National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) has viewed with much concern and apprehension, the issues currently unfolding in the country. The Christian Elders are saddened that once again, the nation is being driven to a needless and mindless conflict that if not well managed, could conflagrate into war, destruction, and threaten the cohesiveness of the Nigerian State.
The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) is a body composed of distinguished Christian Elders from the six geopolitical zones in the country. The Christian Elders are committed to the Unity, Peace and Progress of Nigeria.
Presently, a lot of provocative statements, actions and inactions are taking place in the country. The NCEF noted with concern the budding Constitutional crisis in the country, the threat of another major ethnic conflict occasioned by the Independent People of Biafra’s (IPOB) call for secession and the response of Arewa Northern Youths for the eviction of the Ibos from the North, the agitations for Fiscal Federalism and Resource Control, amongst many other regional agitations. Added to this potpourri of confusion are conflicting signals emanating from the Presidency and the Senate as well as the unrelenting attacks of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. The NCEF observes a Presidency that seems to be at war with itself and at conflict with the National Assembly. All these contentions are coming from those entrusted with leadership in the nation while the economy is stagnating, Nigerians are losing their jobs in millions while insecurity in forms of insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, as well as cyber crime continue to ravage the land. To add to the problems of Nigeria, the President has been on medical vacation for some time now. Nigeria seems to be going through its worst crisis since it became an independent nation.
While the NCEF joins all well meaning Nigerians to pray for the health of Mr President, it is appalled that the nation appears iller than the leader. Therefore, the Christian Elders urge that more prayers and intercession should be made to the Almighty God for Nigeria.
As distressing as the situation is, it would appear that many Nigerians are still unaware of the real issues at stake. The NCEF wants Nigerians to be alert and focus on the reality of what is actually occurring in Nigeria. The real problem with the country is that JIHAD has been launched in Nigeria and Islamists that have been interfering in the Governance of the country using “Taqiyya” (approved deception) as “Stealth/Civilization Jihad” and Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen as violent Jihad, are relentless in their pursuit of eradicating Democracy in Nigeria. The objective of the Islamists (Political Islam) is to supplant the Constitution of Nigeria with Sharia ideology as the source of legislation in the Nation. The conflict between Democracy as National Ideology and Sharia as a usurping ideology is responsible for the crisis unfolding in Nigeria. The nation is in the throes of Jihad.
The NCEF considers it imperative that in the interest of the over 389 Ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria and the over 180 million citizens that this Conflict should be resolved in favour of Democracy. As keen observers would have noticed there have, in the recent past, been deliberate violations of the Constitution and Rule of Law as well as judgments of Courts. These are not mistakes but deliberate and intentional actions to weaken the Constitution and strengthen Sharia as national ideology.
One key indicator of the tension between Democracy and Sharia is the conflicting signals emanating from the Presidency. The Buhari/Osinbajo Presidency is the result of a democratic process. The subtle attempts to undermine the office of the Acting President, as evidenced by an unguarded statement recently by a Government functionary, is an indication of a competing ideology which is conflicting with democracy.
Our founding fathers signed on in Nigeria as a democratic country in order to guarantee Justice, Equality and Fairness for all citizens. They did not sign on for a Sharia ideology that promotes discrimination, persecution, division and oppression on the basis of religious belief and sectional ethnic identity. This is not the dream of our founding fathers; neither is it our aspiration.
Therefore, the NCEF is calling on all Nigerians, at home and abroad, to join in the call for the SUPREMACY of the Nigerian Constitution. Every action of the present Administration that violates the Constitution, particularly Section 10, Section 38 (1) and Section 14 (3) which specifically relates to the principle of Federal Character in appointments should be reversed and all cases of injustice, inequality and unfairness in Government appointments should be redressed forthwith. Presently, almost every key position in Security and Education is held by Muslims from the North. This is a flagrant violation of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Meanwhile, the Security forces are unable to arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen while Boko Haram operates unabated. We demand compliance with the Constitution.
The NCEF is alarmed at the audacity and impunity of the Islamists in Nigeria to attempt forcefully transforming Nigeria from a Democratic Nation into an Islamic theocratic state. The NCEF wishes to alert Nigerians that all the sectional appointments in Security and Education are not mistakes but intentional designs to place Islamists only in strategic positions in Nigeria. This brazen attempt at Islamization of Nigeria has extended to Classes 1 – 9 in schools through the introduction of the Religion and National Values subject which denigrates Christianity and promotes Islam. The NCEF joins in the demand that CRK and IRK should revert to the original status as standalone subjects.
Nigerians should be ready to prevent a situation in which a group of people not voted for by the citizens wrest control of governance from duly elected government officials. The Buhari/Osinbajo Presidency is a joint ticket and the holders of the ticket must be equally respected, either as President or Acting President.
As a rider, Nigerians should sustain the clarion call for restructuring the nation for True Fiscal Federalism. The ongoing debate on restructuring is healthy and NCEF hopes that it would quickly resolve the choice between Regions or States as Federating Units. NCEF calls on all Nigerians, as equal stakeholders, not to relent in the demand for True Fiscal Federalism and ensure that the issue is resolved as quickly as possible.
The NCEF supports the demand of the South West Zone and other well meaning Nigerians for a new Constitution for Nigeria to replace the current 1999 Constitution which is plagued with a dual conflicting ideology. After 57 years of Independence, Nigerians want to live together in peace so that they can make progress. The NCEF appeals to the Islamists that want to take over Nigeria to leave Nigerians alone to run the Nation according to the dreams and aspirations of the founding fathers. Our Nation is a Democratic nation and it shall remain so.
In conclusion, the NCEF joins all well meaning Nigerians to pray for the health of Mr. President. And, having considered all the issues affecting the nation, recommends as follows:
- The Acting President should be allowed to perform his duties without any let or hindrance by any group whatsoever.
- The NCEF recommends that every structure and action set in motion in Nigeria to promote Jihad should be dismantled immediately.
- All the appointments by the Federal Government that violates the Federal Character Principle should be revisited and addressed.
- The security forces must ensure impartial and non-discriminatory performance of their duties. It is disturbing the alacrity with which the security forces and top Government officials responded to the attacks against the Fulani on the Mambilla Plateau, in Taraba State, while remaining insensitive to the serial attacks and killings by the same Fulani herdsmen across the nation. The NCEF recommends that action should be taken across board against insecurity in the nation. There should be neither favoritism nor partiality.
- The NCEF finds it disturbing that with the wide expanse of land available in the North, Government is sponsoring Grazing Reserve for Fulani herdsmen across the nation. Apart from the injustice of Government promoting one trade over and above other business interest groups in the country, the NCEF cannot understand the rationale behind the action of some State Governors who are willing to release the ancestral land of their people as Grazing Reserve. If Grazing Reserve is a must for the Fulani herdsmen, instead of ranching which is the international best practice, NCEF recommends that Sambisa Forest should be given to the Fulani herdsmen.
- The NCEF is persuaded that in the interest of all the ethnic nationalities and all citizens of Nigeria, the Dual Conflicting Ideology in the 1999 constitution (as amended) should be resolved through a new Constitution which will only have Liberal Democracy as the national ideology. NCEF joins all the citizens of this country who also affirm demand for a new Constitution.
- As the Nation prepares for Census in 2018, NCEF joins the clarion call of all well meaning Nigerians, for the inclusion of ethnicity and religion in the Census data. The NCEF also encourages all Nigerians to ensure they participate in the Census exercise.
- The Federal Government should take immediate steps to implement the Report of the 2014 National Conference.
- NCEF also joins all Nigerians to demand true Fiscal Federalism to promote development all across the Nation.
God bless Nigeria
For and on behalf of National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF)
Solomon Asemota, SAN