Insecurity: Inter-Faith group appeals to CAN, others to see President Buhari as leader for all

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The National Inter-Faith Religious Organizations for Peace (NIFROP) has urged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other religious bodies in the country to embrace President Muhammadu Buhari as a leader for all. 

According to the foremost interfaith-faith group, the president has never demonstrated bias against Christians, Muslims or any other religious sect in the country. 

This unshakable faith in the unity of Nigeria, the group reckoned, was visible at the last polls in 2019, in which Nigerians across religious and ethnic lines massively voted for the president. 

NIFROP’s remarks trails CAN’s insinuation that President Buhari’s prolonged silence on Sheikh Ahmad Gumi’s alleged profiling of military operatives is tantamount to endorsement of the Islamic cleric. 

However, speaking at a press conference on Friday, in Abuja, through its grand patron, Bishop Julius Idiwe, NIFROP warned the Christian body not to drag the president into bigotry or partisanship. 

Bishop Idiwe noted that CAN’s unwarranted outburst and vituperation on the presidency, with intent to incite the public, negates the core norms and values of all religions. 

The inter-faith group insisted that President Buhari has always taken an impartial stand on national issues and doesn’t jump into every statement in the public domain. 

Idiwe recalled how Rev Fr. Ejike Mbaka and other Christian preachers in the past launched scathing attacks on the president without any reprimand whatsoever.

While Gumi has insistently canvassed for compensation and amnesty for the bandits, the respected Christian cleric said President Buhari has rejected his proposal. 

He, therefore, advised CAN to promote peaceful co-existence, unity, togetherness and the indivisibility of Nigeria. 

Read the full statement below:

The leadership of the NationalInter-Faith Religious Organizations for Peace ( NIFROP) is compelled to address a component of us, the  Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over comments attributed to an Islamic cleric, Shiek Ahmad Gumi on his alleged negative profiling of non-Muslim soldiers fighting insecurities in the frontlines, in  President Muhammadu  Buhari was unfairly dragged into a religious campaign. We find the contents of CAN’s statement untrue and a misrepresentation of reality concerning the Buhari Presidency.

NIFROP has found the public utterances and outbursts of CAN, a major Christian body in Nigeria against the Government, office and person of President Buhari extremely misdirected and misleading. And we believe, it is because of a lack of basic knowledge of the operations or mindset of this  Presidency. 

NIFROP is unexcited the more by the consistent focus by CAN, as exemplified even in the current public statement to align the personality or the Buhari  Presidency to the country’s regressive national faultlines of ethnicity, religion and regionalism, even when there is enough evidence against such sermonized inclinations on the President. We again wish to bring to the notice of CAN’s leadership that President Buhari has consistently over the years, clearly resisted a romance with such biases.   

It is the conviction of NIFROP that the sacred obligation of religious leaders in the country is to seek peace as also amplified by the Holy Scriptures. It is completely unreasonable to stoke troubles in the land in the magnitude that would cause the widespread crisis. It is our divine duty as clerics to promote peaceful co-existence, unity, togetherness and the indivisibility of Nigerians and Nigeria. 

Therefore, CAN’s unwarranted outburst and vituperations on the Presidency, intent on public incitement of the people negates these core norms and values of all religions, as we collectively seek for a unified nation. It is a task President Buhari has glaringly and religiously committed his heart to it as leader of this nation. 

President Buhari has never demonstrated through words o  actions any discrimination against neither Christian nor Muslims or preference for a particular religious sect in this country. He has not shown any favouritism to any section of this country against another based on religion or ethnicity. Both Christian and Muslim clerics have variously and directly attacked his Presidency, several times in the past; but he has never contemplated or condescended to a clampdown on them using state power for their expressed opinions.    

It may interest CAN and their leaders to recall the several damaging prophecies of the SpiritualDirectorr of the Adoration Ministry,  Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbak against the Government and person of President Buhari, including his 2018 New Year eve prophesy, predicting President Buhari’s defeat in the 2019 presidential elections. 

CAN should also remember Fr. Mbaka’s prophecy on December 31, 2020, Crossover Night tagged, ‘Cornucopia of New Miracles from God,” in which he accused President Buhari of politicising the conditions of Nigerian youths. And at another instance, Fr. Mbaka declared that “God is angry with Buhari”, a statement, he later denied after it went viral on social media. But the Presidency never harassed him.

In CAN’s latest statement, it also referenced the most recent open epistle to Nigerians by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr. Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah in which he severely threw darts at President Buhari and his Government in an obviously inciting and demeaning manner. It angered some Muslim youths who reacted to it by issuing a quit notice to  Fr. Kukah to vacate the North or face the consequences.

But CAN deliberately or hypocritically fail to remember or mention that the Presidency instantly condemned and countered the threats of the Muslim youths on Kukah through a public statement. It also took actions to secure his life from any possible physical assault on him. President Buhari warned the enraged and incensed Muslim youths never to contemplate an attack on the Catholic Priest or dare take laws into their hands or else, the consequences would be severe on the perpetrators.  

President Buhari has repeatedly hollered publicly and even in his private conversations with eminent Nigerians his unshakeable faith in the oneness of Nigeria. He believes in the doctrine of equity, fairness and justice. That’s why even in 2019,  both Christian and Muslim dominated states in Nigeria competitively and massively voted for his reelection. It is a testimony to his demonstrated credentials as the father of the nation and all Nigerians irrespective of religious or ethnic affinities.   

And the neutral character of President Buhari has reflected even in the distribution of his appointments and capital projects throughout Nigeria. Every section of the country has an imprint of his administration. CAN’s statement is, therefore, unfortunate and condemnable, to say the least. 

Therefore, it is instructive to advise CAN and other religious bigots to necessarily separate the Buhari Presidency from false and imposed religious or ethnic biases. 

To consciously and provocatively 

align Mr. president with religion or ethnicity over fighting insecurities in the country,  profusely as exhibited by CAN is antithetical to all alternatives of panaceas to the crisis of insecurity in the country.  CAN and their co-travellers must learn to embrace the President and his views as leader of Nigeria and not as a  Fulani, Hausa or a Muslim.

Therefore,  it defeats every sane logic and wisdom on CAN’s expectations of the leader of a complex nation like Nigeria to start chasing every statement in public space. For CAN to misconstrue the Presidency’s silence over Shiek Gumi’s utterances as an endorsement of it and a lack of commitment to fighting armed banditry or terrorism in the county is a farce that only exists in the warped imaginations of these CAN leaders.

And there are several examples to buttress this assertion. Whilst Shiek Gumi has insistently canvassed fo compensation and amnesty for the bandits, President Buhari has rejected his proposal. Mr President is clear and loud that there will be no amnesty for bandits or criminals, as his administration is poised to deal with them appropriately. 

Mr. President’s recent directive to security operatives to shoot anybody bearing AK-47 and other sophisticated weapons anywhere in the country is one of the series of fresh actions to contain insecurities in the country. Therefore, CAN have no sound basis to castigate or malign Mr President on his result-oriented battles with insecurities in the last five years. 

Thank you.