- CAN urges president to stop bloodshed in Kaduna, rescue Leah Sharibu, others
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja promised to ensure that all appointments in the second term of his administration are predicated on merit and national spread.
Buhari made this commitment while receiving the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) led by its President, Revd. Samson Ayokunle, who had visited him in the State House to congratulate him on his re-election.
The CAN president had enjoined the president to ensure fairness and even distribution of appointments across the country as against appointments dictated by ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Ayokunle also told the President that qualified men and women who could add value to the country and move it forward were available in all parts of the country.
He noted that it was only by fair appointments that the president could give every part of the country a sense of belonging.
He said: “We solicit for inclusiveness and fairness as you constitute your cabinet and appoint worthy Nigerians to the headship and membership of critical agencies, boards and parastatals.
“Your Excellency, there is no ethnic or religious group in Nigeria where you cannot find highly qualified men and women that you can engage to add value to your administration and help in moving the nation forward. This is the true and objective way in which you can give all in the country, a sense of belonging.”
Responding, President Buhari, who pledged to foster peaceful co-existence among Nigerians irrespective of their religious beliefs, promised to ensure that appointments into political offices are based on merit and national spread to give every part of the country a sense of belonging.
“We will continue to strive for peaceful co-existence among all Nigerians irrespective of their religious beliefs. In the area of allocation of political offices, our focus will be on merit and national spread such that every part of Nigeria will have a sense of belonging,” the president said.
Also responding to CAN’s demand for the release of Leah Sharibu, who had been in the captivity of Boko Haram since February 19, 2018 over her refusal to renounce her Christian faith, and the remaining Chibokgirls, Buhari promised to intensify efforts to fight terrorism and rescue those in captivity.
Ayokunle noted that every passing day spent by Leah in captivity inflicts pains on her parents and others who are also parents across the world, lamenting that Leah’s life was being wasted in captivity for no known sin but her decision to stick to her faith.
He appealed to the president to deploy powers within his reach to rescue Leah from captivity so that she and others in captivity can freely enjoy their lives.
The CAN President said: “Doing all within you to free Leah Sharibu and according it top priority, shall confer greater credibility on your government and on you as a person. Please and please, Mr. President, let Leah Sharibu and those in captivity of insurgents be freed to enjoy their lives.”
Responding, the president said: “We remain resolute in the fight against terrorism and insurgency, and efforts to bring back all those in captivity and other victims of kidnappings will be intensified.”
The president, according to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari at the meeting, commended the important roles played by religious bodies in the last four years of his administration and pledged to continue to support several programmes of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), meant to promote peace, tolerance, unity and harmony in the country.
Adesina also said CAN in its congratulatory message to the president on his re-election, prayed God to grant him ‘‘everything it takes to perform hundred times better than’’ he did in his first term, promising that the Christian body had the success of this administration at heart.
The statement added: “Rev Ayokunle welcomed the President’s pledge to run an inclusive government in a speech shortly after his re-election, noting that the gesture would give all in the country a sense of belonging.
“The leadership of the Christian body in Nigeria also called for ethnic and religious balance in the selection of leadership of the ninth National Assembly.
“CAN also appealed to the president to see himself as the father of the nation and demanded for respect for the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution.
“Against this background, CAN admonished the president to allow the National Assembly constitute its own leadership in a bid to promote stability and democracy, saying that will eliminate tension and suspicion.
“Sir, to ensure that this happens is to remove any apprehension and suspicion harbored towards the leadership of this country. We equally solicit that the principle of separation of power as it is enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be allowed to thrive as an intrinsic aspect of modern day democracy,” the CAN president was quoted by the president’s spokesman to have said.
While thanking the president over his efforts to put paid to bloodshed in the country, CAN also tasked him to ensure that security agents live up to their responsibilities, lamenting the unwarranted destruction of lives in Kaduna in recent times as well as the unprovoked violence by herdsmen.
“Additionally sir, while we are thanking you for all your efforts at putting an end to bloodshed in the nation, we urge you to task the security agents to be more alive to their responsibilities by putting an end to insurgency, ethnic violence, kidnapping and herdsmen’s atrocities prevalent in our nation.
“Today, the Northwest of Nigeria which used to be peaceful is also witnessing violent activities. The unnecessary killings in Kaduna and the detention of some leaders of Ajara Chiefdom in Kaduna State since January should be addressed without delay to douse all tensions. All efforts today by all of us should be geared towards forgiving one another and reconciling with one another,” Ayokunle submitted.