Constitution Review: JFI Seeks Establishment Of Judaism Pilgrims Board
The Jewish Community in Nigeria on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to establish Institute of Judaism Pilgrim Board take care of spiritual needs of no fewer than six million members in Nigeria.
Chief Arthur-Regis Odidika, National President of Judaism Fellowship Initiative of Nigeria (JFI) made the call in Enugu at the public hearing on the proposed alterations of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Odidika also appealed to the National Assembly to alter the 1999 Constitution as amended to stop electoral matters from being held on Saturdays.
He said the conduct of Population Census should not be held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays which were known worship days for major religions in Nigeria.
He posited that no fewer than 20 million Nigerians including the Jews, the Nigerian Sabbath Keepers and the Seventh-day Adventist Church were denied their right to freedom of Sabbath Worship due to political activities on Saturdays.
According to him, religion being a sensitive matter needed to be given special and equal recognition in national matters, adding that national activities ought to be removed from known worship days.
“These groups have been ignominiously neglected, excluded and disenfranchised in the political scheme of things in Nigeria.
“The Jewish Community in Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to establish the Judaism Pilgrims Board and recognise our three specified pilgrimage festival days as public holidays.
“Chapter IV, Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that all religions in Nigeria are equally recognised and should be accorded equal respect and attention.
“We, therefore, demand that elections, government examinations and interviews and environmental sanitations be moved away from Saturdays to any other day between Monday and Thursday,” he said.
Odidika said that it was sad that in spite the aforementioned provision of the constitution, some religious groups were adversely affected by certain government policies.
“Saturday is our sacrosanct day of worship but elections are fixed on this day. When elections and other national activities are fixed on this day, it simply means we should not partake.
He urged the NASS to amend the constitution such that religious organisations as institutions of moral education would be funded by government.
“Distribution of public funds must be made to equitably go round, reaching and touching all interest areas and public needs with principal focus on all citizens’ welfare.
“Prominent groups, organisations and associations that have concerns and functions which impact on national development should be supported with revenue allocation,” he said.
He added that the government needed to ensure that all recognised religions in Nigeria had their central worship places in the Federal Capital Territory and state capitals.