Immediate past President, Ebele Goodluck Jonathan has said that religious extremism and other forms of sectarian violence are unhealthy for the country.
He urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency give serious attention to and check issues dealing with religious fanaticism in the country.
Jonathan who made this call before the US House Sub-Committee on Africa Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations yesterday pointedly said that of all the “over 10 major incidences of ethnic and religious conflagration in the frontline state of Kaduna since 1079, there has only ever been one incidence where authorities took action, according to the law, to punish the culprits of the disturbances. This was in 1992, after the Zangon Kataf riots in which the official death toll was 300”
He said religion and other ethnic issues posed a great challenge to his administration, which decided him to set up the National Conference “with the mandate to look into the grey areas militating against the peace, progress and development of Nigeria”
Speaking under his capacity as Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathnan Foundation with the speech titled Challenges of Nigerian Christians and the Niger Delta Question, he said the restiveness in the area predates the discovery of oil and attributed it to “exploitation of God given resources” from which the people of the area “do not commensurately benefit…”
He faulted the role of interventionist agencies such as the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC and the current Niger Delta Development Commission, NDCC, for lack of policy continuity and rated the 13 per cent derivation fund better.
On religion, he recommended the setting up of “the Religious Equity Commission to enforce laws without fear of favor with the cooperation of religious leaders”
On the agitation in the Niger Delta, “the only option that will solve the agitation is true Fiscal Federalism as practiced in the United States from where we copied the Presidential mode of government”
He tasked the US government and peoples to be part of the moves by concerned Nigeria to restore peace for there to the progress in the country and by virtue of Nigeria’s continental influence, the West African sub-region