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Panic in the South over Islamic agenda

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Kaduna assembly recommends probe of el-Rufai for 'money laundering’

By OBINNA EZUGWU

Since it first emerged last week, the Christian fold in the country has been thrown into subdued anxiety, as their worst fears over the same faith ticket paraded by President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in the 2023 election, seems to have been borne out. All the assurances made to them to douse such fears appear empty and pretentious, as recent developments suggest otherwise.

Matters may come to a head on Tuesday, when the National Assembly will be inaugurated, as the election now seems to be determined by the faith of the candidates for the principal positions of senate president and speaker of the house of reps. Without a Christian emerging as Senate president, all the top positions in the nations three arms of government would be held by Moslems, a proof of Nasir El Rufai’s claim of Islamic agenda to control Nigeria.

Nasir El-Rufai, the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, began an experiment in 2018 when he first opted for a Muslim-Muslim ticket ahead of the 2019 election, in a state that had, in recognition of its significant Christian population in its southern part, run balanced ticket to accommodate the two leading faiths.

His decision inevitably set the stage for heightened unrest in the already volatile state, and the insecurity challenge took a whole new dimension. Though bandits wreaked havoc in nearly every part of the state, with Birnin Gwari as the epicenter, the Christian Southern Kaduna, which had also become a killing field, turned into a bigger theatre of bloodshed.

Local chiefs were targeted and eliminated in a systemic violence by gunmen – often identified as Fulani bandits – who appear to be on a mission to conquer. Churches came under heavy attacks, and numerous priests, among others, were either killed or abducted.

“Bigotry is a state policy in Kaduna State for the past eight years. Muslim and Christians were set up against each other for political gains,” noted Shehu Sani, former senator representing Kaduna Central.

“Religious clerics were drafted and paid to propagate hate and divisiveness.The Government purport itself as Champion of interest of the Muslims while it inflicted suffering and hardships on on the same people.”

But El-Rufai saw victory for Islam amid the chaos that was Kaduna under his watch; a victory he says has now been replicated at the national level with Bola Tinubu, and Kashim Shettima, two Muslims becoming president and vice-president under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) after the contentious 2023 presidential election.

Addressing Imams in the state in a now viral video that came to light last week, the former governor, flanked by his successor, Uba Sani, declared as follows: “Religion was used, God made Asiwaju victorious. What we did in Kaduna has now been done in the country. No liar, who is going to contest using politics of Christianity will ever win any election again. Peter Obi tried and see how he ended. We’ve tackled it.

“Since Asiwaju won the election CAN has been quiet. That is how there will be peace in the country. If this is done again and again and again everything will….. wallahi (swearing) that was what we did. And myself and others, we think we have done our part, Asiwaju has won the election, so our job is done. Our appeal to you is to pray for him to find good people to work with him.”

El-Rufai, equally told his audience that in the course of the electioneering campaigns, when “they” (Christians ) tried to ask questions on why the Muslim/Muslim ticket, he deceived ‘them’ that it was not for religious dominance when in reality, the tickets both nationally and at the state level were for Islamic dominance.”

The Kaduna governor is not new to making provocative remarks. In the lead up to the recently held general elections, he dismissed Christians in the North as “elements,” who according to him, as not significant. And indeed, for the eight years he was governor, from 2015 to 2023, many say such divisive tactics was effectively deployed for political gains.

“The past government (in Kaduna) maintained a systemic policy of marginalisation and repression of the people of Southern Kaduna because of their faith and political choices. Over the years, some of their leaders were arrested for voicing out. The last act was the proscription of one of their groups. There are more of such clips but it’s cunningly and deliberately not done in English.”

The governor’s comments have continued to generate furore on and off social media. A country with nearly even Muslim and Christian population, and tension often lurk in the surface. It has further reinforced the belief that there is an active plot by some elements to Islamize the country, amid suspicion over APC’s Muslim-muslim ticket.

“As a Christian, if that el-Rufai video didn’t send shiver down your spine, then there a problem. I’m just here to remind you that he literally meant that no Christian will ever rule this country again. You see that persecution inside Bible, kekere ni. Oju yin ma ri mabo,” remarked Lola Okunrin, @lollypeezle.

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In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu’s predecessor, became president of the country, after defeating the then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, in the keenly contested presidential election that same year.

Buhari, who first joined the presidential contest in 2003, on the back of the controversial Sharia law introduced by a number of Northern states during the tenure of Olusegun Obasanjo, became widely popular in the region, as one of its leading proponents. Seen as the face of northern opposition against Obasanjo, Buhari solidified his support base by openly voicing his support for Sharia.

While his northern support base couldn’t secure him presidency in 2003, 2007 and 2011, he was eventually able to achieve power by aligning with the Bola Tinubu led South West in 2015.

His administration would be the first in the country’s democratic history to entrench the preponderance of Islam in virtually every sphere of the country’s polity. For the first, time Muslims headed all the three arms of the government, including the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The only break being the brief period Walter Onnoghen, a judge from Cross River State, served as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, before being unceremoniously dismissed and replaced with Tanko Muhammad, who in turn, paved the way for the current chief justice, Ariwoola Olukayode, another Muslim.

Whilst Buhari, a Muslim, served as president, Ahmad Lawan, a fellow Muslim, served as senate president, while Femi Gbajabiamila, yet another Muslim, served as speaker of House of Representatives.

Under Buhari, however, a Christian, in Yemi Osinbajo, was vice president, making him to highest ranking Christian political officer holder in eight years.

Tinubu’s ascension to the throne with a fellow Muslim in Shettima as vice president, has nullified that scenario. And for the likes of El-Rufai, it’s perhaps time to entrench a complete Muslim dominance in the country.

“I understand the game that El-Rufai thinks he’s playing,” said Malachy Odo, @MalachyOdo1, a lawyer. “He wants to be seen as some sort of Islamic Messiah up North as Buhari is.

“He also knows that no matter how provocative his views are, the so-called educated South would always be willing to embrace him when the time comes.”

The Muslim-Muslim ticket which brought Tinubu to power, has only helped to widen religious divide in the country. To help reduce tension, many have suggested that the next senate president should be a Christian from the south. Tinubu himself has backed Godswill Akpabio, former Akwa Ibom State governor, for the role.

However, Abdulaziz Yari, former Zamfara State governor, has insisted on taking the position, and recent feedback suggests he already has the support of many Northwest and Northeast senators-elect, who are determined to ensure that the North takes control of the legislature.

“The mistake many people, especially Christians make is that they assume ignorantly that Nigeria is settled as a circular state,” said Chidi Anthony, a legal practitioner based in Abuja. “But that’s far from the truth. The reality is that there is a battle to define Nigeria as an Islamic country, and that’s what the likes of the former Kaduna governor are pushing aggressively.”

In the event of Yari becoming senate president, all the arms of government, including this time, the vice president, would be headed by Muslims. Religious tensions could potentially reach fever pitch high, and for observers, if the likes of El-Rufai are allowed to continue to stoke religious tension, the country could well be headed for trouble.

“The unity of this country will remain a myth and an illusion as long as the system condones fanatical leaders, who will always exploit the religious differences, fervour and sensibilities of our people for their own personal political expediencies,” Sani, a critic of the former governor further noted.

Sharing pictures of priests killed in Kaduna in recent months, Sani further remarked that, “‘Imagine a governor of a state for eight years and these high profile Clerics were murdered by terrorists in his state, and he never for once bothered to visit their families for condolence, or even speak personally on the tragedies. If I don’t find a word bigger than a ‘bigot’, I’ll coin it.”

In another intervention, the senator noted: “This country irrationally and illogically imprisoned secessionists and condone theocratic religious fanatics as leaders.”

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Toeing the same line as Sani, Pa Edwin Clark, elder statesman and leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), described the former governor’s remarks as treasonable felony, wondering why he’s not being questioned.

Clark in a statement on Friday, said: “The insensitive, irresponsible, uncouth and arrogant statement credited to Nasir El-Rufai, on his plan to impose the Islamic religion on the country, lasting for the next 20 years, is still causing bad blood.

“It is unthinkable how someone who describes himself as a leader could utter such statements, except to cause confusion, which is very obvious that he benefits from such confusion. Because there is no other way of explaining such crass behaviour and statements.

“It is a shame and embarrassment that El-Rufai, who has been in government since 1999 and has served with President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government, should commit such a seditious act that could incite violence and tear the country apart. What else is a treasonable felony? What is the difference between the action of El-Rufai and the offence that Nnamdi Kanu is accused of?”

The elder statesman also advised newly elected and returning senators to ensure that they elect a Christian senator as the President of the 10th Senate, saying it was the only fair thing to do.

In the statement he personally signed, Clark noted that a potential all-Muslim leadership consisting of President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, Chief Justice of the Federation, Olukayode Ariwoola, and the speculated Muslim Speaker of the House of Representatives, would be detrimental to the country.

“Allowing a Muslim to occupy the Senate Presidency would only consolidate this mono-religious leadership, which may not be suitable for prudent minds,” he said.

“Our division is hindering us from taking our pride of place both in the African continent and globally. It is time to heal our land, and in so doing, what I expect of the 10th Senate is to give the position of Senate President to a Christian Senator from the southern part of the country.

Clark noted further: “It is only fair, equitable and just to do so. Making a Muslim the Senate President will be unacceptable to any discerning mind that thinks well of this country.

“As it will mean that the three arms of government are all headed by Muslims. It is also to be noted that the person tipped to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is equally a Muslim.”

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1,113 Comments

1,113 Comments

  1. Mickyraim

    June 12, 2023 at 1:46 pm

    SPECULATIVE IRRESPONSIBLE AND CHILDISH.

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