By Kemi Kasumu
Some notable Muslim leaders in Nigeria, in their responses to media report of Nigerian Christian Elders’ Forum (NCEF) reporting President Muhammadu Buhari to United Kingdom Parliament as fulanising and Islamising Nigeria, have described claim by the Christian elders as fictitious and must be discountenanced.
Speaking separately in telephone interviews jointly conducted by two media organisations including The DEFENDER on Thursday were Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Professor Daud Noibi, Professor of Law and renowned Islamic scholar, Professor Abdul-Razaq Abdul-Majeed Alaro, and Director and Founder of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola.
In his own statement, Professor Noibi said: “My response is that the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) regard allegation of this nation as being unfortunate because it is baseless and unpatriotic. And this is so because we have not seen anything President Muhammadu Buhari has done that is tilting towards Muslims alone or the Fulani but we have seen a visionary leader that has set development for the various groups in the country.
“Unfortunately, this allegation came from a group that regards itself as group of religious leaders but my appeal to Nigerians Muslims and Christians is to discountenance the allegation and I believe that British Government will discountenance it. Knowing full well that British Government is balanced about matters across the world, they will not attach importance to the claim of the Nigerian Christians Elders’ Forum.”
Taking a swipe at the Christian elders’ Forum, Professor Alaro, a lawyer, said: “Reacting directly to those elders reporting Nigeria to the foreign communities, I think we should remind ourselves that Nigeria is a sovereign state and that is clearly stated in our constitution. In section 2 sub one of the constitution it is categorically stated that Nigeria a sovereign state. I don’t know what wisdom they will claim to be behind reporting a sovereign nation to another sovereign nation. Nigeria is no more a colonised entity of Britain and so I think I will fault the action on that ground as well.
“It is very unfortunate that elders are supposed to douse tension not to heat up the polity. And I believe the act is very wrong. You cannot report a sovereign state to another sovereign entity. But I think the summary of it all is for us to be realistic as Nigerians. We shouldn’t expect any nation in the world to preoccupy itself with our problems, unless we are deceiving ourselves. Even if we have problems, we should look for ways of solving our problems within ourselves. So, taking Nigeria outside on that ground we are ridiculing ourselves.
Today whether you like it or not, Mr. President is the first citizen of the country and he represents us. Whatever respect we accord him, whatever disrespect or contempt we give to him is equally given to us as Nigerians. So, I don’t think it is wise enough for us to think of solving Nigerian problem by taking it to foreign country because, like I said, Nigeria is a sovereign entity.
I think whatever is happening, if you look at those characters that you mentioned; former President, former Chief of Army Staff, you would know these are people that had wielded a lot of influence in the past. I would therefore appeal to them as elders that they must know more than whatever we know younger generations. It is a common phenomenon if you have power today, you may lose it tomorrow.
“So, because you have lost something, Nigeria and Nigerians must be victims of your loss of power, of your loss of influence. I am appealing to them, they should try and bequeath a peaceful nation to us, especially the youth, and I think I represent that age bracket. For better or for worse, we are the most affected. So I want to appeal to them to bequeath to us a peaceful nation and I am appealing to Nigerians of my age bracket that, look, let’s face it squarely, we don’t have other country and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves by thinking that another country will preoccupy itself with our problems and so we have to look inward for solutions to our problems.
“This issue of Islamisation has been here on and on and nobody has been able to prove it. And it is even an abstract idea to me to say that a President or government can Islamise or Christianise the whole nation. I isn’t possible but it is unfortunate, like I said, and I appeal to us not to be gullible as to being misled into confronting each other because, like I said, all of these are coming up because of some people who have had some advantages in the past and have now lost those advantages. We shouldn’t be victims of that,” Alaro said dismissed NCEF.
MURIC leader, Akintola, in his response dismissed the Christian Elders’ Forum as pack of liars for saying President Buhari has done nothing to stop Boko Haram insurgency noting that under Muhammadu Buhari, since 2015, Boko Haram “has moved from daily bombing, then to weekly, then to monthly and even now we hear nothing of bombing again. Because Buhari came Boko Haram occupied 27 Local Governments in the North East and today, no single Local Government is occupied by Boko Haram.”
Akintola therefore wondered what the moral justification for NCEF’ claim if not, according to him, that they are simply the liars that they are.