The Senate President, David Mark, said that Jonathan went through tremendous pressure from the West before signing the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2013 into law on January 7th.
Mark disclosed this on Sunday at the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), 2014 First Plenary Meeting with the theme: Church and state partnership in providing quality education for Nigerian People, held at the Catholic Pro-Cathedral in Area 3, Abuja. The conference will end on March 14th.
Mark said the pressure came from some of the most powerful nations in the world, to the extend that at a point, he (Mark) was worried if the President would succeed in resisting the pressure.
He said Jonathan deserved commendation for not succumbing to the pressure.
“I must commend Mr. presidents for the courage he exhibited because I am aware that at one point, he was under serious and tremendous pressure not to sign that bill into law by some of the most powerful nations on the earth. But he demonstrated courage and patriotism, we must thank him,” he said.
The Senate President also condemned the killings in the North Eastern part of the country, especially the recent killings of schoolchildren, describing them as unacceptable.
He argued that killing human beings is not the right way to express one’s grievances.
He also supported the return of all schools taken from missionaries, describing poor quality education as major cause of moral decadence in the country.
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Epiphany Azinge, Director General, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, praised the Jonathan for his calmness and humility “in the face of of senseless criticisms”.
He said timing of the conference was very instructive and so is the theme and that the significance of it being schedule with the time of the lent season cannot be lost.
“It offers the platform to discourse issues affecting the nation as well as pray for the nation including the national conference scheduled for March 17th,” he said.
He also commended President Jonathan for the anti-same sex marriage in the face of criticism from the West as well as his transformation agenda, adding that God will continue to be his strength.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Archbishop of the church and President CBCN, Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, said partnership between Government and voluntary agencies, especially the church, worked very well in the past until when it was taken away in the 70s and since then, the mutual harmonious promotion of integral education by government and religious organizations has suffered a serious set back.
He said it was Catholic Church patriotic desire to give the best to the children and youth of the country that they seek to revive the sincere partnership in education between governments who have seen the wisdom in partnering especially with religious organisations to improve educational standards.
He commended some states, like Benue, Anambra, delta, Lagos, Ekiti, pleteau, Ondo and ebonyi, who have demonstrated their commitment to continue to pay salaries of teachers in mission schools, give grants to private schools for infrastructural development and rebuilding of mission schools.
Kaigama urged government to return seized missions school and provide reasonable funding to enable them educate the children as a matter of justice rather than favour.
He said schools administration should be a shared responsibility between the accompanied by enough financial supports from budgetary allocations.
While praying for the national conference about to commence soon, the cleric said, “May the spirit of reconciliation and understanding inspire delegates and others who participate in it. If we approached in the right spirit, the dialogue could address matters of national significance for the common good of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“It (national conference) should not be mainly concerned about debating or agitating for sectional or regional interests, exclusive rights to resources or even the division of the country. More pressing issues in educational, medical or infrastructural development, if well addressed will render all these agitations unnecessary. The conference should truly be concerned about fundamental issues such as how to make our public and civil service officials more accountable, more sefless and more devoted to duties. It should ask serious questions and make recommendations about youth social welfare, welfare of pensioners, study how to neutralise an environment saturated with the toxic culture of corruption, the ungodly struggle for political power, the exorbitant cost of governance and above all to evolve effective strategies to avoid the embarrassing terrorist situation brought about by some factors perhaps previously neglected.
“Groups keep complaining of marginalisation of discrimination, using ethnicity, religion or region as reasons. I believe that even if we made every state a country today, there could still be claims of discrimination and marginalization. Even if resources found in particular areas were left to the exclusive use of such areas what guarantee is there that there will be equity? The example of South Sudan is a case in point. The culture of corruption which has become deeply entrenched will not allow equity of justice to previal.
“What we need is correct attitudinal change, by being other-centered rather than self-centered and allowing our work ethics and general outlook to be dictated by selflessness and not by narrow religious or ethnic convictions.
“We must patriotically defend Nigerian interests using the cherished values of our cultures and religions”.
Kaigama speaking on next year’s election urged that the focus should be on Nigerians and not what politicians stand to gain.
The elections of 2015 should be about how Nigeria and Nigerians can become better and not what politicians stand to gain from huge resources only waiting to be accessed by them.
“We pray for a political campaign that is free of ‘political abracadabra’, aiming to win at all costs. Elections chacterised by false alarms, needless court cases, hostile reaction of losers, the arrogance and insensitivity of winners, misuse of incumbency powers, etc cannot catapult us into a political paradise. Electoral officials, security agents and the electorate must approach elections with a strictly godly conscience, upholding the rule of law not succumbing to financial inducements, god father or god mother pressure or even robbery of votes”.
While commending President Jonathan for the anti-same sex marriage despite the criticism, Kaigama challenged the west to channel their energy of fighting for gay rights fighting terrorists who claim it is their rights to be killing others in Nigeria.
The CBCN President said, “When the CBCN sent a letter commending President Jonathan on the stand against same-sex union or “marriage”, we did so to uphold the age-long biblical and traditional morality of our people that marriage has always been a union between a man and a woman.
“Same-sex unions or so called marriages are alien to us and we resist the idea but we will always extend compassion of Christ to men and women with a biological orientation that is gay or lesbian and defend their rights just as we have consistently defended the rights of all persons discriminated against. It is a mischievous and faulty generalisation to reason that because we resist same-sex marriage we differ from our Pope who has said, ‘if a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?’ our compassion for the weak, the marginalised and those who suffer discrimination is unwavering and uncompromising. We minister to all. Those individuals, pressure groups and governments from abroad who are very anxious to fight for the rights of gays in Nigeria should first help us deal with the menacing activities of terrorists who claim that it is their right to kill and destroy, and have caused so many deaths of innocent Nigerians.
“We stand for the promotion and protection of human rights which are consistent with out religious and cultural values. Legalizing same sex-marriage will only open the flood gates to so many moral issues that can seriously compromise our African culture and becloud our evangelization efforts in Nigeria. We know too well what the consequences could be. Nigerians Catholics do not hate men and women who are of biologicall gay orientation, but strongly affirm that gay unions or marriages are simply not in conformity with our Christian theology or traditional Nigerian morality”.