By Our Reporter
The Judaism Fellowship Initiative of Nigeria (JFI) has appealed to the National Assembly to alter the 1999 Constitution as amended to ensure that electoral matters are not held on Saturdays.
The President of the group, Chief Arthur-Regis Odidika made the appeal on Wednesday in Enugu during the public hearing on the proposed alterations of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Odidika also said that the conduct of Census should not hold on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays known to be the worship days for major religions in Nigeria.
said that the call had become necessary following the exclusion and disenfranchisement of no fewer than 20million Sabbath worshippers in politics on the basis of religion.
He named such groups to include the Jews, the Nigerian Sabbath Keepers and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
He said that 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.
“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,” he said.
He said that it was sad that in spite of the aforementioned provision of the constitution, some religious groups were adversely affected by certain government policies.
“These groups have been ignominiously neglected, excluded and disenfranchised in the political scheme of things in Nigeria.
“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.
“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.
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 said 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.
“The Federal Government should institute for us Judaism Pilgrims Board and recognise our three specified pilgrimage festival days as public holidays,” Odidika said.