By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described the reaction of the Northern Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) to its statement which was published on Friday 7thJune, 2019 as an escapist gimmick, a distortion of facts and the handiwork of distractors, agent provocateur and confusionists. MURIC’s latest statement which was issued on Monday, 10th June, 2019 was signed by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The Islamic human rights organization was reacting to a rejoinder of NCEF which was published yesterday, Sunday, 9thJune, 2019 in which the latter attacked MURIC. According to NCEF, MURIC was trying to score political points. NCEF also claimed that placing Shariah in the 1999 Constitution was Nigeria’s problem, not Christianity or Islam.
“NCEF has digressed and it is deliberate. We took NCEF up on its allegation of Islamisation and its criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s attendance of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit last week. But instead of addressing the substance, NCEF has veered to the shadow.
“It is an escapist gimmick and a distortion of facts. It is the handiwork of distractors, agent provocateur and confusionists. We supplied facts and figures about OIC and its origin in our own statement. We said General Gowon (rtd) took Nigeria to OIC. NCEF could not contradict this. We mentioned the gains brought back home from OIC summit by the president. NCEF has no response for that.
“How can NCEF be complaining about Nigeria’s membership of OIC when many West African countries are there: Ivory Coast, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, etc? Uganda, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique are all there. Guyana from South America is a member. Russia and Thailand are members in observer status.
“Both the United Nations and the African Union are observer nations of OIC. How many of these countries have been Islamised since 1969 when OIC was founded? In fact, can anyone embark on any Islamisation exercise under the watch of the UN? We are not surprised that NCEF was forced to put its car in the reverse gear after realizing all these facts.
“But instead of admitting defeat, NCEF begins to beat about the bush. It is grandstanding. Modesty and humility are not in NCEF’s vocabulary. It is blaming Shariah in the 1999 Constitution. How does that relate to Buhari in 2019? Was Buhari in power in 1999? How did Shariah in the constitution become Buhari’s baby? Why should he be reported to a foreign parliament for what he knew nothing about? Is it the federal government that is practicing Shariah? Is Buhari practicing Shariah? When did Shariah start and when did Buhari become president? We can see clearly that senility and amnesia are close neighbours.
“By the way, was Shariah part of NCEF’s original statement which MURIC reacted to on Friday? The issue was OIC. How can you jump from one subject to another without thrashing the original subject matter? It is escapist. It is an attempt to confuse Nigerians.
“We are shocked that NCEF now claims to be seeking ‘a peaceful and lasting solution to current national crisis’. ‘Peaceful and lasting solution’ indeed. We have no doubt that even NCEF does not believe itself making such a claim. Can anyone seek peaceful solution by setting fire to the roof? Is it by inciting Christians against Muslims that you can seek ‘peaceful and lasting solutions’? Is it by uttering hate speeches that you can seek ‘peaceful and lasting solutions’? Or is it by always crying wolf where there is none?
“We remind NCEF that its impertinence led the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to disown it. We urge NCEF to first reconcile with CAN and stop seeking undue relevance. NCEF should also examine the audio and video clips of its preachers which are full of incitement before claiming to be seeking ‘peaceful and lasting solutions’. Interestingly enough, Pastor Bosun Emmanuel whose inciteful video clips proliferate cyberspace is the secretary of NCEF. Need we say more?
“The real problem in Project Nigeria is groups like NCEF who want to live but do not want others to live. They are particularly allergic to anything Islamic when in actual fact the Nigerian system was totally christianised by the colonial masters.
“We recognize and accept the Christian way of life for our Christian neighbours but the earlier they also recognize the Islamic way of life for Muslims the better for all of us. Nobody can Shugaba us. We affirm clearly, categorically and unequivocally that Nigerian Muslims are an integral part of this country and we are not leaving any time soon.
“We appeal to NCEF and its co-travellers to drop this allegation of Islamisation. Nobody can Islamise Nigeria. The Yorubas who reside in the North have Obas. But is that Afeniferisation or Oduduwisation? The Igbo people are scattered all over Nigeria and they have their own Igwes in all those places. But is that Biafrisation?
Why then do we single out the Hausa-Fulani in our midst and accuse them of Islamisation and Fulanisation? It is stigmatization. It is intolerance. It is petty and crude. It is a mockery of civilisation. If Afeniferisation or Oduduwisation is mere fancy, if Biafrisation is a mirage, we make bold to say Islamisation and Fulanisation are mere hallucinations. None of these ‘isations’ is in the best interest of our country.
“We should therefore come together and drop name-calling or adopting meaningless terms to deceive gullible Nigerians. Stereotyping has robbed us of the last vestiges of civilization. There are criminals in all tribes just as there are decent and law-abiding men and women in all groups. The way forward is for the good people to unite and expose the bad eggs. Nigeria is a great nation with immense potentials. This is how to make it greater. Let us stop these meaningless allegations and harness our country’s human and material resources.
“As we wind up, therefore, we invite NCEF to true tolerance which can only be found in the principle of live and let live. NCEF must allow the integration of all religions, cultures and ethnicities in the Nigerian project. Nigeria is for all of us. It is not a Christian property. Neither is it for Muslims alone. NCEF has locked up Nigeria in a Nigeria-for-Christ-project. It is time to open its windows and allow the breeze of nationalism to come in from all directions. NCEF should stop seeing Islamisation in its dreams. Let us all dream greatness for Nigeria instead.”