The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the umbrella body of Islamic organizations in Nigeria, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) have drawn a battle line over the composition of the delegates at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja.
CAN is infuriated by the claim of JNL, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III that the process of selecting delegates to the conference was not done with fair representation, saying it would affect the credibility of its outcome.
The Christian body has, therefore, threatened to boycott the 2016 population census and subsequent exercises if there is no provision for religion.
General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake who issued the threat in a statement in Abuja, said the inclusion of religion would correct certain negative impressions about the rivalry on which religion has more adherents than the others in the country.
The JNL had through its Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar, stated that, “Christians, who by all acceptable records are not more than 40 percent of the country’s population ironically constitutes 62 percent of the total delegates”.
But Asake described the claim as an “unprovoked defamation of Nigerian Christians”.
He said “CAN may need to remind JNI o the argument and refusal of Muslims to include religion as an item in the last census in Nigeria. We appeal to JNI not to use religion as a basis for their reservations about the National Conference. We believe the conference will do Nigeria a lot of good.
“Meanwhile, the JNI should come out with the figures that make the Muslim population to be more than that of Christians as we in CAN will boycott future census in Nigeria beginning with the 2016 exercise if they do not include religion enough is enough!”
While describing the JNI assertion as disappointing, especially coming from a person of Khalid’s standing in educational attainment, Asake said assuming or suggesting, as it were, that Muslims are more than Christians in Nigeria as the basis for argument when no census anchored on religion has been carried out was “logically faulty”.
“When and how are these figures by the international agencies arrived at? Which of the international agencies census figures that Nigerians do not have? Has there been any census by international agencies in Nigeria? To put forward a suggestion or theories like this by Khalid, for others to consider should have been well thought out. N this case, the JNI Secretary General goofed, having cut out insensible arguments and thoughts.