Mallam Abdurahman AbdulRasaq
Executive Governor, Kwara State
Government House, Ahmadu Bello Way
INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE
Being the text of an open letter written at the end of the emergency meeting of the State Executive Council of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kwara State
Chapter and all her Critical Stakeholders held on 6th day of April 2020 at the
Catholic Secretariat, Tanke Junction, IIorin, Kwara State.
The Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) by her charter is the umbrella body for
all Christians in Nigeria. The Kwara State Chapter is particularly charged to act as a liaison committee, by which member churches can consult together and when necessary, make common statement and take common actions on issues that concern the general welfare of the Christians in the State.
As a critical stakeholder in the socio-political affairs of the State, we have never shied away from working in understanding with the people of other faiths and the government of Kwara State to ensure that peace and harmony which are essential to overall development of the State are maintained without any form of disruption, even in the face of provocative marginalisation of Christians in the polity.
As it stands today, none of the nine (9) Federal Legislators from Kwara State is a Christian, a situation that ordinarily should spark off suspicion of an agenda because such a development is not a result of drought of astute Christian Politicians in the processes that culminated into the emergence of candidates for those positions. However in spite of the underhand tactics that cheated Christians out of the race, we looked away since those offices are elective positions.
Our frustrations and why we resulted to writing an open letter:
Your Excellency may wish to note that this open letter became our last option, after several efforts made to meet your Excellency privately to table our observations on several issues including the pressing issue of technical ban placed on prayer and preaching in our Schools by the Honorable Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development proved abortive. We have managed that absurd policy with optimal maturity and avoided media altercation in the belief that Your Excellency will be available for a quick resolution of the matter and other connected issues. But to our utter dismay the events of recent times and your evasiveness leave us with no other option than to shout out if our whispers are too inaudible for Your Excellency’s ears.
Also in view of the ongoing war against COVID – 19 pandemic, we would still have extended the period of waiting on Your Excellency but the speed at which Your Excellency started to rush appointments which excluded Christians while the lockdown lasts has forced us to result to calling Your Excellency’s attention to the unprecedented lopsidedness in all the appointment so far made by Your Excellency.
Our action is thus premised on the fact that we sense a hidden agenda in the rush of all appointments at a crucial stage when lives should be rescued and secured, knowing fully that appointees are not going to resume work during this stay –back- at -home period.
We are sad that while churches and mosques are stopped from carrying out their operations,
Your Excellency’s preoccupation revolves around making controversial appointments and the last set of it was a shock at the expense of the emergence and presence of COVID-19 in your state.
Facts of the matter:
As it stands today, almost all the appointments so far made by Your Excellency do not reflect sensitivity to the religious plurality of the State and the following facts will reveal the obvious:
1. On coming on board of this government under your leadership on May 29, 2019, Your Excellency promised to be fair to all Kwarans. However, right from that time till date, the Christians are yet to see a true reflection of that promise. For instance, the first three appointments you made; the Chief of Staff, the Secretary to the State Government and Chief Press Secretary and later that of the Deputy Chief of Staff did not include a single Christian. Yet, the Deputy Chief of Staff slot has always been reserved for a Christian once the Chief of Staff is a Muslim.
2. Out of the sixteen (16) commissioners that were appointed, only five (5) are Christians while all Special Advisers are non-Christians. This indicates that out of the twenty-six (26) member, State Executive Council, only six (6) including the Deputy Governor are Christians;
3. None of the Chairmen of the Governing Boards of all Statutory Boards and Commissions i.e Kwara State Civil Service Commission, Kwara State Judicial Service Commission, Kwara State House of Assembly Commission, Kwara State Polytechnic Board, Kwara State University(KWASU)Board, Local Government Service Commission, Teaching Service Commission, International Aviation College and IVTEC just to mention but a few so far appointed is a Christian;
4. Still in continuation of the marginalization, appointments of both the Rector, Kwara State Polytechnic and the Vice-chancellors of Kwara State University were schemed against the emergence of suitably qualified Christian academics;
5. Again, out of the eight (8) Permanent Secretaries so far appointed by your Excellency, only two (2) are Christians. Coupled with this is the unholy appointment of junior staff to superintend as Acting General managers over their most senior colleagues who are Christians in two (2) of the three (3) media houses in the State. That of the Radio Kwara, which we brought to Your Excellency’s attention for remedy still remain unattended to;
6. While it is true that a Christian was appointed as Special Assistant on Religion, Christian Affairs and another as Chairman, Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, these are positions that naturally should go to Christians. Meanwhile, none of the heads of the following agencies so far appointed by Your Excellency is a Christian: Kwara State Water Corporation, Kwara State Bureau of Land as well as Harmony Holdings Limited.
7. In continuation of the marginalization, our Churches were locked down without due consultations with CAN leadership. Your Excellency may wish to note that such style is not in tandem with democratic tenets. Although we understand that the lockdown was done as a preventive measure against COVID-19, but that due process of consultation as done for other stakeholders was not followed is not good. Your Excellency should note that the leadership of the Church is not in any way an appendage to any religious or traditional institution in the State. That notwithstanding, we showed understanding and persuaded all churches to close their services. We also on our own volition directed that Palm Sunday rally and Easter activities be suspended in strict compliance with the principles of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. However, we wish to state without mincing words that any such arbitrary use of crude force to trample on our fundamental right to freedom of association and worship in the future will not be treated with kids’ gloves;
8. In furtherance of Christian marginalization in Kwara State, we wish to put it on record that the lawful CAN leadership were never consulted nor involved in the Kwara State COVID -19 Technical Committee thus the interest of Christians were not taken care of. On this, we are not unaware of the divisive approach adopted by Your Excellency’s government to hand pick individuals whom Your Excellency believes will do your bidding to serve in the Palliatives Distribution Committee, an offshoot of the main committee. This to us is an aberration that will be vehemently resisted if it should happen again in the future;
9. Your Excellency, we wish to again reassert the fact that the only organ that can speak on behalf, or represent, the Christian body in the State is the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kwara State Chapter. No other individual or body is or can be authorized to do same. Thus, your government will do well to follow this established structure in your relationship with Christians in the State;
10. Though non-partisan, CAN is always open and ready to support and work with government for peace and welfare of the people. We are also always committed to praying always for the government in line with the injunction of our Lord and saviour.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kwara State chapter hereby demands for
fair representation of Christians in all aspects of governance in Kwara State and wish to reiterate our willingness to be available for sincere dialogue that will lead to a redress and reversal of this dangerous trend.
As it stands presently, having patiently borne with previous appointments that were grossly unfair to our faith, Kwara State Christians are not happy with this latest demonstration of unprecedented marginalization and discrimination against us in all spheres of governance in the State. We therefore reject the appointments, particularly of the heads of statutory bodies and ask for an immediate review to reflect our plurality as a state, and a practical demonstration of what Your Excellency promised Kwarans on May 29, 2019, after you were sworn in as Executive Governor.
Yours in the service of Kwara State, through the love of Our Lord and Saviour,
Rev (Dr) Reuben Idowu Ibitoye
Most Rev. Paul A. Olawoore