The strangest claim by CAN (who does their research?) is that President Buhari made lopsided appointments in favour of Muslims since he took office. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Let us look at the true state of things below:
The total number of President Buhari’s appointments to date: 157
Appointments by Geopolitical zones:
Appointees by religion:
Muslims (Identifiable by Muslim names): 65
Christians (Identifiable by Christian names): 92
On further inspection, the appointees per zone are as follows:
1. North Central: Muslims 13 Christians 8
2. North East: Muslims 17 Christians 7
3. North West: Muslims 30 Christians 0
4. South West: Muslims 7 Christians 35
5. South East: Muslims 0 Christians 22
6. South-South: Muslims 0 Christians 20
If you look at the figures, you realise that the complaint should have been coming from the Muslims and not CAN. If the charge is that the Christians hold less important positions, consider two things:
1. What does CAN mean by less important positions? 2. Who held those positions during the last administration?
Let us start with what many consider to be the most important positions:
President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker, Chief Justice, Attorney General, Chief of Defense Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, IGP, the Heads of Immigration, Customs, DSS, Civil Defense, CBN Governor, EFCC Chairman, ICPC Chairman, FIRS DG, GMD of the NNPC, National Security Adviser etc.
The first 6 positions are elective. The President chose a pastor as his Vice President. Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN is the second pastor President Buhari would be nominating as running mate. In the case of the first, Pastor Tunde Bakare, he unilaterally announced his name to the consternation of his handlers. The details can be found in Segun Adeniyi’s book, Against the Run of Play. The rest of these positions are as below:
Chief Justice (Christian, previously held by a Muslim), Attorney General (Muslim, previously held by a Muslim), Chief of Defence Staff (Christian, previously held by a Christian), Chief of Army Staff (Muslim, previously held by a Christian), Chief of Air Staff (Muslim, previously held by a Christian), Chief of Naval Staff (Christian, previously held by a Muslim), IGP (Muslim, previously held by a Christian), the Heads of Immigration (Muslim, previously held by a Christian), Customs (Muslim, previously held by a Muslim), DSS (Muslim, previously held by a Christian), Civil Defence (Muslim, previously held by a Christian), CBN Governor (Christian, previously held by a Muslim), EFCC Chairman (Muslim, previously held by a Muslim), ICPC Chairman (Muslim, previously held by a Christian), FIRS DG (Christian, previously held by a Christian), GMD of the NNPC (Muslim, previously held by a Christian), National Security Adviser (Muslim, previously held by a Muslim).
By the way, although I am aware that the drafters of our constitution include the principle of federal character in the laws of the land, I prefer merit over ethnic or religious consideration. The best man for the job should get it. This is the case in many parts of the world but Nigerians are still at the primitive level of thinking. This is why there is little or no progress in the country.
Dr. Khalid led Muslim delegation exhorted President Muhammad Buhari to fear Allah and do justice to all irrespective of their ethnic or religious inclinations. Even though they were cognisant of the imposition, on Muslims in Nigeria, of christian practices, like making Sunday work free, and christening of titles of the heads of academic institutions – Chancellor, Provost, Dean, Rector, etc. – according to church traditions, the Muslim leaders, in the spirit of national cohesion and tolerance, refrained from mentioning anything that will hamper mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.
The Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, addressed the charge of a clandestine plan to Islamise Nigeria during the Greater Nigeria Pastors Conference convened recently by Apostle Wale Adefarasin and Rev Abayomi Kasali in Lagos. He was responding to uproar from the Christian quarters over Nigeria’s subscription of N100 billion Sukuk (Islamic Bond) to be used for road construction and national development.
“Part of the problem” Osinbajo said, “is the failure of Christian leadership to take its rightful place. We focus our minds on something we call the Islamic agenda. We look for it everywhere as if we are looking for demons.
“But where is the Christian agenda. Are we not entitled to one? We are too divided as Christians to have an agenda. The key to the unity and progress of Nigeria is in the church.”
The Vice-President refuted the existence of ‘plans to Islamise Nigeria through the Sukuk bond or the country’s membership of the Islamic Development Bank.’
Osinbajo said ‘that apart from Nigeria, many nations of the world including the United States of America and the United Kingdom had also embraced the system as a result of its progressive nature.’
“The Sukuk is an Islamic concept”, he said “which enables people to have access to credit. It is essentially like a bond. The US, UK, China, South Africa have all used the Sukuk. Once there is money in the market, let us not get sentimental. The most important thing is for us to use those monies well.
“Some people say there are some hidden things in this arrangement and that one day somebody is going to take us over. Where? How will that happen? These are straightforward financial systems used all over the world. I don’t think it presents any real problem. It is a very progressive financial system.
“Nigeria became a member of the Islamic Development Bank in 2005 and the first person to sit as director of the bank was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The second person to sit as a director is the current Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, and both of them are Christians. So, when people talk about Islamic agenda, sometimes I am lost.
“The person who brought us into the bank is not a Fulani or Northerner, the person was a Christian, so why are we complaining? Nigeria is the fourth largest shareholder in the Islamic Bank. This wasn’t Buhari’s making. We must have facts before saying things. But above all, we must ask ourselves if being a member of the bank profits us or not.
“For me, I have no problem with this. We can use what we get there to develop our society. This is the most important for me.”
CAN should take up the gauntlet and respond to Mr. Falana’s challenge who spoke at the Strategic Dialogue Roundtable under the auspices of the Social Economic Rights and Accountability (SERAP), held in Lagos. The human rights lawyer was responding to the argument surrounding the Sukuk Bond offered by the Federal Government which CAN described as an attempt to Islamise Nigeria. Mr. Falana said religious leaders should not set Nigerians against themselves based on religion. “I challenge CAN”, he said, “to Christianise us by setting up interest-free banks…”
On the Organisation of Islamic Coorperation (OIC), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) will do better to ask former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowan (rtd) why he sent a Nigerian delegation, led by the late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi to the first 1969 meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) – as it was then called – held in Morocco; as well as former President Goodluck Ebele on his reasons for leading Nigeria’s contingent to ‘the OIC Islamic Summit in February 2013’. Their responses will not be far from advancing the economic interest of Nigeria wheresoever it may be and under any appellation. Whatever will benefit Nigeria economically and increase the lot of Nigerians finally should be encouraged.
Membership of Islamic or Christian international bodies does not negate any section of the Nigerian constitution as claimed by some Christians. The preamble of our constitution states that We are a Nation Under God. Therefore Nigeria is not a secular state, which means without a religion, but a multi-religious country.
When the CAN delegation requested the government of Muhammadu Buhari to ‘withdraw from all religious bodies’, a keen observer would realise that it is confined to withdrawing from Islamic bodies. Of course ‘All religious bodies’ was just a euphemism for the two Islamic bodies, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), to which the country belongs, as amplified by their choler against Sukuk Bonds, and their wailing over a phantom plan of Islamising Nigeria by the current administration.
The CAN president then waxed stronger on this issue by alleging that at the Islam in Africa Conference of the OIC held in Abuja in 1989, there was a communique called the Abuja Declaration, which among other things, seeks “to eradicate in all its forms and ramifications all non-Muslim religions. He stated that, “Almost all the steps to be taken to Islamise Nigeria have been completed through the subtle actions of our rulers who were and are Muslims. Our government has donated billions of naira into this Islamisation agenda,”. Does this sound like what a right thinking person would say? Not at all.
To be charitable to the CAN President, he must be getting his information from the cooked up 1990 document being circulated round by Christian bodies in Nigeria, claiming it was the 1989 Abuja Declaration (again, who does their research?). Even Professor Frans Wijsen (professor of World Christianity and Inter Religious Relations at Radboud University Nijmegen) regards it as a forgery because it does not correspond with declarations made at the conference. He was right.
The actual declaration was to the effect that Muslims should unite throughout Africa, the curricula at “various educational establishments” should conform to Muslim ideas, the education of women should be attended to, the teaching of Arabic should be encouraged, and Muslims should support economic relations with Islamic areas worldwide. It noted that Muslims in Africa had been deprived of rights to be governed under sharia law and they should strengthen their struggle to reinstate it. The Islam in Africa Organisation was formally established in July 1991, also in Abuja and it has stated its objectives. I attended the conference and no such declaration was either discussed or included in the communique.
Abubakr Siddeeq Muhammad,
Friday, November 24, 2017