Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged the newly-elected members of the National Assembly to ensure that religious balance is reflected in the leadership of the two legislative chambers.
The Christian body said that of particular interest are the offices of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker, stressing that since both the president and the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) are Muslims, either the Senate President or the Speaker should be a Christian to address the religious dichotomy.
In a statement issued yesterday on behalf of the CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, by his Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the association said there is need to balance the appointment of principal officers across religious divides to avoid domination and marginalisation of any kind, in the interest of equity, justice, and fair play as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
It said: “As you prepare for your inauguration, CAN urges you to balance the appointments of your principal officers across religious divides to avoid domination and marginalisation of any kind in the interest of equity, justice, and fair play as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“We, from CAN recognise the importance of the National Assembly to the stability and growth of our polity. It is in this regard that we call for ethnic and religious balance with depth in picking the leadership of that great institution of democracy.”
CAN said in order to remove any apprehension and suspicion harbored towards the leadership of the country, members of the National Assembly should endeavour to address both the religious and the North and South dichotomies in the interest of equity, justice and fair play.
It added, “Our quest becomes imperative due to the existing order in the two other arms of the government.
“Today, both the President and the acting CJN are Muslims and our appeal is to let either the Senate President or the Speaker be a Christian to address the religious dichotomy. This will give all Nigerians a sense of belonging irrespective of their religious affiliations.”
The Christian body further said that a critical study of Chapter 14 (13 sand 14) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) underscores the fact that the “composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.
CAN said in as much as it believed that merit should not be sacrificed in every appointment, there are Christians who are equally credible and capable of running the affairs of the National Assembly and other key positions in the government if given the opportunity.
“We assure our lawmakers of our prayers as they make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation.
“We also urge both the presidency and the leadership of the APC to support the position of the association in its quest to find an enduring peace, unity and development for our fatherland.
“Doing this will go a long way in fixing some of the problems confronting our country today that are rooted in religious, tribal suspicion, domination and marginalisation at every level of the government,” it said.