An attempt to mislead Nigerians and spark religious misunderstanding on the several appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari has been exposed by countermanding evidence and facts.

The unholy plot packaged by a group named “Coalition of Christian Groups” is believed to have been motivated by those who had attempted but failed to demonize the President during the 2015 presidential campaigns on religious lines.

Sources said the promoters of the group were disowned by the new leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, when they sought to use CAN to issue a recent statement titled “Discriminatory Appointments Against Non-Muslims in Nigeria.”

However, determined to desperately advance their crafty course, the group went on to issue the statement and purportedly got a lawyer, Mr. Solomon Asemota to sign the statement which is presently circulating on different social media platforms.

In its deliberate act of mischief, the said statement ignored the facts that President Buhari named a Christian as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, a Christian as the Head of Service and maintained a Christian in the post of Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission.

The aforementioned positions are key gatekeeping and powerful positions in the Nigerian public service. The group also deliberately ignored the crystal clear fact that a Christian is the Minister of State for Petroleum, and is the Chairman of the NNPC Board. There are more Christians than Moslems in President Buhari’s cabinet and they hold key posts like Finance, Foreign Affairs, Industry, Trade & Investments, Health, Transportation, Labour, Budget & Planning, Science & Technology among several others

Furthermore, President Buhari’s personal cook, driver, Special Adviser-Media and others are all Christians. The governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, PENCOM Chairman and an overwhelming majority of the positions in the country’s finance sector are held by southern Christians, including those named by the President.

While there are no Imams in the cabinet, President Buhari has the highest number of Pastors in the federal cabinet ever – the Vice President, SGF, Ministers of Industry and Niger Delta. Two members of the three-member presidential communication team are also pastors.

President Buhari has in the meantime made appointments into the boards of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the National Communications Commission with more Christians that Moslems. In the instance of NCC, there was another Pastor named to the Board!

As at June 2016, a cursory look at all the top CEOs and board appointments in the MDAs made by President Buhari and the existing holders of positions he did not remove shows the following geo-political distribution: NorthWest-53, NorthEast-33, NorthCentral-45, SouthEast-35, SouthWest-47 and South-South-46.

The “Coalition of Christian Groups.” also accused the President of being behind the retiring of certain military officers saying majority of them were non-moslems. The group however failed to ask the more important question ‘whether or not those retired were considered corrupt or compromised?

This group, in its statement held the president guilty of appointments he did not make which include the Chief Justice of the Federation and other judicial positions.

Nigerians at home and abroad must rise in unison to condemn these proponents of negative, divisive and obnoxious agitations such as the Coalition of Christian Groups (CCG), a group which can at best be described as enemies of democracy and good governance.

It is pertinent to state that this group which claims to be championing the interest of non-Muslims or Christians has raised unjustifiable arguments in the said statement titled “Discriminatory Appointments Against Non-Muslims In Nigeria,” which is a most unfair, inaccurate and distasteful attack of the Buhari administration.

As a concerned group of independent citizens without any political inclinations, we are compelled to speak out against any group or individuals under any guise who seek to employ negative, tribal, sectional or religious rhetorics that portend grave danger for current efforts at addressing pressing socio-economic challenges which Nigeria is presently facing today.

The Coalition of Christian Groups (CCG) under the purported leadership of senior lawyer, Solomon Asemota, SAN, insulted Nigerians when it labelled a democratically elected President Muhammadu Buhari and his government as an Islamist Jihadists government. This is indeed an insult to all Nigerians across the six geo-political zones who made President Buhari their choice at the 2015 Presidential polls.

Without any modicum of truth, it posits that the government engages in “a brazen and audacious imposition of Islamist Jihadists into key positions in the country.”

To justify this claim, it only refers to 48 appointments some of which are in professional capacities. In a deliberate effort to mislead and demonize, the group simply refused to state the facts some of which have been highlighted above.

Writing mainly about recent appointments in the education sector where some of the appointments include northerners, the group tried to suggest that the professionals referred to are unqualified to serve their fatherland, because of their tribal or religious background. This is undoubtedly myopic and shows the fallacious tendencies of their logic.

Its claim that “most functional Boards in the Civil Service are headed mostly by Muslims and Fulanis which is becoming a threat and danger to the very foundation of Nigeria” is rather unfortunate and absurd. Can the appointments of eminently qualified educationists like Prof. Ishaq Oloyede in JAMB threaten Nigeria’s foundation?

It is therefore pertinent to ask why this group only focuses on one or on the education sector and not check others like the financial and economic sectors that are presently dominated by southerners. For instance, besides the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, the Chairman of FIRS, the DG Budget Office of the Federation and the DG, Debt Management Office, to mention a few are all Christians and southerners.

It is also a known and verifiable fact that key constitutional parastatals are headed by Christian southerners. For instance, critical positions in the public service are headed by Christians, for example, as stated above the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission and also the Chairman of RMA&FC are all Christians.

If there are more Northerners or even Moslems holding top positions in the security sector, what about other sectors where the opposite is true? In a federal system and a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like us, you win some and loss some, no one can get it all. You give and you take!

For instance, our findings reveal that agencies in critical sectors of the economy are populated by non-Muslims from the other “386 ethnic nationalities” in this country which the Asemota-Group claimed are being marginalised. In the Power sector, 29 out of 38 heads of parastatals/departments are from other tribes other than the Fulani tribe that they try so hard to malign.

In the agriculture sector, 19 non-Muslims southerners superintend over government agencies, while only 8 are from the north. Should our Moslem compatriots now also cry out that there is an attempt to marginalize the country because of all these?

It is equally important to emphasize that Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to fighting corruption. We wonder how otherwise respected elites like this group can put on the cloak of ethnicity and religious bias and allow themselves to be purveyors of sectional and divisive narratives which is what our great Nigeria does not need at this material time in our history.

The group adopting ridiculously inflammatory language casually referred to well-meaning Nigerians serving their fatherland as Jihadists, a term that has become a synonym for terrorists and insurgents. Is this how a Christian group should speak? Is such an abusive tone and language right for those who claim to be Christian? Did Elder Asemota actually signed such a statement full of bigotry, hatred and venom?

We hope this group is not fighting the cause of some corrupt elites who are sabotaging every effort of the Buhari administration at repositioning Nigeria for meaningful development. As the saying goes, this may be a case of corruption fighting back.

Nigerians must therefore reject the selfish agitations of groups such as CCG, who are enemies of progress, democracy and good governance. We call on Mr. President and other elected and duly appointed leaders to stay focussed on transforming Nigeria especially at this critical period.

Ibrahim Olalekan
National Coordinator


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