The Association of Christian Theologians (ACTS) has asked the federal government to stop its annual sponsorship of holy pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem.
The religious group also insisted that the seemingly nice gesture was actually at variance with the spirit and letter of the Nigerian Constitution.
The ACTS made their opinion known through a communiqué issued on Wednesday, following its 15th year anniversary and National Theological Conference held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
In the communiqué signed by its National President, Prof. Kunle Macaulay, and National Secretary, Prof. Moses Ajayi, the association stated, “The ACTS advises that both the federal and state governments should respect the Constitution that states clearly that Nigeria is a secular state and as such, governments should stop promoting, supporting or initiating religious programmes.
“This particularly extends to the annual sponsorship of people to Mecca and Jerusalem with the tax payers’ money, whereas Nigeria, as a secular state, is not supposed to dabble into religious matters.
“In compliance with the Constitution, therefore, the pilgrims’ welfare boards should no longer be funded for the purpose of offsetting or subsidising the costs of pilgrimage to both Mecca and Jerusalem.”
The ACTS also noted that it was wrong on the part of the Bayelsa State Government to have used the state’s money to build a massive, non-denominational church cathedral and that, the Yobe State Government should also not have built Africa’s second largest mosque with the state’s money, as it did sometimes ago.
The body further lamented the growing poverty rate in the country, blaming it largely for the upsurge of criminal activities and various civil unrests across the country.
It thus advised, saying, “Governments should concentrate more on people-oriented programmes to bring to an end, the high level of poverty in the nation.”
Also, the theologians, in the communiqué, deplored “the constant harassment of theology schools’ operators over a so-called non-accreditation of their courses.”