The extra day holiday enjoyed by Muslims in particular, and Nigerians in general has not gone down well with a group of Christians in the country.
The groups led by National Christian Elders Forum have condemned the extension of public holiday by the Federal Government over the non-sighting of the moon during the just-concluded Eid-el-Kabir celebration by the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III.
While insisting that the trend portends a dangerous precedent that the government of Muhammadu Buhari was taking instructions from the Sultan, the coalition said the government and Islamic leaders should repay the country the extra day that was lost during the next Eid-el-Kabir “in which we expect that only one day should be approved as Public Holiday.”
Key members of NCEF include Mr. Solomon Asemota (SAN) (Chairman); Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (rtd); Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (rtd), Dr. (Mrs) Kate Okpareke, Dr. Ayo Abifarin, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri, Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Nat Okoro and Prof. Vincent Anigbogu.
Others are Gen. Ishaku Dikko (rtd), Justice Kalajine Anigbogu (rtd), Elder Shyngle Wigwe, DIG P. L. Dabup, Sir John W. Bagu, Dr. Saleh Hussaini, Elder Mike Orobator, Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, Justice M. Ogebe (rtd), Mrs. Priscilla Kuye, Chief Debo Omotosho, Dr. Musa Asake, Joseph Daramola, Pastor Olatunbosun Emmanuel (Secretary).
The coalition in a statement by Asemota in Abuja, said it was obvious that the All Progressives Congress (APC), which promised Nigerians change from the lawlessness and impunity that seemed to characterise this country, was drifting the country to a wrong direction.
Apart from NCEF, other members of the coalition include Nigerian Christian Graduate Fellowship; Think Tank for the body of Christ; Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria; Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria; Students Christian Movement; Christian Professionals Forum; Intercessors for Nigeria and and International Prophetic Ministerial Association (Inc. Worldwide College of Bishops and Ministers: Africa, UK and USA.
The coalition also has Intercessors Without Walls; Wailing Women International; Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship; Nigerian Fellowship of Christian Students; Ministers Prayer Network; International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and University Joint Campus Christian Fellowship as members.
The statement by Asemota reads: “As Nigerians, we congratulate the Muslims in the nation on their successful completion of the Ramadan fast in 2016. However, we are disturbed by the apparent shoddiness and confusion the Federal Government brought into the declaration of the Public Holiday rounding up the Muslim religious exercise.
“The Federal Government had earlier declared Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th July as Public Holiday only to reverse itself and declare Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th July 2016 as Public Holiday. If this was done before Tuesday was observed as Public Holiday, it would have been tolerable but declaring Thursday 7th as Public Holiday in addition to Tuesday and Wednesday is a mark of institutional unseriousness.
“We are not aware that Nigeria has transmuted into a religious theocratic state in which the leader of a religious group issues directive to the Federal Government. If the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs confirmed Wednesday and Thursday as Public Holiday for the Ramadan fasting, then who advised the Federal Government to declareTuesday a Public Holiday?
“The Buhari Administration needs to be reminded again that Nigeria is not an Islamic Theocratic State that receives “directive” from a Sultan. Nigeria is a democratic and secular nation and preferential treatment should not be accorded any section of the nation but all should be treated equally.
“If indeed a mistake was made in declaring Tuesday a Public Holiday that does not warrant declaring Thursday a Public Holiday. Both the Federal Government and leaders of Islam should have maintained the statutory two days Public Holiday and learnt a lesson on how to not to repeat the mistake in future.
“It is very embarrassing the tardiness and shoddiness that the Buhari Administration has brought into governance in Nigeria. Decent and respectable people are ashamed at the flagrant acts of discrimination, nepotism, and impunity of the APC led government.
“Nevertheless, having illegally appropriated an additional day as Pubic Holiday during the Eid-el-Fitri, the Federal Government and leaders of Islam should be prepared to repay the nation the extra day during the next Eid-el-Kabir in which we expect only one day should be approved as Public Holiday. Nigeria should not be turned into a lawless nation. The APC led government should call itself to order”, the statement read.
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