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Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon: “Nigeria’s religious leaders should not seek political office”

Posted on: January 18, 2021 6:08 PM
Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon meets the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2017 at the start of his work as Chair of the Kaduna State Peace Commission.
Photo Credit: Office of the Nigerian Presidency

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has said that religious leaders in Nigeria should not seek political office in the country. Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Archbishop Emeritus of Kaduna, is Chair of the Kaduna State Peace Commission and made his comments in an interview with Leadership newspaper.

“For Nigeria to enjoy progress and develop, we must all fight against the negative use of religion and tribalism”, he said. “. . . My position has always been that Nigeria deserves the best leaders at every level and religion, ethnic, tribal profession or origin should be secondary.

“The consequence of this is that our constitution should not allow any particular religious or traditional leader to seek any political office at both national and state levels. A bishop, apostle, prophet or overseer already has a constituency and there is no reason to believe that such a person would not be biased in his or her administration.

“For the same reason, a sultan, oba, or emir should not aspire to contest for any political position at both the national or state levels.”

Asked about the state of the Church in Nigeria, and whether President Muhammadu Buhari wanted to Islamize the country, Dr Idowu-Fearon said: “I am not quite sure what you mean by church, however, if you mean as an organisation, there seems to be a regular growing number of various churches with different leaders who seem to be seeing different visions for politicians and wealthy people in Nigeria.

“A good number of these churches have become commercial centres where the leaders compete with our politicians in the cars they ride, the houses they live in and even their appearances in the church services.

“Unfortunately, the impact the churches are having on our national life is very minimal due to misplaced priorities. The prophetic voice, ‘Thus says the Lord’ is today missing and our pulpits have been turned into political platforms. For some of our members who are in search of political positions from the position of the president to the National Assembly!

“The question of President Buhari wanting to Islamise the country is not new, whenever there is a Muslim president, we hear this cry and should the president be a Christian, there is the accusation that the president is favouring Christian courses in the country.

“Personally, I do not believe there is any grand plan to either Islamise or Christianise Nigeria, it is the cry of the lack of fairness and the feeling of marginalisation by those in authority in our country. Until there is equity, respect for the individual irrespective of religion or tribe, we will always have to experience this cry of Islamising or Christianising the country by any president of the country or governor of any state.”

  • Click here to read the full interview in Leadership