Nigeria’s Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has attacked Christian leaders for claiming the President Muhammadu Buhari and Islamic pressure groups, including Jihadists, are trying to Islamize Nigeria.
He aimed his words at the Christian Association of Nigera (CAN) in an outburst in Lagos last week (27 October) during the Greater Nigeria Pastor’s Conference. He said: “We focus our minds on something we call the Islamic agenda. We look for it everywhere as if we are looking for demons.” And said, “Part of the problem is the failure of Christian leadership to take its rightful place.”
Osinbajo, who is a church elder with the Redeemed People’s Church of God, chided Christian leaders, asking if there is an Islamic agenda then “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,” he said.
The debate about a clandestine effort to bring in an Islamic Sukuk bond and drive the nation into being a part of the global Islamic community, has long been resented by Christian leaders. They point to the evidence of former President Badamasi Babangida who pushed the country into membership of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).
But the Vice President refuted these claims: “The Sukuk is an Islamic concept, 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?
“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 former Nigeria’s Finance minister who is a Christian) Osinbajo said. “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.”
“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,” declared the Vice president said.
President of CAN, Rev Dr Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, urged Osinbajo to cross check his facts well before making public statements on such delicate matters.
The Association said the vice president had “avowed resolve to douse religious tension in Nigeria and win the heart of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari” and such statements are inimical to such resolve.
Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Ayokunle said most Christian leaders in Nigeria were taken aback by the Vice President’s remarks and strongly believed evidence which pointed to the fact that the present government was seeking to Islamise Nigeria.
The CAN President said “The OIC met in London in 1983 with a follow up meeting in Nigeria in 1989 and had issued a communiqué to Islamize Africa with Nigeria capturing a great attention. This is a public knowledge while facts could be obtained from Wikipedia with links on OIC’s Conference in London, 1983 and Abuja Declaration of 1989.
“It is also a matter of fact that Nigeria was later made an observer member of the body (OIC) through General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. Under General Sani Abacha, another Muslim leader, Nigeria was made full member in total violation of the constitution that the nation is secular and our government should not be religiously
He pointed to continued efforts to draw Nigeria into other Islamic organisations. He added: “We are not opposed to Islamic evangelism by any Muslim group if done with a peaceful motive. The Christians also exercise their constitutional rights to do so through revivals and gospel rallies. But we are opposed to our government shifting attention to Islamic resolutions of Islamization by making Nigeria, a non-Islamic Republic a member of Islamic Organizations. It is a tacit support for Islamization. Let our VP, who is a constitutional lawyer, address that and do something about it,” said Ayokunle.
He argued that the adoption of the Sukkuk bond – a financial system compliant with Islamic sharia law – was a non-constitutional measure.
“We love Nigeria and we are shouting that government must do something to constant attacks of Christians and predominantly Christian communities all over the nation. Why has this government not arrested the murderous herdsmen killing and maiming people in communities? Why didn’t the VP address this? The nation deserves more from him,” declared the CAN president.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of Anglican Diocese of Jos.
Image Credits: CC: Google images/Osinbajo/CAN President