The Christian Association of Nigeria has advised political leaders to learn to tolerate the criticism issued by citizens on government policies and programmes.
CAN also advised government not to gag the people or see those who speak about its failures as enemies to be intimidated, hounded down like preys and arrested.
CAN President, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, said this in a statement titled, ‘Political Leaders Should Learn to Tolerate Citizens’ Criticism of Policies and Programmes of Government.’
The statement read in part, “We congratulate Nigerians in advance as we are enthusiastically looking forward to the independence anniversary of our dear country.
“We note that today, our country faces myriads of challenges that pose existential threats to its unity, peace and progress, especially the unfortunate issue of national security and the leadership has been trying to find a lasting solution. We pray to God to grant us that victory that many Nigerians are desperately yearning for in Jesus’ name.
“On the heightened situation in the country with its attendant fear and tension, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) hereby admonishes those in political leadership of the nation to exercise caution in the way they treat observations of people and comments so as not to further plunge the nation into unnecessary crisis.
“We urge Nigerians to be modest and factual in their comments and respect those who are leading us by giving honour to whom honour is due; however, that does not erode their rights and freedom of expression by speaking the truth always to those they elected into power without fear.
“In the same vein, we urge the government not to gag the people or see those who speak about the failures of government as enemies to be intimidated, hounded down like preys and arrested. This will only worsen the situation by widening the divide and fan embers of passion.
“The Press must be allowed to exercise its constitutional freedom and right to disseminate information or spread news with strict adherence to ethics of the profession without any intimidation or whatsoever.
“It is being reported by the media recently that one Retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi has been invited by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) over comments he allegedly made on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily Breakfast programme last Wednesday.’ We thank God that it was a friendly chat as claimed by the Defence Headquarters.
“We urge the government to tolerate criticisms that are constructive as they would help in finding solutions to our problems, especially those that expose the ills in our society and the people behind our ordeals.
“This would help us get to the roots of our problems and solve them. We must promote peace, love and unity in all we say and do.
“We once again urge Nigerians to run away from spreading fake news because it is damaging and totally unhelpful.” PUNCH