13th Jimadal-Ula, 1439AH
30th January, 2018
The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) under the leadership of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakr CFR, mni, makes this press release in response to the recent campaign of venom, hatred, calumny and unimaginable malice that smacks of intolerance and political brigandage by Reverend Musa Asake, the Secretary-General of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in response to the advice of the Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI).
Many Nigerians are aware that NSCIA would ordinarily refrain from joining issues with CAN, but the silence of the Council seems to give the impression that only CAN has the license and reason to complain and impugn motives. Like other right-thinking Nigerians who hoped that the ignoble past of this erstwhile respectable Association would be confined to history especially with the change of leadership, it is disappointing that Rev. Asake, a beneficiary of the old order of institutionalised corruption, is still there making hate speeches, heating the polity and diminishing himself and his Association. Little wonder that the new President of CAN publicly cut him to size when he said Rev. Asake’s formal endorsement of Governor Ayo Fayose’s alleged Presidential ambition was personal as “there was no time CAN or the president of CAN authorized such a letter.” It is now clear that Rev. Asake’s political leaning is not personal, as claimed, but a smoke-screen to deceive the public.
Rev. Musa Asake’s CAN derisively and uncouthly referred to President Muhammadu Buhari as “a bad product”. He made further outlandish statements characteristic of egocentric, relevance-seeking and loquacious politicians associated with discredited political parties and called out “the President of Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs” (sic) in his attempt to react to two Nigerians he disagreed with. Was President Jonathan declared a bad product at any time by CAN despite the earth-shaking atrocities of his government?
It is no longer an open secret that CAN has since its last Administration descended to the abyss of infamy. The role the leadership of CAN played during the dark days of the past corruption-riddled Administration is well recorded. CAN did not call for heaven to fall when private planes were being used to support money-laundering and failed gun-running enterprise which involved its leadership.
The tactical support that CAN gave to churches and Christian organizations that resisted the implementation of the Code of Corporate Governance issued by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (a body established by law), which led to the removal of the Executive Secretary of FRC simply because the Code would require the Churches/Mosques to declare their sources of income and also render financial accounts to the public, is still fresh in our minds. The victim, a Christian, had to be sacrificed to satisfy the insatiable material appetite of the clergy.
CAN and Campaigns of Calumny
The unfortunate escalation of the herdsmen-farmers conflict has been exploited by the cantankerous CAN scribe to cast aspersion and spew venom, hatred, calumny and invectives at Muslims in Nigeria. Reading some of the effusions coming from people like Rev. Asake, who should be a custodian of good conscience and beliefs in this country, one wonders the type of models they would be for their followers. After hobnobbing with the powers that be during the last Administration, taking their right and every other thing left in the vast corruption enterprise that they criminally ran with their partners in crime, the strategy now is to cry wolf where there is none, make a storm in a teacup and shout of maginalisation and Islamization, even though they are the ones still in charge, in order to totally emasculate Muslims in their own country.
Ours is a shamelessly Christian country and we know it even when we say it is a multi-religious one. The Christian irredentists since seizing our people by the jugular have not relented a bit. In other words, Christianity had been imposed on Nigerians since the British bombardment of Lagos in 1851 and systematically institutionalized through Western education since then. Both education and the media are used to nurture an unfair and unjust system against Muslims and till date, the symbol of our National Hospital is the cross, that of the Ambulance is the cross and both Saturdays and Sundays are made work-free to satisfy the sects of Christianity.
Muslims are being slaughtered in Southern communities with impunity as the media look the other way and they are being banished from Northern communities, including Tafawa Balewa, where the Muslim call to prayer has been banned and all mosques demolished, while everything is made to appear “normal”. It is only Christians that are being denied places of religious worship, being marginalized and “Islamized” in Nigeria - sheer deceit! Since it is clear to right-thinking Nigerians across religious divides that some of those who claim to be CAN leaders are desperate politicians in religious garbs, no one actually takes them seriously and that is why the Council does not usually dignify their puerile interventions and diatribes with reactions.
It is an unfortunate truism that the religious platform of CAN is being converted to that of opportunism, propaganda, lies, mischief, hatred, sycophancy, intolerance and everything that is wrong with Nigeria. While CAN leadership ran the past Administration out of relevance through connivance with its key players in humongous corruption and undiluted bigotry, the current agenda is to literally pull President Muhammadu Buhari down by stoking ethnic and religious sentiments against him and thereby tickle our nation’s catastrophe and erect pyramids of ethno-religious strife in the country.
The propagandist tactics of CAN are often done without tact or knowledge. Always impulsive and less reflective, CAN has often flayed President Buhari for furthering the phantom “Islamization" agenda with the appointment of any one whose name sounds Arabic or Islamic as Muslims. This informed why a Christian Prof. Salami was listed among the Muslim appointees of the Government by the ill-informed and mischievous characters who parade themselves as religious leaders. Those who see Nigerians only from nominal, ethnic or religious perspectives suffer from chronic myopia. As a matter of fact, to say all Fulanis are Muslims is as foolish as saying all Igbos are Christians and that all Hausas are Muslims. That exactly is one of the claims of Rev Musa Asake; a man bearing Musa but who would question why a Muslim staff member of the NSCIA should bear Christian Okonkwo.
Herdsmen-Farmers’ Violent Clashes
The state of insecurity presently being experienced in some parts of the nation is owed to fundamental factors than the simplistic delimitation of the crisis to the desire of the Fulani herdsmen to re-launch the “Caliphate’ afresh. While the NSCIA deprecates and denounces all acts of violence no matter the motive or cause, the Council considers it an infantile indulgence in crass ignorance, a manifestation of noxious prejudice or a predilection for roguish subterfuge to insinuate that the herdsmen who are suspected of brigandage or criminal behaviour are doing that in the name of Islam. The NSCIA says this because it recognizes that churches are already ‘planted’ in various parts of the North even in the homeland of the Caliphate where the Fulanis have become sheep in the house of God.
Furthermore, NSCIA knows that the current challenges posed by the herdsmen/farmers conflicts to our security speak to a greater cankerworm assailing the nation. These include erosion of mutual trust and love among the citizenry, easy access to weapons of violence, failure of the herdsmen to appreciate and get attuned to the new challenges and circumstances posed by modernity, loss of national values and the quest for quick money which has made kidnapping a new industry since the reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Thus to argue that President Buhari has been treating the security challenges posed by the Fulani herdsmen attacks with kid gloves because he is Fulani is not only arcane and puerile but also tantamount to saying that the reason President Jonathan did not succeed to permanently stop the militants’ attacks in the Niger Delta was because he is an Ijaw. Where was CAN then?
Would those accusing President Buhari of patronizing the herdsmen be favourably disposed to granting amnesty to the herdsmen in line with the one granted the Niger Delta militants simply because, in line with their argument, President Buhari is Fulani the same way President Jonathan is Ijaw? This type of reasoning and argument constitutes a trivialization of an extremely important issue of national interest and an outright display of fecklessness; they are sound arguments only to those who can take a bath in a saucer.
State of Federal Appointments
Despite the data provided by the President’s Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, on President Buhari’s federal appointments so far and the consequent rebuttal to the erroneous impression of an Islamist agenda on the part of the current Government at the federal level, with data showing that Ogun, Imo and Kano States have enjoyed the uncommon privilege of the highest patronage from the Federal Government, certain groups and individuals in the nation like CAN still accuse the President of a Northernization/ Islamization agenda. In its recent press release on this matter, CAN mentioned Education and Security sectors. Always listed are NUC, NBTE, JAMB, NABTEB and TETFund. Has CAN forgotten so soon that in the past 15 years, the Executive Secretaries of NUC have been Christians? Has CAN forgotten so soon that the last substantive Executive Secretary of TETFund up to 2016 was a Christian? Has CAN forgotten so soon that in the last 20 years, except for 14 months (i.e. May 2015 – September 2016) the Registrars/CEO’s of NECO till date are Christians? Has CAN forgotten so soon that during the past ten years before August 2016, the Registrar of JAMB was a Christian? When almost all the appointees were Christians and Southerners, it was normal but when some are Muslims and Northerners, it is nepotism, favoritism and discrimination!
Again, has CAN forgotten that under a past Christian President, the Chief of Staff was a Christian, the Chief of Air Staff was a Christian, the Chief of Army Staff was a Christian, the Chief of Defence Staff was a Christian, the DG SSS was a Christian, the DG of NIA was a Christian and the Secretary to the Government was a Christian? Is this a case of selective amnesia or that of acute balefulness? NABTEB, TRCN and NIEPA have never for once been headed by a Muslim to date. That is normal!!!
We are also aware of the multiple hundreds of millions of Naira that CAN collects through patronage from the Central Bank of Nigeria on a yearly basis for a partial lease of a parcel of land. We can safely say that CAN is being funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria, but NSCIA being conscious of the role of religious organizations as a stabilizing factor has chosen not to heat up the polity with this aberration. Whereas, heavens would have fallen if a government agency was paying an Islamic body such a huge amount of money CAN receives from CBN.
Similarly, we are aware that the Federal Government has been patronising CAN while the Council is being treated with scorn because the former behaves like militants and believes that only a violent language is what the Government understands.
While the request of NSCIA for a meeting with the President is yet to be honoured, that of CAN was expressly granted, yet CAN complains. Indeed, one of the complaints of CAN was marginalization of Christians in appointments which is false. When former President Jonathan was confronted with his religiously slanted Political Conference, where Muslims were about one-third of the membership, he initially feigned ignorance and promised to redress it. He never did. Where was CAN then?
When the Muslims of Southwest complained that all the Seven (7) Ministers from the zone were Christians, the former President initially refuted it, though he belatedly at the twilight of his tenure brought in Senator Obanikoro and one other Muslim from Osun State for window dressing.
It is on this note that in order to demonstrate that we are fair and we do not condone injustice, we call on the Federal Government to commence immediately, the process of conducting a religious census of not only the leadership but also the staff membership of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a view to confirming or refuting the allegation of CAN leaders when they visited the President. We know the allegation is another barefaced lie, the stock-in-trade of CAN.
Then, while commiserating with the victims of the recent attacks in Benue, we strongly call for a thorough investigation of all aggressions, including the initial ones in Mambilla and Numan in Taraba and Adamawa States respectively. We expect the Federal Government to expeditiously redouble its efforts at arresting the current state of insecurity in all parts of the country. We also urge CAN leaders to follow and obey the teachings of Jesus Christ of love, peace-making, compassion and standing by truth and justice, and not follow the path of the devil by always being invidious, insidious, mischievous, vicious and hateful in its postures and pronouncements.
Professor Salisu Shehu
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs