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RE: CAN REJECTS COMMITTEE COMPOSITION

Date: 23-04-2014

Our attention has been drawn to a misleading statement issued by Mr Sunny Oibe, who signed as the Director (National Issues) in the Secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). There is no truth whatsoever in the unfortunate alarm raised in the press statement which tends to give the impression of an attempt to undermine Christians in the National Conference.

In trying to whip up unnecessary sentiments, Oibe claimed that the Committee on Religion is made up of 12 Muslims and eight Christians. That is not correct. The Committee has 21 members – 11 Muslims and 10 Christians. Please see the list below.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2014
CONFERENCE MANAGEMENT SECRETARIAT

18. COMMITTEE ON RELIGION

S/No. DELEGATE
1. AJAKAYE, Bishop Felix Femi Christian
2. ALFA, Hajia Shetu Muslim
3. BAGOBIRI, Bishop Joseph D. Christian
4. DATTIJO, Hadija Dije Muslim
5. EKPE, Prof. Obini E. Muslim
6. EMMANUEL , Pastor Bosun Christian
7. ERINOSHO, Prof. Layi Muslim
8. HANGA, Mal. Muzzammil Sani Muslim
9. HARUNA, Prof. Andrew Christian
10. IKE, Monsignor Obiora Christian

11. IYOKE, Barr. Godswill Iyoha Christian
12. JIBRIL, Prof, Munzali Muslim
13. LEMU, Alh. Nuruddeen Muslim
14. GAMBARI, HRH Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu CFR Muslim
15. GUSAU, Aisha Aliyu Muslim
16. IBRAHIM, (Mrs) Fati Eunice Christian
17. ACHIMUGU, Barrister John A. Christian
18. OKPARAEKE, Dr (Mrs) Kate Christian
19. OBAJE, Dr. Jonathan Christian
20. OLOYEDE, Prof. Is-haq O. Muslim
21. OMOTI, Hajia Amina B. Muslim

It must be noted that delegates were asked to submit names of three committees they would prefer to serve, in order of preference. Seven Christians indicated Religion as their first choice, four as second and two as third choice. That brought the total number of Christians to 13. Three Muslims made Religion their first choice, seven made it their second choice and eight made it their third choice bringing the total number to 20.

However, some of those who had other committees as first and second choices were placed in the primary committees of choice leaving the Committee on Religion with a lesser number than was required to form a full Committee. It must also be noted that the official list of delegates showed that both Muslims and Christians have six representations each; which means that only 12 out of the 492 delegates are at the conference as Christian and Muslim leaders. The specification below shows faith-based delegates and the status of their preferences.

Muslim leaders Preferred choice of Committees
1. Alkali, Prof Muhammad Nur *Did not pick Religion at all
2. Oloyede, Prof Is-haq O. Religion 2nd choice Law, Judiciary 1st 
3. Omoti, Hajia Amina B. Religion 1st choice
4. Hanga, Mallam Muzzammil Sani Religion 3rd choice Law, judiciary 1st 
5. Lemu, Alhaji Nurudeen Religion 1st choice
6. Ekpe, Prof. Obini E. Religion 1st choice
Christian leaders Preferred choice of Committees
1. Bogobiri, Bishop Joseph D. Religion 1st choice
2. Haruna, Prof Andrew Religion 1st Choice
3. Achimugu, Elder Barrister John A. Religion 2nd choice Law, Judiciary 1st 
4. Bosun, Pastor Emmanuel Religion 1st choice
5. Okpareke, Dr (Mrs) Kate *Did not choose Religion at all
6. Iyoke, Barrister Godswill Iyoha Religion 1st choice

When the preferences, as submitted by the delegates, were collated by the Secretariat, the result was as follows:

First Choice Group Represented
1 Haruna, Prof. Andrew Christian leaders
2 Bogobiri, Bishop Joseph D. Christian leaders
3 Iyoke, Barrister Godswill Iyoha Christian leaders
4 Bosun, Pastor Emmanuel Christian leaders
5 Ajakaiye, Bishop Felix Ekiti State
6 Viko, Mrs Lydia J. Elder Statesman
7 Ike, Monsignor Obiora Enugu State
8 Lemu, Alhaji Nurudeen Muslim leaders
9 Ekpe, Prof Obini E. Muslim leaders
10 Omoti, Hajia Aminia B. Muslim leaders
Second Choice Group Represented
1. Yaro, Rt Hon Mohammed Ass. of Fmr Speakers 
2. Mamman, General A. B. Elder Statesman
3. Ogbole, Mr Dogara Mark Elder Statesman
4. Junaidu, Prof. Sambo Elder Statesman
5. Musa, Mrs Binta Ibrahim FGN 
6. Oloyede, Prof Is-haq O. Muslim leaders
7. Raji, Prof Ganiyu Oyo State
8. Ochefu, Prof Yakubu A. Professional bodies
9. Usuma, Hajiya Alina Women groups
10. Ezenwa, Mrs Ifeanyinwa Women groups
11. Achimugu, Elder Barrister John Christian leaders
Third Choice Group Represented
1. Iheme, Chief Uzoma Nwosu Ethnic Nationalities
2. Etiaba, Dame Virgy FGN
3. Hanga, Mallam Muzzammil Muslim leader
4. Jubril, Prof. Munzali National Academies
5. Erinosho, Prof Layi National Academies
6. Bala, Hajia Dije Niger State
7. Filani, Prof Titi Ogun State
8. Bello, Maryam Jumai Organised Labour

Because all the Committees must have the least required number of members, which was put at 24 (average), delegates with related credentials were moved from other loaded committees to Religion, but they protested and opted out. As at the last count, the Committee on Religion still had the least number of members (21), followed by the Committee on Citizenship, Immigration and Related Matters which has 22. In terms of preference, the Committee on Religion, as sensitive as CAN would want the public to perceive, was placed 18 out of 20.

Efforts were made to complete and balance the Committee on Religion but delegates would not want to serve in the Committee. It would therefore be mischievous for anybody or group to insinuate or accuse the Chairman or the leadership of the Conference of “working out a script to undermine the interest of Christians in the dialogue body”.

The chairmanship of Committees was shared equally between the North and the South; and those that were seen as contentious Committees are co-chaired by a delegate from the North and South. The two co-chairmen of the Committee on Religion could not have come from the North as CAN would have wished; and it would amount to peddling ignorance to think that a Christian from the South does not know what Christians in the North are facing, as Christendom is one body.

It is unfortunate that a body like CAN, if it indeed authorised the statement, would make such frivolous and unfounded allegation against the Chairman of the Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, to the effect that he picked Alhaji Nurudeen Lemu as the Co-Chairman of the Committee, because they are from the same state. The Chairman had excused himself from selecting the leadership of any committee and did not recommend Alhaji Lemu. 

During deliberations at the plenary sessions, particularly during the discussion of the President’s speech, Lemu received accolades for his insightful contributions. His intellectual insight and moderate views on religion naturally recommended him for selection unanimously, and had nothing to do with the preference of any principal officer of the Conference.

Although Oibe indicated that CAN does not have a problem with Bishop Ajakaiye as Chairman, but it would have preferred a Christian from the North; the issue may well be that Bishop Ajakaye is a Catholic Bishop and thus may have issues with CAN. Not being active in CAN does not make Bishop Ajakaye a lesser Christian.

It is unbecoming of a religious body to peddle falsehood in a bid to prove a non-existent point. Dr Jonathan Obaje is not on holiday. He applied to the Secretariat (not to the Chairman) indicating that he would be traveling briefly to Japan to keep an appointment which he had fixed early this year before his nomination to the Conference. He is one of the Diaspora delegates and lives in Singapore. Dr Obaje would not be the first to do so, and certainly not the last. Permission granted Dr Obaje by the Secretariat has nothing to do with his membership of the Committee on religion.

Akpandem James
Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications
NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2014
CONFERENCE MANAGEMENT SECRETARIAT

NB: Prof Layi Erinosho, number 7 in the list, is actually a Christian. Thus there are 11 Christians in the committee.