1st February, 2018 PRESS RELEASE: CAN’S DENIAL OF RELIGIONISATION OF POLITICS: WE ARE NOT CONVINCED

 The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday denied instigating Christians to vote for Christians only in the 2019 general elections. The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) had alleged on Tuesday, 30th January, 2018 that the Christian umbrella body was instigating Christians against voting for Muslim politicians. 
We are not convinced by CAN’s denial though its denial did not surprise us.

It is only natural. Yet in spite of the denial, Nigerians know that CAN’s body language speaks volumes. Its hate speeches are legend. Its bitter expressions underline its frustration. CAN is desperate to install a Christian president in Nigeria. Can CAN deny calling on all churches to pray for Christian victory in the wake of the Benue killings? 
Nigerian churches were told to spend the whole of Sunday January 7, 2019 praying for victory for Christians. The directive was issued by CAN in its January 5 press statement. That directive naturally caught our attention and we monitored the manner the prayers were offered in some Nigerian cities. We heard more curses than prayers in some noisy churches. While some prayed for victory for Christians, most churches rained abuses, invectives and curses on the Buhari administration. It was more of hysteria than the atmosphere of serenity required in places of worship. CAN has stirred up emotions in Nigerian churches. Can CAN also deny that it has openly directed Christians all over the country to go into politics? 
CAN openly gave that instruction on 19th January, 2018. What assurance do we have that there was no hidden message in that directive? What assurance do we have that there were no other secret messages sent round after the public directive? Who is a fool? If religion is a private affair, why is CAN always interfering in the privacies of its followers. Why must they be directed in a matter unrelated to religion? Religion is a private matter when it pleases CAN but it is a public affair when it suits the umbrella Christian body. As far as CAN is concerned, Christians are free to organize themselves publicly but Muslims must never be allowed to come together publicly to organize their affairs. 
Such double standard is, to say the least, disgusting. Can CAN also disown a certain John B. Damuna who calls himself the Assistant Coordinator of the Christian Youth Organization of Nigeria Northern chapter? John Damuna in a document in our possession warns Christians that it would be a disaster if a Christian did not emerge president in 2019. He claims to be carrying out the directive of CAN. We are going to be silent about what he said concerning herdsmen and almajiris in the same document so that we do not stir another crisis. CAN should stop deceiving us. It is more honourable to admit one’s actions and statements. It is no longer religion when we say one thing and pretend we never did. Let us leave such antics to politicians. The alternative is to derobe and don the toga of politics. The last time we checked, ex-Presidents Mathew Okikiola Obasanjo and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan were still Christians.
 If it is true that Obasanjo ruled Nigeria for eight good years (1999 – 2007) and former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was in power for six years (2010 – 2015), CAN cannot rationalize its present craving for a Christian president. On what ground? Of the nineteen (19) years of civil rule which began in 1999, Muslims have only been in power for five (5) years while Christians have ruled for fourteen (14) years. So what is the rush all about? Turn by turn, remember? As a last shot, we remind churches and mosques to mind their language as we march towards 2019. 
Our places of worship are filled up with leaders and members of all the political parties. We may be shooting ourselves in the foot if we use our places of worship to demarket any political party or any political leader. Religious leaders should rein in their firebrand activists to avoid creating unnecessary tension. We need peace now more than before.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,

Director,

Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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