By Siddiq Oyelami, Niger
I read a statement published by Premium Times attributed to National Christian Elders Forum on authority of her chairman, Mr. Solomon Asemota refuting the words of Sultan of Sokoto on Nigeria being a ‘multi-religious state’ and not secular. The refutation, among other issues raised by Mr. Solomon Asemota, confirmed my thought that some elders find pleasure in confusing unwary youth. They avoid lying but do well in padding truth.
Nigeria being a secular state or not is an aged controversy. The people who supports its secularity generously put forward parts of constitution emphasising on no state religion, on the other hand the non-supporters quote many places where the constitution states one nation under God. The parties however justify their claims albeit complicated constitutional exegesis.
Undoubtedly, the old debate on Nigeria secularism has persisted on account of absence of a uniform definition of secularism itself. Be that as it may, the major religions in Nigeria are no such that leave God out of politics; our national worship centres, pilgrim packages and of course of clerics’ goodies plus our spiritual devotions at functions all manifest the ‘religiosity’ and not secularism of the Nigeria state.
In some sections of the claim of NCEF, the Sultan’s submission is interpreted as “Islam and Christianity are state religions until Islam dominates become de facto and de jure religion of Nigeria”. It is not new to see such misinterpretation of the words of the number one Nigerian Muslim by elders who invent and market religious conflicts. This particular misinterpretation is obviously deliberate if the state of affairs in Nigeria is mirrored.
Nigerian institutions, past and present epitomise the culture and norms of her colonial master- Britain, whose affairs is fashioned under the check and balance of the Christendom.
Little wonder the Christian leaders swiftly condemn any verdict or occurrence that seem favourable to the non-Christians. They fear being on a level ground with others.
Mr. Asemota revisited the Nigeria’s 1986 controversial registration with Organisation of Ismamic Countries (OIC) by Ibrahim Babangida (IBB). Though the Christian elderly tried bringing an otherwise convincing point on “islamization”, he failed to acknowledge the aftermath efforts of Muslim leaders to calm the tension just as he did not point how the true son the church- Dr. Goodluck Johnathan in 2015 found it worthy to attend an OIC meeting, a step other post-1986 leaders dare not take.
I was astonished as to how the case of a Christian citizen docked for naming his dog Buhari was mixed into lies of “islamization”. A mere legal case between citizens so unlucky to have been dragged into religious discourse by Mr Asemota, one of those who paint issues for their naïve followers whose only contribution is “it’s true oo”.
NCEF also brought to public notice the seeming bias composition of President Buhari’s security and intelligence committee of, which in their statement is a “civilized jihad”. This is a mere illusion from a group of elders who has the vice president as a comrade and failed to make confirmation on his rumoured exclusion before broadcasting their guess.
Politicking asides, Nigeria Christian elders should remember the “classified crusade” that took place at tensed period of ‘Boko’ menace. Christians might not have created boko haram but they sure groomed it well to consume Muslim majority states. President Johnathan defence circle might pass the equality test though. We are all oblivious of the lackadaisical attitude of the Christian security chiefs to operation Zaman Lafia. Nigerians will testify from recent revelations that the Muslim National Security Adviser (NSA) was on dollar sharing errand while the Muslim Lagosian who is to monitor security was busy monitoring elections for his Christian boss. Captain Kilo’s recording is still fresh online!
We will as well not forget the misery $19million arms cash exported to South Africa in the former CAN president’s jet accompanied by 2 Israelis, citizens of a country in whose favour goes our December 2014 neutral vote at United Nations Security Council. These are few anti-Islamic happenings in a country purported to be Islamic. At times, one may be forced to ask “what is Islamic about the Nigeria?” The Islamic statehood of Nigeria is indeed a myth.
As a multi-religious nation that we are, we have to learn to differentiate facts from fallacies. To coexist peacefully, let’s learn not to make controversy out of every issue, especially when we are elders.
Siddiq Ifeoluwa Oyelami wrote in from Suleja LGA, Niger state via firstname.lastname@example.org
He is an Islamic educationalist and activist.