This post has already been read 210 times!
…Urges More Information, Awareness
The Founder and President of Apostolic Round Table (ART), a Non-Governmental Organisation frontliner in advocacy for good governance, Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi, has called on Christian bodies to imbibe the spirit of unity and understanding capable of facilitating prompt passage of the National Christian Education Bill currently undergoing reading at the National Assembly.
Akinyemi who also doubles as the Chairman of Board of Trustees and National Coordinator of Project Victory Call aka PVC-Naija, an NGO that charts a new course for new Nigeria, also noted that the recent open disagreement between Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Catholic Bishops of Nigeria when the latter were represented by Bishop Matthew Kukah at the Assembly during a sitting on the bill, was inimical and an impediment to its passage.
Bishop Kukah had represented the Catholic Bishops to present the interest and position of the Catholic Church on the bill.
Akinyemi made the call on Tuesday in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“The recent open controversy and disagreement between CAN and Catholic Bishops at the National Assembly over the bill was needless because it is in the corporate interest of a very important Christian endeavour,” Akinyemi said.
“It was so disappointing. How do you explain the disposition of the Catholic Bishops in the disagreement? Could it be that CAN didn’t follow up with their disagreement during the summit to clear their doubts and earn their trust? These are questions that CAN and the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria must answer,” Akinyemi said.
He expressed worries that there had been no much information on the rationale behind the bill and its relevance and veracity, hence the ongoing propaganda against it. He called for more awareness on the bill to facilitate its prompt passage.
Akinyemi also said a part of the propaganda was that despite that CAN, a Christian body, initiated the bill, Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, who are also a part of the Christian body, were opposed to it.
“This is a clear case of a house standing against itself,” he noted.
Akinyemi also expressed worries that the media hostility against the bill was also another albatross to it.
“The apprehension in the Christian circle that the bill is aimed at regulating churches and doctrines but not Christian education is a part of the media propaganda and misinformation about it. Stakeholders owe us a duty to clear the air on the bill because all these propaganda, misinformation, controversy and disagreement can not take us anywhere if the bill must see the light of the day,” he stressed.
He pointed out that inadequate information about the bill also opened the window of wrong reports being bandied about it by the media.
He urged adequate media involvement by stakeholders to galvanise the right information and awareness about the bill with a view to projecting it in the right perspective.
“We must engage media services when such projects are envisioned in the future to avoid such controversy that trails the bill,” Akinyemi said.
Still speaking on the implication of the disagreement over the bill, Akinyemi who is also the President of Voice of His Word Ministries (VWM) added: “With the level that the disagreement has gone, we can’t escape engaging a professional lobby service provider to handle the bill at the 10th Assembly if we hope to see the bill through as soon as possible.”
“Initially, I was on the side of the nay crowd as a result of media hostility against the bill. But I changed my negative views about it to positive after my privileged engagements with Dr Ekaette Ettang, the National President, Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria as well as Senator Binos Yaroe (Adamawa Central) who is one of the sponsors of the bill at the 9th Senate.”
Akinyemi therefore, called on stakeholders of the bill to set up a public dialogue with a view to getting more support that could give the bill the benefit of the doubt.
The ART boss also disclosed that Christian leaders, including heads of Christian associations, particularly CAN, PFN and the Christian Traditional Rulers had held a summit on Christianity and Christian Education Regulation summit in Abuja.
According to him, the focus of the summit was to clear the air on the suspicion by the public that the bill is intended to regulate the church, but to everyone’s chagrin, the Catholic Bishops still rose against it openly.
Akinyemi said Apostolic Round Table (ART) as well as Voice of His Word Ministries, both of which he is the founder and president, would contribute their own quota to the success of the bill.
“We have a committee that is studying the bill with the hope to make recommendations on how to get it better through the right processes before it is finally passed,” he said.
He, however, urged the Christian community to support the bill by reading it and asking questions to also make their recommendations.
“If we come on the same page, then we could contribute money and fund the process,” he noted.
While taking the NASS on the bill and its passage, Akinyemi said:
“What is sauce for the geese is sauce for the gander. If the Muslim demography has the Islamic Education Regulatory Bill with Government funding it without interference with the running of the council, then it is time the Christian schools were set free of government interference. This is what the National Assembly is being called upon to guarantee.”