By Charles Igwe
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has rejected a bill aiming to establish the National Council of Christian Education, citing concerns about its compatibility with Nigeria’s Constitution. The bishops argued that the proposed legislation infringes upon sections 10 and 42(3) of the constitution, which emphasize the secular nature of Nigeria.
Rather than supporting a bill that violates the country’s secular principles, the bishops called upon the Christian Association of Nigeria, the original proponent of the bill, to focus on enacting legislation that effectively addresses unprovoked attacks against Christians in the North and other pressing issues. Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, and Bishop Donatus Ogu, the Secretary, conveyed this decision in an official statement.
Sponsored by Hon. Rimamde Kwewum, Hon. Beni Lar, Hon. Yusuf Tajudeen, Hon. John Dyegh, Hon. Solomon Bob, and Hon. Benjamin Mzondu, the bill aimed to regulate and approve the curriculum for Christian education across all educational levels. It also intended to certify Christian religion education instructors at primary and secondary levels and authorize the content of Christian religious education in all schools, as well as government accreditation of Christian theological programs.
The bishops expressed their discontent with the bill, particularly due to its failure to exempt seminaries, theological faculties, and religious institutes owned by various Christian denominations throughout the country. They argued that such institutions have the right to provide instruction and formation in accordance with their respective doctrines, as protected by Section 42 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.