The Christian Association of Nigeria has threatened to boycott the 2016 population census and subsequent exercises if there is no provision for religion.
The association was faulting the claim by an Islamic organization, Jama’atu Nasril Islam, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III, that the process of selecting delegates to the National Conference was not done with fair representation and will affect the credibility of its outcome.
The General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake, who issued the threat in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja said the inclusion of religion would correct certain negative impressions about the rivalry about which religion has more adherents than the others in the country.
The JNI had through its Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar, stated that “Christians, who by all acceptable records are not more than 40 per cent of the country’s population ironically constitute 62 per cent of the total delegates.”
But Asake described the claim as an “unprovoked defamation of Nigeria Christians.”
He said, “CAN may need to remind JNI of the argument and refusal of Muslims to include religion during the last census in Nigeria. We appeal to JNI not to use religion as a basis for their reservations about the National Conference. We believe the conference will do Nigeria a lot of good.
“Meanwhile, the JNI should come out with the figures that make the Muslim population to be more than that of Christians as we in CAN will boycott future census in Nigeria beginning with the 2016 exercise if they do not include religion. Enough is enough!”
While describing the JNI assertion as disappointing especially coming from a person of Khalid’s standing in educational attainment, Asake said assuming or suggesting, as it were, that Muslims are more than Christians in Nigeria as the basis for argument when no census anchored on religion has been carried out was “logically faulty.”
He said, “When and how are these figures by the international agencies arrived at? Which of the international agencies have census figures that Nigerians do not have? Has there been any census by international agencies in Nigeria? To put forward a suggestion or theories like this one by Khalid, for others to consider should have been well thought out. In this case, the JNI Secretary General goofed, having put out insensible arguments and thoughts.
“We are therefore challenging the Secretary-General of the JNI to make it public the source of his population figures which shows that Christians in this country are 40 per cent.”
The association said if JNI did not respond to the population issue, and produce their claimed sources, it would use alternative means to ascertain the fact of their publication.
Asake said, “We cannot continue to allow people like the JNI to be making reckless and false statements, bringing division among Christians and Muslims, when we are busy working hard to see we live together in peace and harmony.
“The body of rules, ideas, principles and techniques that applies to subjects like census figures must be those matched by empirical evidences. Khalid’s ideas, thoughts and beliefs about the 40 per cent Christian population and 62 per cent of delegates being Christians are therefore mere speculation and conjectures to buy in the idea of a region’s reluctance to attend the conference. It is another way of using religion to shoot down the conference.”