- PFN chairman faults Nnamdi Kanu, pro-Biafra groups
John Shiklam in Kaduna and Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) wednesday condemned in strong terms what it described as â€œthe latest display of lack of nationalism by some groups and individuals from some sections of the country.
The religious body, in a statement issued in Kaduna at the end of its emergency meeting with the chairmen and secretaries of state chapters as well as the youths and women wings of the association, noted that while groups and individuals were free to agitate for whatever rights for the growth and progress of their people, such agitations must not create tension and division among Nigerians.
The statement signed by the chairman of the association Rev. Yakubu Pam and the Public Relations Officer, Rev. Joseph John Hayab said Nigeriaâ€™s unity should be consider the unity of the country above sectional interest.
The statement urged the government to, as a matter of urgency consider the best ways to address the issues causing the agitations by revisiting the last report of the 2014 National Conference.
The statement reads: â€œWe also wish to make it clear that we are stakeholders in the region called â€˜Northâ€™ or â€˜Arewaâ€™. We, therefore, condemn the hasty and ill-informed display of lack of thoughtfulness by a group by the name â€˜Arewa youthsâ€™ and their sponsors asking Igbo to leave the north of Nigeria with a timeline.
â€œLet the world know that we disassociate ourselves from this call, and after consultation with Christian youths across the region of northern Nigerian (Arewa) they too, have condemned the pronouncement in the strongest term and disassociate themselves from the so called group.
â€œWe support government and all groups that have publicly condemned this act and any other divisive call by any group in this country.
â€œWe are appealing to all the Igbo living and undertaking businesses in the North to keep calm and not be daunted, but instead, should strategise how to expand their businesses and services in the region.
â€œThey are fellow Nigerian citizens whom we love so dearly and appeal to them to consider the utterances and actions of the so-called â€˜Arewa youthsâ€™ as an aberration, and not a northern collective standpoint in any way.
â€œThe government must also ensure the protection of all Nigerians wherever they choose to live in this great country. In addition, we call on all Nigerians to desist from threatening one another as we should be our brothersâ€™ keepers. Without a doubt, nations are built and sustained by unity, not division…
â€œFinally, we, CAN 19 northern states, caution all those who are beating the drums of war to recognise that they are doing so for themselves because the equation of this country today has changed from that of 1967, and no one is ready and willing to sacrifice his/her life for an agenda that is not worth the expense such as that the agitators have contrived. We call on all and sundry to talk and walk for peace for the betterment of our dear fatherland.â€
The Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Enugu State chapter, Rev. Godwin Madu, has faulted the radical approach used by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to agitate for the marginalisation of the southeastern zone of Nigeria, insisting that such approach was not in the best interest of the Igbo nor Nigeria generally.
Madu, who spoke shortly after a special prayer meeting for peace in the country, organised by the Enugu PFN at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (Province of Excellence), Enugu, advised the IPOB leader and his group, as well as other pro-Biafra organisations to settle down and work on dialogue rather than engaging in activities that could â€œheat up the polity.â€
He said: â€œNigeria is good as a country. Anywhere we feel aggrieved, the matter could be addressed amicably instead of heating up the polity and creating unnecessary tension in the entire country,â€ he said.
In a related development, the PFN Chairman also appealed to Arewa youths to quickly sheath their sword and sue for peace since violence and crisis cannot benefit anybody.
He told the northern youths that Nigeria has no particular landlord, hence no tribe was empowered by the Nigerian Constitution to issue quit notice to any other ethnic group.
But a member of the state PFN, Nelson E. Israel, called upon the Igbo in the North not to take the threat by Arewa youths as an empty one, emphasising that â€œout of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.â€
Nelson, who claimed that he has three blood relations resident in the Nasarawa, Kaduna and Abuja, advised the Igbo to leave the North before the end of August 2017, insisting that they should not wait for September to end in order to avoid rush.
â€œThe Arewa youths have discussed the matter and they are not joking about it. If anything happens to the Igbo there, they will say but we told you; we gave you three months and you didnâ€™t comply,â€ he said.
He said he had communicated his relations in the North on the need to take the threat from northern youths serious.
Earlier during the prayer session, 36 persons representing the 36 states of the federation were called to the podium, to offer fervent prayers for God to usher peace to reign in the country, and bring to shame the trouble makers in the land.
While emphasising the efficacy of prayers in matters like the current tension in the country, the PFN said it was opposed to the quit notice given by the northern youths to the Igbo resident in the north, stressing that a â€œlot of souls had been wasted through needless hostilities as the blood of the innocent is crying to high heavens.â€
A founding member of the body, Dr. Obi Onubuogu stressed the need for dialogue as the main key to solving the nationâ€™s current problem, and enjoined the Igbo to love themselves and remain united to be able to face challenges confronting them.
Also, former secretary of the state PFN, Pastor Joseph Ajujungwa, called for peace and unity among the Igbo, noting that the prayer meeting became necessary because the PFN was against AREWA youthsâ€™ quit notice which â€œis unacceptable to the PFN.â€ Secretary General of the body, Rev Noble Oji, said it was only God that would bring peace in the country, and advised the Christians to be prayerful.
He also called on the media to be agents of uniting the country rather than dividing it, adding: â€œI would advise the media to be useful instrument for the promotion of peace in the country.â€