Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has berated the Governor of Niger state for excluding Christians in his recent appointment of principal officers, saying “the trend is outright discrimination on Christians in the state”.
It should be noted that the governor recently approved the appointment of Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane as the new Secretary to the Government of Niger State.
While Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe was appointed as the new Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hajiya Salamatu T. Abubakar was appointed the new Head of Service.
According to the Chairman “we consider the most recent development as embarrassing, we consider it to be alarming, to be a disappointment and for this, we are speaking on behalf of all Christians in Niger state.
“We have had a very good and cordial relationship with the present administration especially during the first tenure; we appreciate the mutual respect we have enjoyed throughout that period.
The CAN Chairman while frowning at the trend at which Christians are excluded said “this was part of the complain in the last administration but to our embarrassment, surprise and disappointment, we got to know that the governor appointed an SSG, COS and HOS and none of whom are Christians.
“This has now given us a picture that Christians are considered as second class citizens. It showed that Christians are considered irrelevant and their presence are inconsequential in Niger state and I can tell you that this is totally unacceptable.”
He added that “in the course of our relationship, we never relented and to bring to the fore, the need for Christians to be part of the principal leaders of the Niger state government. But the explanation and excuses we were given at that time was that people were appointed based on merit and participated in politics.
“So with this, we went out to address our people (Christians); we motivated and encouraged them for party politics and political involvement both at the state and at the grassroots levels.
“And as much as I know, the level of participation of Christians in politics, active involvement and personal sacrifices was like what every other politician could make. This time, we have never had it like this in the past”.
On competence, experience and expertise, the leader of Christians in the state said “we have our hands full, we know that we have several competent people that have influence; movers and shakers in the happenings of our time.
“We made our contributions for the overall success of this government, but now that the battle has been won, of course, the dividends is supposed to go across the stakeholders and benefit everyone that participated in the elections.
“Those of us who were actively involved and made their sacrificial contribution to the success of the present administration should also benefit from it and especially because the Bible said “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
He also declared that “Christians in Niger state participated very well and actively during the primaries, before, during and after the general elections, I can vouch that the level of our participants have never been like any other time in the state.
“If we were that aggressive; if we were that involving; if we were that sacrificial; if we were that committed; if we were all given to it as we did. Then, it wasn’t a hidden thing that Christians were generally involved in the elections.
“I know how much Christians overwhelmingly voted for the present administration, we, therefore, expect that we should have our share of the booty.
Revd. Echioda further disclosed that “we believe this act is equal to political robbery and we will not be taken that low at all because we contributed to enthroning the present administration; we should also be part of the decision making at the highest level in terms of management, policy fomulation and policy implementation. ”
While appealing to the governor to have a rethink, the CAN Chairman said “this is our cry, we want government to know that we are not at home at all with the present political transactions.
“And let me put the record straight and right, we are not saying we are against the individuals that were appointed, we are not against any if them but we are saying that the action of the government leaves much for contemplation.
“We keep on thinking about it and it seems as if we woke up on the wrong side and find ourselves with a very terrible nightmare, we are crying back to government, to the society that this is an outright discrimination, it is injustice and a display of unfair judgement especially when we are in a democratic society where there should be equity, fair play and justice.
He added that “common sense suggest from the rule of morality that those who participated should be reasonably rewarded so that they will continue building the body they suffered to bring into being.
“The world has to hear us, the state have to hear us, everyone have to hear us because this is important to us.
Giving credence to the immediate past administration of Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, he disclosed that, “the last time Christians were members of the administrative body, Dr. Aliyu had a COS and SSG who were Christians but when this administration came in, we discovered that we were deprived of all these.
“Consistently for his first term, Christians were not much in the cabinet of the governor, there was no time that the commissioners were more than four”.
He warned that “the government is giving us an impression that is easily understood. We want to say that we are beginning to doubt the cordiality and sincerity of our relationship with the government because the relationship that looks for my assistance only when they are in need and when you are out of the woods, you no longer consider my pains as to be able to address it becomes what is termed a hypocritical relationship and a one-sided relationship will not work.
“CAN is calling on government, the governor and the powers that be to look into what has been done and let the Christians be given their due share of the democratic dividends as far as appointments are concerned and the first leg of it has to start with this particular one.
He also called on all Christians in active Politics to join on the crusade to end the trend.
Accordingly, he said “we call on all Christian politicians, regardless of your political leanings, come together to form a strong front and stand against this obvious denial, this open robbery that is a great abuse and an insult of our collective intelligence.
“This is our presentation that CAN will not take this at all, we are being conspicuously and deliberately refused to being part and parcel of the leadership of the present administration is headed by Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello.”