Newly elected president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Dr. Supo Samson Ayokunle, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the constitution at all times.
Reverend Ayokunle in his first interview after he won the CAN Presidency in Abuja said he foresaw his election to lead Christians in Nigeria as far back as 2015.
The cleric who warned President Buhari, to “maintain balance and keep close to the constitution”, irrespective of his religious affiliation to avoid opening the door for lawlessness in the society, also condemned the enlistment of Nigeria into a coalition under the aegis of Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).
Ayokunle, who is also President of Nigerian Baptist Convention, was reacting to some national issues, including the killing of an Igbo businesswoman in Kano and an attack on a Christian in Kaduna for allegedly eating during Ramadan.
His words: “Well, in one of these nights in October 2015, when I was doing my holiday in Houston, Texas with my wife, I had a dream that I participated in CAN presidential election and I saw a bloc that is not mine, voting for me enmass. And I woke my wife up and I said, ‘Mummy, am I going to be a candidate in CAN’s election?
“And she said: ‘no you are not going to be in Jesus Name’. I asked ‘why’ and she said, ‘the trouble there is too much, I don’t want you for that type of trouble’. But I said, ‘well life is a sacrifice and I don’t think God is a joker, He doesn’t joke.’ God is communicating something to us and I don’t think we need to reply through emotion, we need to be serious and go into serious prayers to know the mind of God concerning this matter”, he revealed.
According to him, Islamic leaders should mentor their children properly and ascertain who is “radicalising their children and turning them into murderers” and be able to teach what is right, to reduce religious intolerance.
He said: “Whenever the government is not upholding the sanctity of the constitution in terms of the secularity of our existence, the church must speak out without fear of favour. For example, we have been talking of OIC. Does the government of Nigeria have the right to take the country into OIC? Is it in keeping with the spirit of the constitution? No, and when you continue to pull people, the limit is to push them to the wall, if you have been telling people to move and they move to the wall and you are still telling them move, where do you want them to move to?
“So the government of Nigeria should not take things for granted and think that Christians are fools and they will be seen to be promoting one religion above the other or favor one religion to the detriment of the other. Whenever we see that, we are going to tell them to be very careful and we are going to speak out. Who you are going to worship is a fundamental fight of every individual and government is there to protect that, not to force one religion on the other.
“I want to advise the present government to maintain balance and keep close to constitution irrespective of the religious belief of those in government. The government should respect the constitution of Nigeria because if the government breaks the constitution of Nigeria on religion alone, they have already opened the door for lawlessness in the society”, he added.
Ayokunle also called on Islamic leaders to talk to their children who, he said, are not giving them honour by what they are doing.
“They (children) are bringing disgrace to the religion of Islam; we have existed together for many years without this type of development, so it is the duty of the Islamic leaders in Nigeria to look for those who are radicalising their children and turning them into murderers and be able to apprehend them and hand them over to the government or speak to them to teach what is right.
“To say that they are not Muslims is so embarrassing. So who are they? Are they Christians? Are they pagans? If they are pagans why do they owe allegiance to the Koran? Do pagans, hold Koran or owe allegiance to it”, he asked.
According to Ayokunle, the recent attack on a Christian for allegedly eating during fasting was the height of religious intolerance and bestiality.
He said, “Somebody was going to eat in the afternoon; he was not a muslim, what right do you have to go and stab that person in a law abiding society? From where are they coming? When you are not from the bush, you are not a beast, how can you just behave like that? What is Nigeria becoming in the name of religion?
“So these are the things we must all rise to condemn. Since nobody has monopoly to guns and violence, we should not continue to provoke people. There is a theory in Psychology that instigation to aggression depends on the degree of frustration. If you continue to frustrate a people they may end up becoming aggressive, we don’t want that state.”