The umbrella body for Nigerian Christians, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has called for religious balancing in the incoming leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The group made the call through a statement by Adebayo Oladeji, the spokesperson to the CAN President, Samson Ayokunle.
The call came days after the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress anointed current majority leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives – Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila – as its preferred candidates for Senate presidency and House speakership respectively.
See full statement by CAN below.
LET THE INCOMING LEADERSHIP OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY REFLECT RELIGIOUS BALANCE – CAN
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) congratulates all the newly elected members of the National Assembly on their victory at the recently conducted general election. It is our prayers that God who granted you the victory will not let you down. You will experience a successful tenure of office. You will not disappoint God and the people who gave you the mandate.
As you prepare for your inauguration, CAN urges you to balance the appointments of your Principal Officers across religious divides to avoid domination and marginalisation of any kind in the interest of equity, justice, and fair play as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
We, from the Christian Association of Nigeria, recognize the importance of the National Assembly to the stability and growth of our polity. It is in this regard that we call for ethnic and religious balance with depth in picking the leadership of that great institution of democracy. To ensure that this happens is to remove any apprehension and suspicion harboured towards the leadership of this country.
Although both the Senate and the House of Representatives have several principal officers but our focus here are the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. 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.
Our quest becomes imperative due to the existing order in the two other arms of the government. Today, both the President and the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria are Muslims and our appeal is to let either the Senate President or the Speaker be a Christian to address the religious dichotomy. This will give all Nigerians a sense of belonging irrespective of their religious affiliations.
And a critical study of Chapter 14 (13 and 14) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) underscores this truth
(3) The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.
(4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation.
CAN calls on the 9th National Assembly members to address both the religious and the North and South dichotomies in the interest of equity, justice and fair play. We assure our lawmakers of our prayers as they make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation.
We also urge both the Presidency and the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to support the position of the Association in its quest to find an enduring peace, unity and development for our Fatherland.
Doing this will go a long way in fixing some of the problems confronting our country today that are rooted in religious, tribal suspicion, domination and marginalisation at every level of the government.
In as much as we agree that merit should not be sacrificed in every appointment, but there are Christians who are equally credible and capable of running the affairs of the National Assembly and other key positions in the government if given the opportunity.
Those who had and still serving in one office or the other are our living proofs.
Once again, we rejoice with you and congratulate you all. We give you the assurance of our spiritual support to this all-important arm of the government. CAN is also willing and ready to collaborate with the Leadership of the National Assembly when the need arises.
God bless Nigeria.
Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant, (Media & Communications), to the CAN President, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle.
1 April, 2019.