Northern States chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has expressed some fears about the national dialogue, saying that the conference would end in vain if it failed to address minority issue in the country.
The Executive Secretary of Northern CAN, Professor Daniel Babayi told Saturday Sun in an interview that there was a minority commission put in place during the British rule where ethnic minorities had their problems, particularly conflicts, addressed up to the time the colonial masters left the Nigerian shores.
Babayi regretted that successive governments jettisoned the commission, saying that it was now an opportunity for Nigerians to revisit the issue and revive the commission at the national conference.
The Professor of Theology noted that the various conflicts in different parts of the country, particularly in the North was as a result of absence of the commission, adding that governments at all levels are duty bound to provide good governance to the people.
He said aside the CAN’s agitation for a minority commission, it would also take a position on some other national issues and present to the committee on the national conference when it begins sitting.
His words, “You see, the British, in their own wisdom when they were withdrawing from the country ensured that a minority commission was put in place to address the issue of minority, especially in the North, but of course, now we have completely jettisoned that idea, nobody is even talking about the issue of minority commission any more.
“We have rubbished it, and for doing so you will see that we will continue to overlook the need of minority, and because of that we will continue to have conflict because the minority commission was put in place to help reduce areas of conflict. Now that we have removed it, we have compounded our own conflict situation.
“To start with, there are ethnic groups who think that they are minority, in fact they are minority. Apart from the ethnic groups, women are in a minority in a sense, children are in a minority in a sense, you can go on and begin to categorize various minority groups. So every time we talk about minority commission, we only think of ethnic groups, but the commission that addresses minority issues looks far beyond ethnic enclaves because there are other social groupings too that can be regarded as minority.
“We just want to call on the federal government and the state governments to revisit the issue of minority commission at the federal and state levels.
Such commission is very needed now in order to reduce the areas of conflict. Remember that we cannot set out to establish a utopia society, but we can allow the existence of such minority commission to address issues and reduce areas of conflict.
“As far as we are concerned in Northern CAN, we don’t believe that there is any aspect of governance in Nigeria that should be excluded from this national conference. So minority commission is one issue that should be discussed there, and we are calling on the committee in charge to revisit the issue of the commission.
“We are waiting for the national conference committee to come up with a modality, and when they come up with that modality, we are always ever ready to contribute, and we have set up a dialogue sub-committee to work on some of these issues and come up with a position paper for Northern CAN.