The National Democratic Front (NDF) has warned the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and its Muslim equivalent, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), to stop interfering in political affairs of the country or be publicly disgraced.
The group gave the warning after the NSCIA ridiculed CAN for demand for religious balancing in the election and appointment of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly.
President of CAN Olasupo Ayokunle, through a statement, had urged the newly elected federal lawmakers to “avoid domination and marginalisation of any kind in the interest of equity, justice, and fair play,” as they consider who to elect as principal officers.
“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,” CAN had 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 the Muslim group fired back with a sensational press release by its Deputy Secretary-General, Salisu Shehu.
NSCIA said that it doubted the sincerity of CAN, suggesting that the religious group should metamorphose into a political party based on its recent comments on politics.
The Muslim body asked several questions?
“Is CAN suffering from selective amnesia or is it just obsessed with chronic mendacity? Was there no CAN between 2009 and 2011 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Justice Aloyious Katsina-Alu was the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Senator David A. B. Mark was President of the Senate and Senator Ike Ekweremadu was Deputy Senate President? Was there religious balance in 2007 when David Mark was elected Senate President and Patricia Etteh was elected Speaker? Was there no 1999 Constitution at that time?”
And in its reaction, the NDF, through its Secretary-General, Bolaji Abdulkadir, Monday said the recent comments by the aforementioned religious bodies could result in violence.
It said the two groups should instead focus on how to assist the federal government to tackle problems tied to terrorism, separatist agitations and militancy.
The statement read in part: “In the period leading to the general elections, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) became fully partisan. It started by leaning towards the endorsement of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“To drive home the point, many Christian clergymen were to later desecrate their altars by going full blown partisan and presented their campaign for PDP as Sunday sermons.
“If CAN’s indiscretion is cringe worthy, the decision of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to join its counterpart in the mud is beyond describable.
“Ironically, in our view, CAN, NSCIA and other groups that have become cheerleaders for political parties are not even doing so in order for reputable persons to emerge.
“They are rather shopping for those that would loot the treasury and remit part of the proceeds of crime to their members.
“With this kind of attitude, there is no doubt that the Church and the Mosque have refused to take their eyes away from corruption. Their approach to the scourge has made it fashionable in government circle where people steal without mercy and only to pay same back to their paymasters.
“The most glaring area of failure on the part of both organisations is their open endorsement of corruption and theft of public funds. Politicians in Nigeria identify either as Christians or Muslims and it is highly unfashionable for those seeking elective offices to identify as skeptics, agnostics or atheists.
“As they continue making less than responsible comments and interventions in the politics, we wonder if CAN and NSCIA are aware that they are increasingly appearing like the religious wings of the PDP and APC. This is clearly dangerous to democracy more so when APC had been maligned in the past as a party that has an Islamisation agenda and the PDP is increasingly appearing like a party favoured in Christian dominated areas.”
“If the leaders of CAN and NSCIA continue to indulge this misconception until it becomes a reality, then the blood of those that would die from potential crises from this shall be on their hands.”