The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged leaders of the National Assembly to ensure that the newly appointed principal officers into the two legislative chambers reflect religious balance.
The CAN president, Reverend Samson Ayokunle made this known in a statement issued on Monday in Abuja.
Ayokunle stated that the association’s request became necessary as a result of the existence of a Muslim president as head of the executive arm of government and another Muslim as acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Guardian Reports.
The Christian body appealed to incoming legislators to appoint a Christian as Senate President or Speaker in a bid to address “the religious dichotomy.”
The statement read, “As you prepare for your inauguration, CAN urges you to balance the appointments of your principal officers across religious divides to avoid domination and marginalization of any kind in the interest of equity, justice, and fair play as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“We, from the Christian Association of Nigeria, recognize the importance of the National Assembly to the stability and growth of our polity. It is in this regard that we call for ethnic and religious balance with depth in picking the leadership of that great institution of democracy. To ensure that this happens is to remove any apprehension and suspicion harbored towards the leadership of this country.” Ayokunle said.
Ayokunle stated that the group is particularly interested in the appointment into the offices of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker, “Although both the Senate and the House of Representatives have several principal officers, our focus here are the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. As it has been the practice since 1999, whenever the Senate President is a Christian, the Speaker of the House has always been a Muslim and vice- versa. And the same thing happens to their deputies.
“Our quest becomes imperative due to the existing order in the two other arms of the government. Today, both the President and the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria are Muslims and our appeal is to let either the Senate President or the Speaker be a Christian to address the religious dichotomy. This will give all Nigerians a sense of belonging irrespective of their religious affiliations.
“And a critical study of Chapter 14 (13 and 14) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) underscores this truth. The composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few state or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.” The Statement read.
The association urged the Ninth National Assembly members to look into the issues of religion and the North and South dichotomies so that equity, justice and fair play can be achieved, assuring lawmakers of their prayers as laws for peace, order and good government of the federation are formulated.
CAN called on the present administration to support their quest as there are Christians that are capable of handling these positions, rejoicing with the administration over its victory during the last presidential polls.