The Christian Association of Nigeria set an agenda for the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to address in the national interest on Monday.
Tinubu, according to CAN, should put an end to unlawful marriages and coerced conversion to another religion in the North, against the preferences of the converts.
According to CAN, Tinubu must be assertive in tackling ethnic and religious biases, adding that Nigerians should be able to gain access to economic and sociopolitical benefits in any part of the country where they choose to reside.
The President of CAN, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, stated these during the Church and Mission Leaders’ Summit, organised by the Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation in Abuja, with the theme, “Peace-Building and Christian Mission.”
At the summit, which was attended by various religious leaders, participants discussed ways to collaborate with the government and other stakeholders towards achieving a lasting peace in Nigeria.
The CAN President said, “The incoming administration must utilise the goodwill of faith leaders to seek genuine peace that will be all-inclusive.
“It must be assertive in addressing the issues of ethnic and religious identity. Nigerians should be able to lay claim and gain access to economic and sociopolitical benefits in any part of the country where they chose to reside.
“Addressing the ‘indigeneity’ clause and according full residency rights to Nigerians will be a right step in the right direction.
“The Federal Character principle should be respected; and total right to freedom of belief or worship should be granted unhindered to citizens to freely subscribe to any religion of their choice.
“Abduction, illegal marriage and forceful conversion of persons to a faith against their wish is archaic, reprehensible and condemnable all over the modern world and should not be allowed to thrive here.
“This anti-social practice, which has gained traction especially in northern Nigeria, should be discouraged and condemned by well-meaning citizens and constituted authorities alike.”
The CAN President also tasked Tinubu on accountable governance, saying, “It is not a secret that Nigeria lacks quality leadership that is yet to transform the abundant economic wealth available in the land towards sustainable development.”
The President of the Foundation, Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, explained that the summit was organised to address the hostile Christian environment because of the atrocities of Boko Haram and other evil groups.
He said, “This vision stems from the current reality of what the Church in Nigeria is experiencing. Nigeria’s mission context is hostile and not Church-friendly at the moment. It actually has been so for decades now. Without doubt, the Church in Nigeria is experiencing an existential threat.
“The Church is currently faced with a myriad of challenges as persecution against the Church and attacks on Christian communities intensifies by a combination of what we call the triumvirate of evil: Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and bandits destructive activities.
“There are also incidents of killings and counter-killings between Christians and Fulani herders in some communities, but such unfortunate developments have become excuses to wage large unjustified attacks on the Christian community