The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s (PMB) presence at the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). Two socio-cultural groups, Afenifere and Ohaneze also towed CAN’s line. In addition, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo last week accused PMB of Fulanisation and Islamisation of Nigeria.
However, an Islamic human rights organization has debunked the allegations. According to the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), those criticizing PMB for attending this year’s OIC summit are in urgent need of anti-Islamophobia vaccine.
“It is pathological hatred. Those who are allergic to transparency, those who have phobia for due process, those who are ethnic bigots and those who are deeply entrenched in acrobatic religiousity are ganging up under the banner of gymnastic Islamophobia. The old order cometh again. CAN, Afenifere, Ohaneze are all Muslim-haters and what they need urgently is anti-Islamophobia vaccine.
“Come to think of it. 53 heads of state out of the 57 member-states of the OIC are being expected at the summit and majority of them are not even Muslims. Why are they singling out PMB?
“MURIC will not hesitate to give proportionate response to any attack on Islam from any quarter no matter how highly positioned. Those who want to attack PMB’s government are free to do so. We may ignore them. But anyone who uses religion as a launching pad to attack any Muslim leader (not PMB alone) will have MURIC to contend with.
“That is where OBJ crossed the red line. He accused PMB of Fulanisation and Islamisation. We have no problem with the former because it is a mirage. Fulanisation exists only in the imagination of those who concocted it. In reality, Nigerians have either consciously or otherwise turned Fulanis into an endangered specie, pushed from pillar to post. However, the ex-president has just exposed himself as an ethnic jingoist.
“OBJ’s allegation of Islamisation is what we find strange and disturbing coming from a man with his record of accommodating Muslims, personally sponsoring Islamic projects (e.g. his presidential library in Abeokuta contains a mosque), patronising Islamic scholars for spiritual invocation and also organizing interfaith dialogue. So what informed the 360 degree turn-around?
“MURIC advises the present leadership of CAN not to start the old firebrand rivalry all over again. CAN should stop crying wolf where there is none. Neither should CAN continue to heat up the polity or whip up anti-Muslim sentiments. We invite CAN to peaceful coexistence. Let us live and let live. We were all here when ex-president Jonathan turned Jerusalem to Aso Rock’s backyard and the Muslims said nothing about it. CAN should eschew selective criticism.
MURIC did not spare Afenifere and Ohaneze both of whom it accused of hiding under socio-cultural identity to lauch a crusade.
“Afenifere has always been known as a group of deceptive crusaders in a socio-cultural cloak. The group has always pursued parochial agendum. It has always represented Christian interest alone whereas it claims to speak for the South West. No sane Nigerian takes Afenifere seriously these days.
The problem with other socio-cultural groups attacking Islam is that of mistaken priority. They turn their frustrations to Islam instead of addressing the challenges to the development of their regions and the welfare of their people. In particular, both Afenifere and Ohaneze parade the DNA of the nine lepers who failed to appreciate Jesus. The more PMB favours their region, the more they grow bitter.
“As we round off, we appeal to OBJ to desist from attacking the institution of Islam. We call on all socio-cultural groups to concentrate on the development of their regions and the welfare of their people instead of dissipating energy on launching attacks on Muslims.
We assure our Christian brothers and sisters of our willingness to live in peace with them. It is humanity that matters first, not a man’s religion. We charge Nigerians to ignore all irredentist individuals and groups. What Nigeria needs now is prayers, peace, unity and hard work”.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,