Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the apex umbrella bodies of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, have been warned to, henceforth, stop meddling in the political affairs of the country or face public disgrace.
A group, National Democratic Front (NDF), gave the warning to the religious organsations, saying it was appalled by activities of the groups as “they continue to rapidly evolve into political parties.”
Its secretary-general, Dr Bolaji Abdulkadir, who gave the warning on Monday at a press conference, said “the trend is a dangerous slide into chaos, one that must be avoided at any cost.”
Abdulkadir said CAN, NSCIA and other groups had become cheerleaders for political parties in their own interest.
The group also frowned on the failure of both religious bodies to contribute meaningfully to addressing the security challenges posed by terrorism, separatist agitations and militancy in the country.
He said: “In the period leading to the general elections the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) became fully partisan. It started by leaning towards the endorsement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. To drive home the point, many Christian clergy were to later desecrate their altars by going full blown partisan and presented their campaign for PDP as Sunday sermons.
“If CAN’s indiscretion is cringe worthy, the decision of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to join its counterpart in the mud is beyond describable. NSCIA castigated CAN in a way that is capable of triggering a tit-for-tat, which could in the long run escalate into physical face-offs. It is a clear case of two wrongs not making a right.
“Ironically, in our view, CAN, NSCIA and other groups that have become cheerleaders for political parties are not even doing so in order for reputable persons to emerge.”
Continuing, he said: “What we further find confounding is that neither CAN nor NSCIA has productively intervened in areas where they are needed. If we take the scourge of kidnap for ransom, for instance, perpetrators are often adherents of Christianity or Islam yet these umbrella religious organisations have not been proactive enough to leverage on their spiritual influence to address the problem and preach against it. They have also failed to contribute meaningfully to addressing the security challenge posed by terrorism; separatist agitations and militancy as it appear they have elected to ignore these issues because contributing to their eradication will not translate into financial gains for them.
“The most glaring area of failure on the part of both organisations is their open endorsement of corruption and theft of public funds. Politicians in Nigeria identify either as Christians or Muslims and it is highly unfashionable for those seeking elective offices to identify as skeptics, agnostics or atheists.
“It is our earnest expectation that both religious organisations will retrace their steps and return to the founding ideals that bought them into existence. They can continue to contribute to the polity by leveraging on their position to discourage the faithful of the religions they represent from engaging in corruption, extremism, terrorism and other acts that are inimical to the wellbeing of Nigeria. They should stay off partisan politics, focus on governance and involve themselves more in community development and service to humanity.
“Once they return to doing this, CAN and NSCIA would again find themselves as reputable organisations whose words would be taking as final when they weigh in on national issues.”