Christian body demands Nigeria’s exit from OIC, D-8
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday hosted leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with a promise to address lopsidedness in federal appointments.
A statement issued later by the President’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president told the CAN delegation that he had already given instructions for the submission of all the names of heads of parastatals in order to address the allegations of lopsidedness in appointments.
“On the question of one-sided appointments, we will look at it. I have given instructions that a list of all heads of parastatals be submitted to me and I know they will not delay in doing that,’’ Adesina quoted the president as saying.
He also said the president assured religious leaders, and all Nigerians, that his administration would address rising concerns on corruption, insecurity and injustices in various parts of the country.
The CAN delegation was led by its President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle.
The Christian group used the opportunity of the meeting with Buhari to reiterate its opposition to Nigeria’s membership of international Islamic organisations and demanded Nigeria’s immediate exit from such organisations.
The Christian group also tasked the president to henceforth halt government’s involvement in Islamic financial systems, describing both as a violation of the Nigerian constitution which designates the country as a secular state.
Answering questions from journalists after the meeting, the CAN President said the government had the responsibility to sustain the sanctity of the constitution and hence, withdraw its membership of various international Islamic organisations.
Nigeria is currently a member of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and D-8 which are both assemblies of Islamic states.
The country also belongs to some global Islamic financial organisations such as International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation which recently elected Nigeria’s Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, as its Chairman.
It also recently sold Islamic bond, Sukkuk, to Nigerians which was oversubscribed.
But CAN insist that Nigeria’s membership of such bodies and participation in any religious financial system should be stopped forthwith.
“The organisations that are religious where Nigerian presently is a member and signed treaties, the government should pull out of them in order to keep the sanctity of the constitution,” Ayokunle stated.
Ayokunle insisted that Nigeria’s participation in Islamic financial system was unconstitutional and be stopped with a view to giving all Nigerians a sense of belonging, pointing out that while Moslem bodies reserve the right to participate in such financial systems, it was wrong of the government which ought to protect the constitution to lead the way.
“Yes, we talked about keeping very close to the constitution. As l said before, there wasn’t any demon in Sukuk bond. But what was wrong is the constitutionality. No CAN member is opposed to any Muslim running their own financial system, but it is wrong for the government to be the one who will be promoting it and initiating it. It was a violation of the constitution.
“We have talked to the government today to keep the sanctity of the constitution which will guide the behaviour and actions of everyone. They must be able to keep everybody together,” he added.
However, the CAN Chairman said the delegation was humbled by the president’s calm and humane response to its demands in such a way that people could be moved to support the government.
According to him, the president explained that the menace of herdsmen was the fallout of the killing of former Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi, which he said forced the herdsmen down South but stated that the government admitted that it is a problem that requires its solution.
Ayokunle also said that CAN leadership demanded for payment of salaries and allowances of workers in various states of the federation, observing that the situation could get out of hand and create tension in the polity as he cited how the trend had begun to lead to suicide among unpaid workers.
He also said the group demanded a decisive handling of the menace of herdsmen in various parts of the country as well as the recruitment of more policemen to handle the spate of insecurity and militancy.
Ayokunle said the group wants implementation of its demands adding that it had spoken out its mind because it wishes the government well and will continue to support it.
“Action! Action!! Action!!! Beyond the promises, we want to see physical changes that will make all of us to be happy especially in the area of lopsided appointments where some states have 30 people and another state having less than three. This will not give any sense of belonging to the government and to the country.
“We have been very supportive to this government. When you see people speaking out their minds, you should know that those people don’t want things to scatter. The people that don’t talk are the enemies of the nation. When you see things going wrong, you quickly speak out so that they can be corrected so that the nation can move together are one,” he stated.
On the same day, the President also received a delegation of the Jama’atul Nasirul Islam (JNI), led by its Secretary General, Khalid Abubakar Aliyu at the State House.
He assured them that his administration would also ensure the reform of the police and judiciary as he described both institutions as critical for the security and stability of the nation.
“There is no way we can be comfortable in our country unless we are lucky to have a good police force and judiciary.
“We need a good police force and judiciary to really maintain the legitimacy and the confidence of the populace in governance,’’ Adesina quoted the president as saying.
Furthermore, Adesina said the president assured both CAN and JNI leaders that his administration would always be guided by the rule of law and constitutionality in prosecuting all those that had been accused of corruption.
He added that Buhari explained to the JNI delegation that corruption in the country had taken a cultural dimension and urged all religious leaders and Nigerians to join him in the fight in order to reverse the trend.
“When something becomes a culture, it is more difficult to stop, but collectively we will prevail,’’ he was further quoted.
It further said the Secretary-General of JNI appealed to the president to pay more attention to the yearnings of Nigerians, urging him to continually walk in the fear of God.