Bill Seeking to Regulate Nigeria’s Seminary Programs “unnecessary, impracticable”: Bishops

Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). Credit: CBCN

Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) have expressed their reservations about a bill that seeks to regulate Christian education in the country, including what is taught in Seminaries and in other Christian Theological Institutions.

The Bill seeks to establish a National Council for Christian Education, which will develop, approve and regulate syllabuses at all levels of Christian education in the West African nation.

The Bill proposes that the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Council, as well as nine other members of the board be appointed by the President of Nigeria from the five blocs of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in rotational and alphabetical order.

According to the Catholic Bishops, the bill is “unnecessary and impracticable” and it may not serve Nigeria’s diverse doctrinal differences.

Additionally, CBCN members say in a statement shared with ACI Africa on Wednesday, June 28, top officials of the council who are to be appointed by the head of State may not serve the interests of Christians in Nigeria.


The idea of pursuing a bill to regulate religious studies in secular schools came up during the Education summit organized in 2019 by the Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria (ACSN), a body of mostly Pentecostal private school owners and some protestant denominations.

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria note that the Bill, as it was originally presented, was “neither intended to regulate theological concerns nor to have anything to do with theological institutions.”

“At some point, certain elements were added to the Bill, which certainly are not in the interest of the Church,” they say. 

The Catholic Bishops add, “The Bill … calls for the accreditation of the programmes of Christian institutes of theological learning. No exemption was made for seminaries and other religious institutes owned by the various Christian denominations.”

According to the CBCN members, the Bill will infringe on the rights of the various Christian denominations to provide instructions and formation according to their respective doctrines.

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They say that the Bill is incompatible with the secular character of the Nigerian States as enshrined in the country’s constitution.

The Catholic Church leaders oppose the Bill that seeks the power to control the teaching of Christian doctrines, and explain, “As such, the Bill ignores the fundamental differences between Nigeria's over one thousand Christian denominations.”

“CAN itself has five Blocs. How can we have one ‘Christian Education’ regulated by the proposed Board?” they pose.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops have called upon CAN, which has already expressed support of the Bill, to undertake a proper needs assessment to determine the needs of Christians in Nigeria that they say would require the support of the Government.

According to the Catholic Bishops, a Council for Christian Education to regulate Christianity in Nigeria is not a priority for a country that is experiencing a myriad of challenges.


They say that asking a board simply because Muslims have one is counterproductive, and add, “It is imperative to revisit and properly examine CAN's original purpose as opposed to what is expressed in the Bill presented at the National Assembly.”

The Catholic Bishops urge the Christian body to explore the possibility of going for a Bill that addresses challenges such as unprovoked attacks meted against Christians in most parts of the country.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.