The Centre for Cultural and Religious Rights, (CECURR) has added its voice to the scathing criticisms that have greeted the Federal government’s decision to ‘subsidize’ the dollar for the annual Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

The National Coordinator of CECURR, Mr. Debo Adeniran, speaking against the background of the government’s decision to peg the rate of the naira to dollar at N197 per dollar said, “It is indeed certain that circumspection and crucial consideration for the current state of the economy were thrown out of the windows when the apparently illogical and contradictory position was taken.”
“If there had been circumspection, the government would have
prioritized the biting needs of the country beyond the narrow and personal interests, given the present economic recession in the country. The thought process that led the step is seriously illogical and smacks of insensitivity on the side of the government to the priorities and real needs of the vast majority, who mostly live in penury.”
Noting that the government previously had pledged to stop sponsoring Pilgrimages and religious activities, Adeniran said, “apart from lacking circumspection and rationale, the step contradicts the ‘change’ mantra upon which the present regime rode to power. Certainly, a total fulfillment of separating religion from State/Public Affairs would have conformed to the change Nigerians expected from the ‘change’ the regime promised during campaigns.”
“As a matter of fact, the ideal situation should be that persons or groups going on religious pilgrimages must sponsor themselves instead of waiting for the government for any concessions. CECURR’s position on what the nature of Government – Religion relationship should be, is that, government must not be involved in any religious affair beyond what is constitutionally required of it; just like all other Nigerian social formations and individuals, no particular group or persons should be given special preferences at the expense of others.”
Adeniran questioned the manner of secularism being practised in Nigeria, asking, “is Nigeria a secular state at all? If it is, we need to ask, which kind? The kind that favours sponsoring the activities of two dominant religions at the expense of several others? Implicit in Secularism is the exclusion of religion from public affairs; that religion and religious bodies should have no part in political or civic affairs or in running public institutions, but it has always been practiced in its reverse in Nigeria.”
“This is the fundamental question behind the present public outcry against the decision of the government to keep getting involved in the financing of religious activities. Politicians only use such unconstitutional interferences in religious activities to achieve their insatiable greed and lust for power on one hand to perpetrate and perpetuate their corrupt practices on the other.”
In concluding, the CECURR leader said, “we call on the government to at all times restrain itself from meddling in religious concerns. For our country to truly achieve the harmony it deserves we act decisively to avoid contradictions like the present one rearing their head, we cannot afford to continue to ignore or reject our reality.”
“Significantly, with the present economic recession; the free-fall in the prices of crude oil and the continual fall of the naira against the dollar, the dialectic step expected of government is to take drastic steps to revamp the economy. It would have made more economic sense if it were the Manufacturers and other actors on the economic scene that were granted concessions as this would facilitate their access to raw materials and will go a long way in mitigating the present crisis. It is only within a buoyant and healthy economic situation that almost all other activities of citizens can be best carried out with the lowest level of frictions.”
“The present regime has the golden opportunity to correct the aberration of the past; it can write its name in history in gold if it demonstrates political will by halting the interference of government in religious affairs beyond its constitutional responsibility.”
Wale Salami
Media Coordinator, CECURR
August 10, 2016
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