Tuesday, 22 March 2016

NATIONAL CHRISTIAN ELDERS FORUM (NCEF) - A PRESS RELEASE

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CONFLICT OF IDEOLOGIES AS THE GREATEST OBSTACLE TO PEACE, UNITY AND DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,

A few weeks ago, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) issued a statement titled THE NEED TO PRESERVE THE PEACE AND UNITY OF NIGERIA. Of concern to the Christian Elders is the deteriorating state of national security, the free fall state of the economy, the inflammation of religious tension through the misappropriation of state powers, a worrisome foreign policy that is evidently skewed in favor of Islamization, as well as the increasing impunity of the Fulani herdsmen, amongst many other issues.

The National Christian Elders Forum was established by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to make statements in defense of Christianity in Nigeria, as well as promote peace and unity among Christians and Nigerians, as a whole. The NCEF is made up of Christian Elders from the six geo-political zones in the country.
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4. ISSUES OF CONCERN
In the build up to the 2015 elections, majority of Nigerians expressed great hope that there would be CHANGE in the nation. However, ten months after the new government was sworn into office, credible apprehension can be expressed given the policy direction of the new administration. We hope that the buildup to these policies do not result in full blown Sharia which President Muhammadu Buhari had promised Muslims in Nigeria.
A number of worrisome issues readily come to mind:
a)      The apparent disregard for the Constitution, by Mr. President in many instances. For example, N900 billion was released in bailout package for states without Appropriation, the government was run for five months without a Cabinet, international commitment are being made without recourse to the National Assembly. All these are acts violating the Constitution.
b)     Including Nigeria in the Saudi Arabia Military Coalition of “Muslim/Arab” nations would appear that the Foreign Policy thrust of the present administration is to make Nigeria a satellite state of Saudi Arabia. The strengthening of the nation’s democracy and security for all should remain the greatest priority of Government. This we see to have been negated by the President’s fiat/unilateral decision to enlist Nigeria in the 34 nations Muslim/Arab coalition. Given the emotive and sensitive nature of this unilateral Executive decision, it should have been handled by Mr. President in line with our democratic culture through popular discussion and participation by the citizenry, or at the very least, through the National Assembly.
c)      Attempt to fund deficit in the 2016 Budget through issuance of Sukkuk loan which is a “Sharia compliant loan.” Nigeria is not a Sharia compliant nation.
d)     The consideration of establishing “free visa” arrangement with Islamic D8 nations. These countries are: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, and of course, Nigeria.
e)      The apparent Islamization of key security positions in the country.
f)       The apparent disdain and contempt of Mr. President for Christians in Nigeria as demonstrated during his interview on Al – Jazeera on the objection of Christians to Nigeria’s involvement in the Saudi led Military Coalition to fight ISIS.

We wish to remind Mr. President that he was brought to power through the votes of Nigerians, Christians inclusive. Mr. President should kindly remember that the over 50% non-Muslims in Nigeria did not vote for the nation to transmute into a Sharia compliant nation. Mr. President assured Nigerians that he is “a convert” to democracy but we are disturbed by the direction of his administration.
We are aware that there are presently Islamists in Government prepared to execute the Islamization Agenda. Any nation in which Islamists believe that they are sufficiently strong to exercise influence rarely experience peaceful cohabitation amongst the divergent groups within it. This is the current situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the Sudan. Islamism thrives on injustice, inequality and unfairness. We urge Nigerians to remain circumspect so that the Islamists do not drag the nation down the path of destruction.
5. KADUNA STATE RELIGIOUS BILL
We wish to express tremendous shock at the proposed Kaduna State Religious Bill. The proposed Bill contravenes Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution. We should remind the Government of Kaduna State that religion is personal and no one has the right to legislate on how individuals worship. We call on the Kaduna State Governor to retrace his steps from this ill-advised venture.
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