By Amos Tauna
The new chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Kaduna state chapter in northern Nigeria, Rev. John Joseph Hayab said he is ready to go to prison by saying the truth against any government policy that is unacceptable to the general public.
In an acceptance speech after taking the oath of office as the new CAN chairman in the state, Rev. John Joseph Hayab said, “I commit to being courageous in speaking out the concerns of the Christian community. So, l undertake to pursue, without fear or favour, the freedom of religion and worship guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution and the United Nation’s Charter.”
Rev. Hayab added, “Any leader that feels the Christians in the state are against him is an ingrate. Southern Kaduna elected the present administration in the state in 2015 and so is a major stakeholder in the state.
“God Almighty will definitely expose those who are causing disaffection between Christians and Muslims in the state. Instead of bringing the people together, they are the ones causing division in the state.”
He explained, “l will intensify dialogue with our Muslim counterpart to build mutual trust, peace and religious harmony, and seek for fairness, justice and equity as key components for any meaningful development in the state.
“CAN will work with noble Muslims to ensure that no leader in our state or at the federal level exploits our religious differences to cause division among the citizenry.
“As Article 38 of the constitution of Nigeria on Freedom of Religion states that every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship. CAN Kaduna state shall uphold and demand freedom of religion.
“Just as UN’s declaration attests that the disregard and infringement of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or whatever belief, have brought, directly or indirectly, wars and great suffering to mankind, especially where religion is engaged to promote sectionalism generating acrimony, l shall not relent in bringing to the awareness of the Nigerians and the international community and act of government or any institution which infringes the rights of Christians in the state.”
Rev. Hayab added, “Accordingly, as stakeholders in the state, CAN will liaise with government and its agencies, but, above all, will speak ‘truth to power’ when the leaders do what is not acceptable by the general public.
“While aware of my fundamental human rights as a citizen to freedom of choice and l am positive that it ought to be respected, l will not lead CAN Kaduna state into any form of partnership. As an organisation, CAN is concerned about what happens in our land, therefore, will sensitise our people on the danger of supporting or voting to power political candidates with divisive tendencies.
“As CAN, we do not belong to any particular political party but affirm that as political parties field in candidates for elections, they must allow the eligible voter the choice to make.
“Accordingly, CAN reminds government and its agencies at all levels that the principles of equity and fairness are none negotiable for a peaceable Society.”