The National Christians Elders Forum (NCEF) has raised the alarm over attempts to disenfranchise Christians in the north from exercising their civic rights during the forthcoming general elections through the non-issuance of voter’s cards to many Christians in the region.
The forum made this known yesterday in a communique, which was signed by chairman of the forum, Mr Solomon Asemota, chairman of plenary session, Lt. Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (Rtd) and secretary of the forum, Pastor Bosun Emmanuel, after a two-day retreat in Abuja.
According to the NCEF, the destructive attacks of Islamist insurgents on Christian communities in the north have created a massive population of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria (IDPs) and this group of people may likely be unable to vote in the forthcoming elections.
They acknowledged that the Nigerian military has been sacrificial and has demonstrated commitment to defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria, and therefore resolved that the unity of the Nigerian nation is non-negotiable.
While stating that integration and reconciliation must take place in order to strengthen the unity of the nation, the forum called on government to take immediate steps to promulgate a new constitution based on the recommendations of the national conference that would be subject to a referendum and would comply with the original ideology of the nation.
It further noted with satisfaction that all attempts by Boko Haram to provoke the country into an all-out war have not succeeded and commended President Jonathan’s refined approach in handling the situation.
“The current level of corruption in the nation which commenced under previous administrations, is unacceptable and every effort must be made to eradicate this menace.
“Recklessness and impunity with which Boko Haram Islamic insurgents and Fulani herdsmen are killing Nigerians and causing massive devastation in the nation are deplorable and all actions, human and material resources, must be channeled to stamp it out.
“That the national intelligence service should be restructured to meet the demands of a liberal and democratic country. Recommendations of the national conference should be implemented to the letter”, they stated.
The forum also recommended that teaching of history lessons should be restored in schools, adding moral lessons should be taught in schools to stem the trend of moral decadence in the society.
“Future national census should henceforth, reflect both religion and ethnicity. Creation of jobs for our teeming youths and hence reduction of poverty in the nation must be the priority at this time.
“Ranches should be operated in the states of origin of nomadic cattle rearers to put an end to fatal clashes between farmers and cattle rearers.
“Government should ensure that all Nigerians, irrespective of religion or ethnicity, receive the voter’s card and sufficient protection to exercise their civic responsibility.
“In view of the senseless killing of members of the NYSC and many other innocent Nigerians after the 2011 national elections, adequate security must be guaranteed before, during, and after the coming elections.
“Government should also ensure that internally displaced persons (IDPs) receive sufficient opportunity to vote at wherever is their present location in the country. All politicians must play politics according to the rule of law and we urge Nigerians to vote wisely”, NCEF concluded.