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Biafrans not terrorists, but want to be heard — CAN President

Unfair appointments, resource allocation breed crises — Sultan

By Dapo Akinrefon & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA — Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of Nigeria Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday warned against any injustice in appointments and allocation of resources in the country, saying such actions are capable of breeding crisis and disunity in the society.

This is even as President of Christian Association of Nigerian, CAN, Reverend Sampson Ayokunle, said marginalization is one major issue forcing some people of the Eastern extraction, under the aegis of Biafra, to seek separation from the Nigerian federation and asked the government to address their grievances.

He also insisted that Biafrans are not terrorists but people who want to be heard over marginalization they were facing.

The declarations of the Sultan and the CAN leader drew support from Yoruba socio-cultural and political organization, Afenifere, and Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, who noted that the duo captured in essence what is currently going on in the country

The Sultan and the CAN President spoke in their goodwill messages delivered at the opening ceremony of a Collaborative Interfaith Peace and Security Capacity Building Workshop, organized by the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, NARC, in collaboration with Inter-Religious Peace Initiative in Abuja.

Let there be justice, equitable resources distribution

Represented by the Executive Secretary of Abuja National Mosque, Alhaji Ibrahim Jega, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III said inclusive governance from leaderships at all levels alone is capable of ending the many problems facing the country at the moment, and tasked those at the helm of affairs to rise and do the needful.

He tasked leadership at all levels to be equitable, fair and just to every member of the society in the distribution of amenities and resources, irrespective of the political, religious and tribal inclinations of members of the society.

“When it comes to issue of dispensation of justice and equitable distribution of resources, that should be done without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

“You are not there yourself as a leader and because you have some encounters with a group of people, either a person or a group of persons in a particular area, you should not hold on to it so as not to extend justice to them.

“Allah says “do not allow your hatred of a particular group of people to make you decide not to extend justice to them. Whatever happens, you must extend the spirit of justice to them all without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

“This issue of justice goes down to whatever decision you are going to take, whether it’s against you or against your parents or against your own children or against your other relations, let alone saying you will not extend justice because you know somebody or because he is from your town. Justice must be based on fair and equitable distribution of assets to all,” Sultan Abubakar said.

Corruption behind insecurity, poor education
He also noted that corruption was the reason behind the nation’s weak security system and the threats of insurgency, coupled with lack of teaching materials in schools and the dilapidated state of the nation’s health care system.

While noting that religious leaders are in support of the current administration’s fight against corruption, the Sultan said extremism and violence are not part of Islam, stating that anyone that kills a fellow citizen in the name of any religion should be treated as a criminal.

The Sultan condemned the killings by any group as un-Islamic, noting that herdsmen clashes with local farmers in some states should, therefore, not be taken as having religious cover.

He lauded the efforts of the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, NARC, for coming up with the workshop, saying it would assist in fostering peace building and engender understanding among the people, and added that the country needs peace and unity to achieve even development and progress.

Biafrans not terrorists, but want to be heard — CAN President
On his part, President of CAN, represented by Apostle Nyeneime Andy, General Overseer of Holy Ghost Ambassadors Church, said: “The Biafra people are going through a lot, not because they want to be violent, but because they want to be heard.

“One of the things they want to tell Nigerians is that the Biafrans are not a terrorist group. The people want to talk to Nigerians about a general issue that they do not want to be marginalized.

“ CAN is not in support of what Biafra agitators are doing, CAN is also not in support of killing and disobedience. Just like herdsmen, so many people take action just on their own without the consent of the state.

“Today, we are coming together to talk about how Nigeria could be better because there’s no other way for Nigeria to be better than to talk about unity.

‘Why Army is holding workshop’
Also speaking, the Acting Director-General of NARC, Brigadier-General Okechukwu Ugo, said the workshop was necessitated by the need to expose participants to the positive roles religion could play in peace building and encourage the culture of religious tolerance, mutual understanding and trust among the people.

He expressed regret that the “continued manipulation of Nigeria’s religious diversity has further polarized the nation, endangering her unity, stability and development.

‘’This situation has also increased the potential of sectarian violence and escalation of interfaith tensions, thereby making religion one of Nigeria’s critical fault-lines.

“Sustainable response to religion as a trigger of violent conflicts must go beyond military engagement. It must encompass interfaith dialogues, religious education, sensitization and security awareness targeting youths who have always been used as catalyst in ethno-religious violence.”

It’s a timely worry —Afenifere
Reacting to the remarks, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said the Sultan’s declaration was a timely worry.

Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, called on the President to create a balance in the polity.

He said: “I think it is a timely worry from the Sultan and it resonates with complaints about appointments and allocation of resources. This is a multi-ethnic country but when we begin to treat other sections of the country as if they do not matter or exist, it is not healthy for the unity of the country.

“The President must watch out for such and create a balance. He cannot count chief executive officers as one from a section of the country and count a messenger as one for another section of the country and now say he has appointed one from each section of the country. He must ensure there is balance because there are qualified people for all positions in the land.”

Sultan stating the obvious —Mohammed
Also, Second Republic politician, Dr Junaid Mohammed, threw his weight behind the Sultan, saying “he is stating the obvious. If he says the appointments are lopsided, then, he is stating the obvious.”

We’ve taken a turn for the worse —Osuntokun
Also reacting, Mr Akin Osuntokun, Political Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the Sultan’s observation shows the country has taken a turn for the worse.

Osuntokun said: “If nepotism and lopsided appointments and patronage have gotten to a stage where the Sultan feels compelled to publicly take issues within this government, then Nigeria has truly taken a turn for the worse. It is a conspicuous indication that the salvation and redemption of Nigeria is clearly beyond the kind of prevailing constitutional structure and the capacity of the political leadership.
We have reiterated the point now and again that the operating constitution is doomed to this kind of dysfunction. It is inherently structured against efficiency, equity and productivity.”

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