In view of the various challenges confronting the Church in particular, and the nation in general, it was deemed expedient that Christian Elders, nationwide, should be summoned to give counsel and direction in this crucial season.
The National Christian Elders Forum was inaugurated on 15th January, 2015 by the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and it held a two-day Retreat in Abuja on 5th and 6th February. All the Christian blocs in Nigeria were represented at the Retreat.
At the end of the Retreat, the Elders Forum released the Communiqué below.
TEXT OF COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF TWO-DAYS RETREAT OF NATIONAL CHRISTIAN ELDERS FORUM HELD AT ABUJA ON 5TH & 6TH FEBRUARY, 2015
The National Christian Elders Forum, after two days of intensive deliberations, in Abuja, on the various challenges that affect Christians in Nigeria today, observes that;
- Nigerians must integrate as a nation and to achieve this, we must agree on the facts of our past. Thereafter, we can confidently formulate a dream for the future of Nigeria.
- There can be no peace without justice, and if there is no justice in the land, we cannot find justice in our courts, churches, and mosques.
- We must integrate the two races in Nigeria made up of the indigenous Nigerians and Nigerians of Arab descent.
- Integration must go on side by side with reconciliation.
- That Nigeria’s problem is ideological; it is a conflict between liberal democracy and Sharia.
- There have been relentless attempts to undermine democracy in Nigeria and replace it with a different ideology based on a religious belief. This can be inferred from the non justiciable of Section 14 (1 & 2) of the Constitution.
- The various ethnic nationalities consented in 1957 to form the Nigeria Federation on the basis of liberal democracy as National ideology. However, it has been observed that attempts are being made to make Nigeria an Islamic state through membership of OIC and D8.
- The 1963 Constitution of Nigeria provided for Sharia as a personal law same as Customary Law, but Sharia has since been elevated as another source of legislation over and above the Constitution.
- Innocent Nigerians are recklessly and senselessly killed with impunity by Boko Haram Islamic terrorists and Fulani herdsmen under the corrupted version of Islam which has been rejected by mainstreamMuslims throughout the world.
- Boko Haram or ISIS cannot be defeated without the cooperation of mainstream Muslims and Islamic clerics who preach hate sermons.
- The level of unbridled corruption and graft is the consequence of military coup resulting in the over throw of legitimate government and democracy.
- There is an attempt to disenfranchise Christians in the North from exercising their civic rights during the forthcoming elections through the non-issuance of voter’s cards to many Christians in the region.
- The destructive attacks of Muslim insurgents on Christian communities in the North have created a massive population of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria (IDPs) and this group of people may likely be unable to participate in the forthcoming elections.
- The Nigerian military has been sacrificial and has demonstrated commitment to defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Therefore, the Forum hereby resolves that the;
- Unity of the Nigerian nation is non-negotiable therefore integration and reconciliation must take place in order to strengthen it.
- Government should take immediate steps to promulgate a new Constitution based on the National Conference recommendations that would be subject to a referendum and will comply with the original ideology of the nation which is liberal democracy.
- The Elders Forum noted with satisfaction that all attempts by Boko Haram to provoke the country into an all out war have not succeeded. The Forum commends President Jonathan’s refined approach in managing the menace.
- Current level of corruption in the nation, which commenced under previous administrations, is unacceptable and every effort must be made to eradicate this menace.
- Recklessness and impunity with which Boko Haram Islamic insurgents and Fulani herdsmen are killing Nigerians and causing massive devastation in the nation are deplorable and all actions, human and material resources, must be channeled to stamp it out.
- That the national intelligence service should be restructured to meet the demands of a liberal and democratic country.
- Recommendations of the National Conference should be implemented to the letter.
- Teaching of history lessons should be restored in schools so that succeeding generations will know where we are coming from.
- Moral lessons should be taught in schools to stem the trend of moral decadence in the society.
- Future National Census should henceforth reflect both religion and ethnicity.
- Creation of jobs for our teeming youths and hence reduction of poverty in the nation must be the priority at this time.
- Ranches should be operated in the states of origin of nomadic cattle rearers to put an end to fatal clashes between farmers and cattle rearers.
- Government should ensure that all Nigerians, irrespective of religion or ethnicity receive the voter’s card and sufficient protection to exercise their civic responsibility.
- In view of the senseless killing of members of the NYSC and many other innocent Nigerians after the 2011 national elections, adequate security must be guaranteed before, during, and after the coming elections.
- Government should also ensure that internally displaced persons (IDPs) receive sufficient opportunity to vote at wherever is their present location in the country.
- All politicians must play politics according to the rule of law and we urge Nigerians to vote wisely.
God bless Nigeria.
Mr. Solomon Asemota, SAN Lt. Gen. Joshua N. Dogonyaro, (Rtd) mni, CFR
Chairman, Elders Forum Chairman, Plenary Session, Elders Forum