Representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria from 19 northern states and Abuja on Thursday met with President Muhammadu Buhari and pleaded with him to wade into some of the challenges facing them.
The chairman of the organisation, Rev. Yakubu Pam, told State House correspondents that some of the issues they raised with the President included the difficulties they were facing in practising their faith, the herdsmen and farmers’ incessant clashes as well as children abduction and forced marriages.
On the herdsmen’s attacks, Pam said they asked Buhari to move fast and protect Nigerians who had returned to the farm as part of the Federal Government’s diversification programme.
The clergyman said they also called the attention of the President to the ugly development in the North where traditional rulers would abduct and forcibly marry underage girls.
He said, “We also talked on the issue of girl child abduction in the North. In some northern states, some young girls and children are being abducted at the age of 12 years and the parents will just hear that the girls have been married to traditional rulers and emirs.
“This is gathering a cloud of crisis already and if that is not taken care of, it will lead to a serious crisis. These are the issues we told the President.”
Pam said the delegation also commended the present administration’s fight against corruption and insurgency as well as the recent release of some of the girls abducted in their school in Chibok in 2014.
He described the President’s response to their requests as positive, saying he promised to look into them.
In a statement later issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President was quoted as promising the CAN delegation that he would keep faith with the oath of office he swore and treat all Nigerians equally.
He was also said to have promised to restore peace to all parts of the country.
“Restoring peace is top priority. We will enable the law enforcement agencies to combat all forms of violent crimes, and ensure that our people live in peace,” he said.
The President urged the clerics to promote religious harmony, by “enhancing understanding among different faith.”
He also disclosed that the government would maintain the priority it had placed on agriculture and mines and steel development to revive the economy.
Adesina also quoted Pam as saying that it was not a mistake that God chose Buhari to lead the country at these challenging times.
“We are ready to support your administration to deliver good governance. You have good intentions for Nigeria, judging from the programmes that have been outlined,” he quoted Pam as saying.
He said the clergyman also highlighted ethno-religious challenges in the country, freedom of worship, and herdsmen/farmers’ clashes in his discussion with the President.