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Nigerian Christians Threaten To Boycott 2016 National Census If Religion Is Not Included

CAN President, Ayo Oritsejafor
CAN President, Ayo Oritsejafor

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has threatened that Christians would boycott the 2016 population census and subsequent exercises if there is no provision for religion in the questionnaire.
In a statement today in Abuja, CAN General Secretary, Dr. Musa Asake said that the inclusion of religion in the census questionnaire is necessary to establish which religion has more adherents than the others in the country.
He was reacting the claim by the umbrella body of Nigerian Muslims, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), that the process of selecting delegates to the National Conference was not done with fair representation and will affect the credibility of its outcome.
Asake said: “the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), read with consternation the provocative and inciting statements by the Secretary General of the Jama’atul Nasril Islam, (JNI) Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu at a press conference in Kaduna recently.
“At a press conference, the JNI Secretary General claimed that the process of selecting participants to the National Conference was not done with fair representation which will affect the credibility of its outcome. That Muslems were cheated in the process in spite of having the largest population as revealed by many international agencies. Democracy, he said, is a game of numbers but it has not being respected, because Muslems constitute the majority in the country, Christians, who by all acceptable records are not more than 40% of the country’s population ironically constitutes 62% of the total delegates.” According to him, they find it disrespectful to Muslems that of the twenty delegates of the Federal Government, only six are Muslems, no Muslem is deemed fit to make the delegates of the Nigerian economic summit.”
CAN condemned what it called “the unprovoked defamation of Nigeria Christians by the Ja’amatu Nasril Islam (JNI) through its Secretary General.
“To assume or suggest, as it were, that Muslims are more than Christians in Nigeria as the basis for his argument when no census anchored on religion has been carried out is logically faulty. 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 Dr. 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.
“The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is 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%?
“If JNI at this point does not respond to this population issue, and produce their claimed sources, CAN will use alternative means to ascertain the fact of their publication, for we cannot continue to allow people like the JNI 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. Dr. Khalid’s ideas, thoughts and beliefs about the 40% Christian population and 62% 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.
“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 Secretary General 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!”


  1. Very well. That was the last straw that broke the camel's back! Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and NSCIA should insist that subsequent census questionnaires must include 'religion'. The entire census arrangement must have adequate representation of Nigerian Muslims at all levels to guard against any falsification and manipulation. If CAN needs census to acknowledge the superior population of Muslims in the country despite incontestable indices that are globally known, then this confirms why the organization's leaders always resorts to abusives and invectives – for example, the language of the CAN Secretary is not only unclerical, but devoid of all manner of civility expected of people who claim to be leaders of their people. Extreme vocality, grandstanding and threatening fire and brimstones has been the trade-in-stock of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), notwithstanding the courteous, generous, peaceful and fair manner the Muslim leaders have always treated them. The attitude of Muslim leaders which is geared towards ensuring peaceful and harmonious co-existence among all groups in the nation, must not be construed for weakness, but rather, we are only adhering to the teachings of our religion which orders fair treatment to all manner of people irrespective of how you feel about them.
    The Qur'an clearly warned that Muslims should not let the hatred of a people drag them to the perpetration of injustice' (aw kama Qala Ta'ala). Pray, let us know, since there are know census figures to confirm the Muslim population as charged by CAN, how did Jonathan's Government and CAN arrived at the 62% christian composition of the National Conference Delegates? Is it a case of wanton disregard to the rights of Muslims, bigotry or a sheer case of 'might is right', being in control of national resources? If Muslim leaders that have led this country in the past have committed such acts, only God knows what would have become of our country.
    The leadership of CAN should adhere to the true teachings of their religion and serve God sincerely, instead of preaching hatred to their congregations, promoting illegalities, bad governance and lack fairness to a major section of the citizenry, while literally heating the polity needlessly.

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