Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Tuesday, called on the Federal Government to ban all ethno-religious groups in Nigeria in order to reduce insecurity in the country.
The apex bank Governor gave this suggestion at an inter-faith dinner organized by the Northern Reawakening Forum (NRF) in Abuja, yesterday.
According to him: “I almost didn’t want to attend this occasion because I am opposed to regional, ethnic and religious groupings in this country. In fact, I would like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Jamatul Nasril Islam (JNI) , Afenifere and all such other groups to be banned.”
He lamented that despite the fact that the Northern region’s land mass constitutes about 60 per cent of the Nigerian land mass and agriculture contributes 42 per cent to the Nigerian economy, the region remained poor.
Sanusi attributed the Northern crisis to the selfishness of the nation’s leadership which had failed to create social amenities for the citizens.
However, Sanusi’s call has since stirred heavy dust among the groups who have described his assertion as irresponsible and unreasonable.
Reacting, elder statesman and former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh and one-time Permanent Secretary, Ahmed Joda flayed Sanusi, noting that there are other ways to tackle poverty and insecurity in the North rather than banning religious groups.
According to Ogbeh past Northern leaders laid the foundation for a peaceful region by accommodating people of all religious beliefs.
He said: “A former Sultan of Sokoto named Saddiq had a Christian Igbo cook and the late Ahmadu Bello had a Christian doctor.”
The Idoma-born ACN chieftain noted that Shehu Malami, a prominent Northern Muslim cleric offered him accommodation in Abuja after he escaped assassination in 1998.
He affirmed that the on-going ‘war’ in the Northern part of the country was a fall-out of economic failure in the region, saying that he had predicted that the situation would degenerate to the present level over a decade ago.
Leader of the Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, has described Sanusi’s call as a huge joke, saying that banning the ethno-religious groups would not in any way bring the situation under control.
His words: “That is a big joke. We (Afenifere) are not given to violence. We want unity and progress. He is shooting the wrong target. We want progress and improved welfare for our people. They know where the problem of insecurity is coming from. They should tackle Boko Haram. They should talk to their leaders to put their people in check. I n Afenifere, we generate ideas for the society to become vibrant. We don’t preach violence.”
Also reacting, the outgoing Ohanaeze Ndigbo National Secretary, Chief Nduka Eya, said that Sanusi had not point.
His words: “What is wrong with Nigeria is that everybody has a solution to Nigeria’s problems. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Sanusi does not deserve our response because his comment is frivolous. How can they ban CAN, Ohanaeze, Afenifere, etc? Nobody is going to respond to the nonsense he is talking about.”
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged the Federal Government to call Sanusi to order, saying that his comment was unethical.
Secretary-General of CAN, Rev Musa Asake, said: “CAN is not the cause of trouble or insecurity in this country. CAN was formed to protect the interests of Christians, especially in fighting persecution. CAN is not a government institution like NEMA, which any person can wake up and disband. The 1999 Constitution guarantees freedom of association and Sanusi cannot just wake up and call on anybody to proscribe it. Sanusi has been making several controversial statements and as a CBN governor, he should not make controversial pronouncements like this one. It is this type of statement that causes problems, not CAN as an institution. It is unfortunate that at a time like this, when Christians are being killed and churches burnt he is making this type of insensitive comment. CAN and JNI have come to stay. We have no quarrels and nobody can curtail CAN’s freedom of association as guaranteed by the constitution.” .
In their separate reactions, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) all cautioned Sanusi to watch his utterances, affirming that Nigerians should pray that somebody like Sanusi should not emerge as the president of the country, hence he would turn the country upside down.