October 19, 2023

CAN, JNI disagree with Babachir for labelling APC Islamic party


By Omeiza Ajayi, Ibrahim Hassan Luminous Jannamike

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, yesterday, disagreed with former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Engr Babachir Lawal, for labeling ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, an Islamic party.

Lawal, who had on Tuesday said Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, won the 2023 presidential poll and not President Bola Tinubu of the APC, who he said came a distant third, continued his attacks on the party, yesterday.

Responding to the APC’s counter by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Felix Morka, that he was angry and attacking the party because President Tinubu did not choose him as running mate, Lawal restated his stance and added that APC was now led by Muslims who take decisions in mosques. Claiming that President Tinubu’s men were reaching out to him, he expressed sympathies for Morka and other APC leaders he described as ‘sycophantic, second class’ members.

Contacted on the issue yesterday, APC spokesman, Mr. Morka, said he had no reaction.

However, CAN denounced the practice of labeling political parties based on religious affiliations, asserting that such actions undermined inclusivity and respect for religious diversity in the country.

Also, the JNI challenged Lawal to prove how a national party with elected officials across the country had become an Islamic party.

CAN distances self from Babachir’s views

In an interview with Vanguard, a senior CAN official, who requested anonymity due to the national leadership’s resolution to remain apolitical, emphasized the impropriety of categorizing a political party ‘Islamic’ or representing any specific religious group.

Moreover, CAN said it didn’t endorse any political party or candidate, maintaining a stance of neutrality.

The Christian body, however, said it encouraged its members to make informed decisions based on their individual beliefs and values.

It called on political parties and politicians to focus on issues of national development, good governance, and the welfare of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations.

While reiterating that the views expressed by Lawal were his alone and should not be attributed to any Christian denomination, the CAN senior official emphasized the importance of respectful dialogue, tolerance, and unity among all Nigerians, irrespective of their political or religious inclinations.

According to him, these values are crucial for the progress and prosperity of the nation.
The official said: “Regarding Mr. Lawal’s statement, it is his personal opinion and does not reflect the official position of any church or Christian denomination. It is crucial to separate personal opinions from the official stance of any organization, including CAN.

“Furthermore, it is not appropriate to label a political party as ‘Islamic’ or any other religious denomination. Political parties are composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and beliefs, including members of different religious groups.

‘’It is essential to promote inclusivity and respect for religious diversity within the political sphere.

“CAN encourages political parties and candidates to focus on issues of national development, good governance, and the well-being of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations. We believe in a democratic process that upholds the principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability.”

He should explain what makes APC Islamic party – JNI

Also speaking, Malam Ibrahim Kufena, Secretary of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, Kaduna State chapter, said Lawal should have explained further how APC was an Islamic party. His words: “You should have asked him, what basis is APC an Islamic party? Imo, Ebonyi and other states where there is APC, are they Islamic states? Even in places like Kano, are they all doing APC?

“So, I don’t know what he is talking about. He should have explained further the basis on which he categorised APC as an Islamic party.”

Tinubu’s key allies reaching out to me – Babachir

However, Lawal in a statement yesterday, said some key allies of President Tinubu’s administration had reached out to him, following his statement on Tuesday that Obi won the last presidential election.

Lawal was reacting to a Tuesday night statement by the APC wherein its spokesman, Felix Morka, described him as incapable of rational thought.

The former SGF, who was at a time the National Vice Chairman, North-East, of the party, however, offered his sympathies to Morka, saying he was doing the job of a slave.

Describing APC as an Islamic party which takes decisions in mosques during prayers where Morka is not present, Lawal insisted that Obi won the last election, saying “the thief knows who stole the item.”

According to him, all that was now left for the party is a change of name, adding that even this may not take long since Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, its national chairman, and national secretary are Muslims.

He said the Deputy National Chairman North (who acts in the absence of the Chairman), National Organizing Secretary, National Legal Adviser, and three National Vice Chairmen and more, are Muslims.

The statement which was titled, ‘Political Discourse: The APC reaction and its castigation of my person’, read in part: “I woke up this morning to a very pathetic social media trending write-up apparently, a response to my article on the current political discourse by one Felix allegedly of the APC.

“I suspect he was assigned this role because it is in the nature of sycophants and people consigned to second-class status to be assigned roles that their masters are wary of taking on.

“Usually, the dirty, unsavoury jobs are contracted out to such. In the bible, a certain Felix (after which this Felix was probably named), was a freed slave who had a reputation of cruelty as the ruler of Judea in order to please his master, the emperor Claudius (of whose mother Felix was a slave).

“I really do sympathize with a Christian (or is he not?) who finds himself in an Islamic party and is desperate to please his masters and probably to be noticed when the next round of political appointments come.

“When we founded APC way back in 2013/2014, we envisaged it will be a national party that will carry along all the different socio-political and religious tendencies of the nation. In those days, we were careful not to sideline any of the religions or tribes of the country in the composition of the membership and leadership of the party. We wanted a party that will embrace all Nigerians. It was this that informed the principle that both the National Chairman and Secretary will not be of the same religion, tribe or region.

“Sadly, APC has now transited into an Islamic Party of Nigeria. All the members of the NWC from the North and some from the South are Muslims. They campaigned on an Islamization platform and are striving hard to run the government as such but for the resistance of the other religions.

“All that is now left for the party is a change of name, but even this may not take long since it already has the Kadmul Islam as its National Chairman and a Muslim as its National Secretary. The Deputy National Chairman North (who acts in the absence of the Chairman), the National Organizing Secretary, National Legal Adviser, three National Vice Chairmen and more, are Muslims. Good for them.

“Talking of electoral value, both the national chairman and the national secretary just dramatically lost in the May election. I suspect Mallam Felix didn’t do well in his own constituency either. ‘’It is based on these considerations that I pity a Christian who finds himself in the position of a spokesperson of an Islamic party. Mark my words, all critical decisions will be taken behind his back during the afternoon prayer sessions which he will be unable to attend.

“As to the substance of the response itself, I find it deliberately obtuse, skirting around the real issues raised in my press statement. It was empty of substance and logic; a true product of a sycophantic mind that has no capacity to understand the subtle nuances underlying a message delivered to a discerning audience.’’

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