By Israel Bulus, Kaduna-
A group, under the umbrella body of Pastors United Change Association (PUCA) has called on all citizens of Kaduna State and Christians in particular to support Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s bill to regulates religious preaching for the purpose peaceful coexistence among the citizens.
The Association, in a statement issued in Kaduna and signed by the National Chairman and National Organizing Secretary, Apostle David Adeniran and Pastor Ayokunle Adebayo, stated that government action may not be unconnected with the kind of messages being preached by various religious leaders in the state.
“In the light of the passage of the bill regulating religious preaching in Kaduna State on Friday 7th of June, 2019, by the Kaduna State House of Assembly and the expected controversies generated since then, PUCA, conveyed an Emergency Executive meeting on Saturday the 8th of June,2019 to take a wholistic look at the bill.
“When we consider how volatile issues of religion have become in Kaduna State and Nigeria as a Nation, we believe that it is not unconnected to the kind of messages being preached by various religious leaders.
“Therefore, there is a need for some form of regulation to address the problems of erroneous teachings, incitement, use of derogatory language, disturbance of religious activities, desecration of places of worship and other vices that can disturb public peace and lead to breakdown of Law and order.
“At the meeting, the content of the bill was thoroughly scrutinized and analysed. While we commend the Government for reviewing and amending the 1984 law to address the present day realities that threaten peaceful coexistence,some aspects of the bill raised some issues of concern that require explanations and further illumination.
“We are aware that many interest groups have been expressing different views and opinions about the bill, but we want to implore the citizens and leaders of various religious groups to exercise caution in their reaction. Since the bill is yet to be assented to by the Governor of Kaduna State,we need to be patient and exercise caution and restraint in expressing our views for or against the bill”, it stated.
The statement further read that “as an association, we are aware that Mallam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai is a leader that runs an inclusive government that consults far and wide before taking major decisions that affect the citizens and residents of Kaduna State.
“Therefore, we resolved to reach out to the Government about the bill and the response has been very encouraging.
“We suggested the need to have constructive engagements with various interest groups on the issue and we are glad to state that on Monday 10th of June,2019 at the instance of the Governor, various interactive meetings were held with leaders and representatives of various religious, professional and media organizations to explain the rationale behind the bill and to listen to their views on the content of the bill and the modalities of it’s implementation.
“Our Association, was one of the groups that met with top Government Officials and we raised some issues of concern and Gray areas that need more light to be shed on.
“We were assured that the Government will consider those views and concerns and where necessary amendments will be made and the bill will be sent back to the State House of Assembly for reconsideration.
“The highpoint of our Emergency Executive meeting and interaction with Kaduna State Government officials is on the need for the Government to Immediately have wider consultations with all interest groups in order to ensure that residents are properly informed about the content and mode of implementing the bill.
“We believe that this will help to checkmate the activities of Political mischief makers who will want to misinform the public and sow seeds of discord in the minds of citizens against the good intentions of the Government.
“Finally, from what we have been told by the Government, we were assured that this bill is not targeted at any particular religion so there is no need for anxiety. Citizens and residents are therefore encouraged to disregard all forms of negative propaganda and be objective in their analysis of the bill in the overall interest of Kaduna State.
“As stated in our Holy books, we encourage all Muslim and Christian Faithfuls to continue to pray for our Governor Mallam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai ,asking God to give him and his team wisdom and understanding to lead Kaduna State along the path of peace,harmony, progress and development”, they stated.
“The PUCA uses this opportunity to pledge our continued support for the Government of Mallam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai and we encourage all citizens and Christians in particular to support the Government in the overall interest of Kaduna State,” the association stated.