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2023: CAN Presents Its Demands To APC Presidential Candidate, Bola Tinubu



The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), on Wednesday met with the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu in Abuja.

The President of CAN, Daniel Ukoh during the interactive session with Tinubu presented him with a charter of demands.

Okoh in his statement titled, ‘CAN Proposal for Nigeria Post-2023,’ acknowledged that the restructuring of the country required a constitutional amendment.

The CAN President further stated that the next president of Nigeria could use Executive Order to effect some structural changes in the country.

Okoh in his demands placed before Tinubu called for a fully decentralised police authority, unambiguous religious neutrality of the Nigerian state, enforcement of fundamental rights of all Nigerians, including economic and social rights as well as equitable and enforceable sharing of executive positions.

The CAN leadership also demanded ethnic and religious representation in the military and other security agencies, self-determination for all Nigerian people, ranching, education and free healthcare for all Nigerians, a ban on open grazing and local control of the economy, including waters, rivers, and forests.

According to Okoh, the Nigerian constitution failed to provide an order for a society with multiple religious beliefs and practices, adding that this failure had thrown Nigeria into perennial religious conflicts.

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He said, “The constitution in Section 10 states that Nigeria and any state in Nigeria will not have a state religion. This provision is reinforced by Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution which guarantees to every Nigerian the freedom of religion which includes the right to hold, change and propagate his religion.

‘’The prohibition against having a state religion is not only that the country or part of it will not make an official declaration that no one else should belong to another religion. No. it is more than that.

‘’It includes the government of the federation or the state acting in any manner that confers one advantage or disability to one religion and not the other.

‘’This means that when governors of states in northern Nigeria implement a policy of not granting the statutory right of occupancy to churches over landed property they are violating Sections 10 and 38 of the Constitution.

“It means that when a government spends public money to hire teachers for Islamic schools and not for Christian schools, it violates Sections 10 and 38 of the Constitution and vice versa. This position was brought out clearly by the Court of Appeal in the case of Adamu v. Bauchi State Government.

‘’Anyone who soberly considers the actions of the previous and current Nigerian government over religion will realise that those actions proclaim a state religion.

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‘’It is this flagrant violation of our common citizenship through the co-mingling of religion and politics that is the main cause of religious conflict in Nigeria, terrorism, and insecurity. We cannot make progress as a nation if we do not behave like other multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation-states that remove religion from politics.’’

He called on whoever takes over from President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure a balance between Christians and Muslims.

Okoh said so that the past practice of reckless violation of the rights of one religion or the other will not reoccur.

He argued further, “We have to be a religiously neutral state, not a religious state. We must have a constitution that is focused on democratic citizenship where the government pays no attention to any private identity apart from citizenship.

‘’This transition to a modern, democratic, secular state from a neo-feudal, the theocratic state requires both constitutional and administrative reforms.

‘’It requires that the next Nigerian President carefully constitutes his policy and programme to ensure a good balance between Christians and Muslims so that the past practice of reckless violation of the rights of one religion or the other will not reoccur. That is the minimum requirement of saving Nigeria.’’

He lamented that Nigeria which is founded on justice and equity has not been realised, adding that the country is a poor and conflict-ridden country with neither justice nor equity.

“Why did our vision fail? Nigeria failed because of incoherence between the vision of justice, prosperity and unity in diversity, and its institutions and practices of politics and economy.

“In place of inclusion, Nigeria instituted and entrenched the politics of exclusion; in place of protection of fundamental rights, Nigeria embraced violations of the rights of its peoples; in place of justice for all, Nigeria practised privilege for the few; and in place of secular, democratic governance, Nigeria promoted theocratic, neo-Feudal governance,’’ he maintained.

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