The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has berated the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for its demand for Senate Presidency or other leadership positions in the National Assembly.
The Deputy Secretary-General of the council, Prof. Salisu Shehu, in a statement Thursday wondered whether CAN still remains a religious body or a political party in a religious garb.
“The council is persuaded to believe the latter because of the association’s posture as the counterfoil for and opposition to everything Islam and Muslims in this country.
“We cannot also but wonder whether Islamophobia has indeed not replaced the more important responsibility of giving direction to millions of our compatriots who are law-abiding citizens of the Christian faith.
“Specifically, the statement issued by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji (Special Assistant Media and Communication to CAN President) on behalf of CAN is the last straw to break the camel’s back in the association’s ill-advised and ill-motivated interventions in the polity,” Shehu said.
He also wondered if CAN is suffering from selective amnesia or is it just obsessed with deception.
He wondered where CAN was between 2009 and 2011 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Justice Aloyious Katsina-Alu the Chief Justice, Senator David Mark, Senate President and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President.
“Was there religious balance in 2007 when David Mark was elected Senate President and Patricia Etteh was elected Speaker? Was there no 1999 Constitution at that time?
“Even prior to 1999, the two arms of the National Assembly were headed by Christians. For instance, while between 1979 and 1983, the Senate was headed by Joseph Wayas and the House of Representatives by Ume-Ezeoke, from October to December, 1983, Joseph Wayas and Benjamin Chaha were leading the respective chambers. Furthermore, in the aborted Third Republic, the Senate Presidents were Iyocha Ayu and Ameh Ebute while the Speaker was Hon. Anakwe.
“Meanwhile, the NSCIA welcomes with pleasure the fact that CAN has finally agreed that the correct interpretation of the Section of the Constitution quoted in its letter to the National Assembly includes religious balancing.
“It is in this spirit that NSCIA calls on the Federal Government of Nigeria to conduct a holistic census of all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including higher institutions, to determine whether there is anywhere Muslims constitute up to 30 per cent of the staff strength and thereafter ensure compliance with the sections of the Constitution cited by CAN,” he said.
According to him, the CAN which also condemned Governor Nasir El-Rufai for choosing a Muslim as his running mate and claimed that he had committed a political hara-kiri, however chose to turn a blind eye to Ekiti, Benue, Edo, Ondo and Plateau States where Muslims have a substantial number of indigenes and yet are denied the deputy governorship slots.
He said, “civilian governors of Plateau State, for instance, prior to 1999, had Muslims as their deputies but since the advent of the Fourth Republic, Muslims have not been considered for the position of deputy governor. Yet, the NSCIA has chosen not to dabble into such political issues but our silence is now being taken as stupidity by CAN.
“The sheer impudence of CAN leaders and their chronic insincerity led them to release a statement that the leadership of parastatals under the Ministry of Education was dominated by Muslims but were embarrassed when the statistics of the last 10 years was presented to them by NSCIA.”