‘Pick a Christian as Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives” CAN appeals to incoming National Assembly members

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked members of the incoming 9th National Assembly to elect a Christian as the Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives to reflect religious balance.

The Christian body made the appeal in a statement released by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to Reverend (Dr.) Samson Ayokunle, the CAN President, today April 1st.

The statement reads

“As you prepare for your inauguration, CAN urges you to balance the appointments of your principal officers across religious divides to avoid domination and marginalisation 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.

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 composition of the government of a state, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the federation.” he said