election and appointment of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been criticized by its Muslim counterpart- the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).
The Muslim group in a statement signed by its Deputy Secretary-General, Salisu Shehu, described CAN’s call as indecorous, ill-advised, ill-motivated and only aimed at polarising the country.
It said that it doubted the sincerity of the religious body and suggested that based on its recent interventions in the nation’s political affairs, CAN should rather metamorphose into a political party.
A statement earlier issued by CAN through Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant on Media and Communication to the association’s President, Olasupo Ayokunle, urged the newly elected members of the 9th National Assembly to “avoid domination and marginalisation 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.
CAN be noted in its statement that its suggestion is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“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,” the Christian body said.
“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.”
But responding, NSCIA said it was surprised by CAN’s reference to Constitutional provisions to back its claim, asking whether the Constitution was not in use when 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.
The statement reads in part; “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 because of 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?”
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SOURCES: PREMIUM TIME