As part of reactions that have greeted the bill currently before the Kaduna State House of Assembly which calls for religious leaders to obtain preaching licences, clerics have expressed the desire to support the bill, albeit with conditions.
The Most Reverend Kehinde Stephen of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Ibadan Archdiocese, in an interview with Sunday Tribune, who stated that religious leaders have contributed to the rise in noise pollution, supported the legislation that would check such.
According to him, “It will surprise you that the only fear I have is the proper and fair implementation of such bill. People are concerned because in a place like Kaduna, where there are probably more Muslims than Christians, will more licenses not go to Muslims than Christians?
“The philosophy is not bad. The implementation is what carries a big question mark. I believe that it is better not to put it on the altar of legislation, but to encourage religious leaders to be self-restrained, and whoever falls foul of the law should be prosecuted, without recourse to partiality.”
The spiritual father of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church Movement Worldwide, Most Reverend Samuel Abidoye, in his reaction, appreciated the move by the Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, stating that “We should appreciate the governor for what he is trying to do, because this is how Boko Haram started and now it has become a national issue. The present military and Shi’ite crisis is a sign that the future might be dangerous.
“So, to avoid these problems, it is good the governor takes the step, but relevant stakeholders should have been contacted. That’s where I feel the governor got it wrong. I read the details of the proposed bill on the pages of newspapers.
“I understand that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama’atul Nasirul Islam (JNI) were contacted to liaise with Christians and Muslims respectively. But to be candid, I have never met the leadership of CAN. I can’t remember when I received any of the leaders of CAN.”
Noting that the C&S Movement Church worldwide has been in Kaduna for over 70 years, and boasts of about one million members, Abidoye advised the governor to “invite heads of all the churches as well as Muslim groups, including the Shi’ite and those who have their different gods. Then, we will discuss the content of the bill and the areas we feel should be amended. This is necessary, considering the fact that some of the churches conduct night prayers and vigils and the bill may affect their services. If the issue is not properly handled, many churches will have no choice but to relocate from the state. We are all stakeholders because, as I mentioned earlier, we have been in Kaduna for close to a century now. So we want Kaduna to stay. We want it to live for many years. If they force us to leave, we will not be happy.”