President Goodluck Jonathan
By John Shiklam in Kaduna
Spokesman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Sunday Oibe, has alleged that Northern Christians feel more marginalised and discriminated against by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said this is inspite of the support which they gave him during the April 2011 presidential election.
Oibe in an interview with THISDAY in Kaduna yesterday, maintained that the Jonathan-led government had not been fair to Christians in the region in terms of appointments from the region in spite of the persistent attacks on Christians by the Boko Haram sect for voting him.
The CAN spokesman, who said he was expressing his personal views and not the views of CAN in the north, alleged that most appointments into federal agencies, parastatals and institutions from the north were lopsided in favour of the Muslims in the region.
He alleged for instance, that of the 22 federal appointments in Kaduna State, only two of appointees are Christians while the rest are Muslims, saying it was most unfair and unjust in a state like Kaduna.
“Ironically northern Christians voted massively for Jonathan in 2011. It will not be wrong to say that the Boko Haram sect members are bombing churches and killing Christians because they voted Jonathan. Otherwise how one could explain the frequent attack on churches and Christians! It is because we voted Jonathan,” he added.
He noted further that besides the appointments in Kaduna State, there is also imbalance in appointments of northerners who are heading federal agencies and institutions.
“Look at Kaduna Polytechnic which is a Federal Government institution, but a Muslim must be the rector, look at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, even when a most qualified person top the list of those vying for the post of the Vice Chancellor, he was rejected because he is not a Muslim,” he said.
“Look at the appointment made by President in federal institutions and establishments! The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the executive secretary of Petroleum Training Development Fund (PTDF), the Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the National security adviser, the Inspector General of Police, the executive secretary of the National Teachers Institute (NTI), the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the Director General of Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), Zaria, the rector of Kaduna Polytechnic etc are all Muslims from the north. Does this mean that there is no Christian who is qualified to hold any of these positions?
Oibe also criticised the federal government for spending N5 billion of tax payersí money for the establishment of Almajiri schools, while public schools are collapsing and without giving a dime to Christians to equally support their educational system.
According to him, ìAs a Christian, my children cannot go to that school. These are open discrimination against Christians that we see on a daily basis. There are some states in the north that the airing of Christian programmes on the radio and television are prohibited even if it is going to be paid for, including the NTA which is owned by the Federal Government.
ìTo me, the Jonathan government has not been fair to Christians in the north in spite of the total support we gave him. Our people were massacred and slaughtered like rams, but he chooses to spend N5 billion on Almajiri school and discriminate against us in terms of appointments.
ìIn fact we feel more marginalised under this government. That is the serious pain in our heart. Let me give you a practical example of one man, I donít want to mention his name. He was highly qualified to be appointed minister of defence, but because he is a Christian from one of the states in the North West, when his name was submitted for the position, but our Muslim brothers from that state kicked against it and they are now presenting their own candidate.
ìMr. President went to Adamawa to visit flood victims, but he only visited Muslim areas that were affected and left. I leant that the governor of Adamawa told him that it was not safe for him to visit the area where Christian victims of the flood were being camped.
ì Look at the issue of Jos. Plateau state voted massively for Jonathan, but some people have made a written policy that there must not be peace in Jos. Look at how a senator and a member of the House of Assembly were killed! This cannot happen anywhere.
ìAll we get to hear is ëwe are on top of the situationí, they will set up a commission of inquiry and you never get to hear anything again after that,î he lamented.
Oibe, however, said Christians in the north were not losing faith in the President, stressing that ìwe will continue to pray for him to do the right thing by being just and fair to all so that we can all have a sense of belonging as Nigerians.î
ìI am not saying that he should favour Christians, no not at all! I am saying in the interest of justice and fair play, he should carry everybody alone. He should stop this injustice against Christians in the north,î he said.
He maintained that for Nigeria to move forward, leaders must always be told the truth, pointing out that one of the things that is lacking in Nigeria is truth.
ìWhat I have said here is what many people are saying on the street, but you see, one of the commodities that is lacking in this country is truth. Everybody wants to celebrate falsehood. I have no apology for what I have said here because if you sample the opinion of every Christian on the street, you will agree with what I am saying.
ìWe must tell the truth because we are accountable to God. Without truth and Justice, Nigeria cannot move forward,î he declared.