Kutigi, Bakare clash again over religious recitation at National Conference

A delegate, Dan Nwuanyanwu, advocated death penalty for corrupt public office holders.

The Chairman of the National Conference, Idris Kutigi, and Lagos-based pastor, Tunde Bakare, again clashed over the use of religious recitation during Tuesday’s plenary session.

Mr. Kutigi had on March 18 recited a Muslim prayer, “Bismi-llāhir-raḥmāni r-raḥīm,” meaning, “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious,and the Most Merciful,” before declaring the day’s proceeding open.

But Mr. Bakare raised objection against the use of the recitation, insisting that delegates must stick to the language used in conducting proceedings.

He referred to the Bible where Apostle Paul admonished Christians who speak in other tongues to interpret such tongues in order not to confuse their listeners.

During that sitting, the Chairman had agreed and even ruled that only English language would be used throughout the duration of the Conference.

However, Mr. Kutigi ignored the rule when he opened Tuesday’s plenary sitting with the Islamic prayer for God’s guidance, a situation which made Mr. Bakare again to raise a point of order.

Mr. Bakare said, “I have never seen you laugh like you have done in this Conference. I pray that you laugh last and live long for all of us. The Rules of the Proceedings of this Conference says everything will be conducted in English language.

“On the 18th of March, I made some observations and one of them was what you said in your opening remarks. I want to make an addendum to that.

“In a bid to build bridges and not war, Mr. Odumakin had raised the same objection and the deputy chairman overruled.

“Sir, I have since realised that it is not intimidation on your path. It is just your way of opening the Conference. When my brother representing the Islamic Council finished his speech, I went there to embrace him for building bridges. I also went to the Lamido of Adamawa to ask him for my own passport to Cameroon in case there is trouble.

“Mr. Chairman, let us speak the language that everyone understands. Let us stick to what somebody did yesterday when he said ‘In the name of God, the Most Gracious, and the Most Merciful.’

“That way, we know that it is a prayer coming from the heart. In the holy book that I read, Apostle Paul said ‘He who speaks in an unknown tongue must interpret so that others can understand.’”

When Mr. Bakare’s point of order was completely ignored by Mr. Kutigi,who went ahead to recognise the next speaker, other delegates murmured at the action.

Another clash was averted at the Conference when delegates shouted down the North-East delegate, Ibrahim Bunu, while presenting a paper on the growing insurgency in the North.

Trouble started when Mr. Kutigi permitted Mr. Bunu to present the paper on the floor but was shouted down by other delegates barely two minutes after he started speaking. Mr. Nwuanyanwu advocated death penalty for corrupt public office holders, saying it was the only remedy for curbing corruption in the country.

The former Governor of Anambra state, Jim Nwobodo, compared Nigeria’s presidential system to that of the United States, but argued that the demerits of the system were more than its merits.

The former governor said, “The only country that practices the presidential system in the world like the Americans are Nigerians. The system has its merits and demerits. The demerits outweigh its merits.

“For me, religion is not an issue in Nigeria. It is a creation of those who want to rule forever. I see the hope of tomorrow in the youth of today. Let us replicate what the youth have done for us. They have made us proud in many ways.”

A former Minister of Health, ABC Nwosu spoke in a similar vein.

He said the control of excessive power by the central government remains one of the reasons why the country is not making significant progress and called for the devolution of power to zones and states.

“In devolving powers, we have to sharply define federating units. I recommend the zones,” Mr. Nwosu said.

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