National Confab: The Muslims’ plight in the confederation of Nigeria

The ongoing National Confab, to me, is a composition of what could be linked to a planned Agenda of some Religious circles, curriculums of some ethnic groups, bagged with politicians on a compensation pay, or what I could say open declaration of Hatred on the Muslims and Islam as a Religion. I am not alone on this thinking, many religious bodies, groups, NGOs, Politicians and many Individuals had expressed their opinion in this direction, which if you will agree with me, is the truth. I will quote some of the religious bodies that had said something to the public, because I am a religion columnist.

NSCIA: “We have serious reservations about the Conference particularly because the Presidency itself was openly aversed to the idea of the Conference initially. And now, with such level of unfairness in the composition of the membership of the Conference, and other forms of violations we earlier complained about, we have reasons to suspect that there were certain undisclosed motives behind it”.

Another group was: The Muslim Solidarity Forum, a coalition of all Islamic groups in Sokoto criticized the composition of delegates to the national conference, saying only 190 of the delegates are Muslims. It described it as a “great injustice and aggressive agenda” against adherents of the religion and called on all peace-loving Nigerians, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, individual Muslims and organizations to boycott the conference.

NACOMYO: “The National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations wishes to thank all concerned Islamic groups and individuals who have contacted the Council and other Muslim leaders to express their displeasure on the religious Agenda which are becoming apparent from a manipulated ‘nominations’ to the proposed National Conference. The Council is not unaware of the fact that the whole idea of the Conference was that of a “Christian mafia ring” to which the Federal Government of Nigeria was only drafted as it was obvious from the dramatic change of mind by principal Christian actors in Government”
MURIC: “We reject the list of delegates as it stands and we advise the presidency to exhibit true patriotism, political maturity and compliance with democratic norms by reviewing the delegates list which has been massively tilted to favor Christians in the country.

When the confab took shape, at the first sitting my fear, and many other as quoted above fears started manifesting with the deliberate challenge of Pastor Bakare on the chairman of the Confab over the use of Arabic in his personal prayers which is known to the Muslims generally, to serve or request for Allah’s guardians in piloting the entire affairs of the Confab. Should I say it was a deliberate attack to rubbish the Muslims ways of prayers? Because the pastor should know better what the chairman of the confab was saying for the obvious reasons. Though MURIC wrote a press release and lectured him on his ignorant saying: “Tunde Bakare’s outburst was therefore a manifestation of pathological hatred for Muslims and their faith. His behavior smirked of a gross lack of tolerance for the faith of others and portrays the pastor as an enforcer. Attempting to stop the chairman from using his faith to guide him is an encroachment on the latter’s Allah-given and fundamental human right”

My worries are what do the Muslims in Nigeria stand to gain at the end of this Confab? Many Muslims advised the Muslims leaders not to participate in the Confab because of the lopsidedness of the compositions of the delegates, though the NSCIA had earlier “The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic AffairS (NSCIA) Wrote TO Mr. President on The National Conference dated March 26, 2014.
“The purpose of this meeting is to draw Your Excellency’s attention to some important issues that are agitating the minds of the Muslim community in Nigeria with respect to the National Conference convened by the Federal Government. We believe that this approach of meeting will be more productive and mutually beneficial.

Your Excellency would recall that in a letter dated 8th December 2013, we drew your attention to the position of the Muslim Ummah on the proposed national conference.  In the correspondence, we advised “Mr. President to shelve the idea until 2015 elections” while expressing the concerns of Nigerians on the need to address more pressing challenges. When we received Your Excellency’s reply on why the Conference should hold as scheduled by your Government, we took it in good faith and decided to support it.

Yet, we have serious reservations about the Conference particularly because the Presidency itself was openly averse to the idea of the Conference initially. And now, with such level of unfairness in the composition of the membership of the Conference, and other forms of violations we earlier complained about, we have reasons to suspect that there were certain undisclosed motives behind it”
The agenda of what the Muslims wanted to achieve and pursue at this National Confab in my opinion is summarized in what led to standing ovation for one of the representatives of the Nigerian Supreme council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Alh Nurudeen Lemu and I quote him:

“As a delegate, and as a people representing people of faith in God from the Islamic perspective, one thing we believe is that God will protect the community that stands for justice even if they are not Muslims and God will not protect the community that goes contrary to justice even if they call themselves Muslims.
God is not a religious bigot. He is not a male chauvinist. He is not an ethnocentric tribalism. God is not the oppressor of anyone. God is with those who care; those who want for others those things they want for themselves. One tendency for people who claim to follow a religion is to slide into the position of believing that we are better than the others. We overestimate our virtues and underestimate the goodness in others. The tendency is for us to become spiritually arrogant; to forget that others are people like us.

There is always a tension between representing our religious communities or our ethnic communities and our loyalty to the virtues and values and teachings of our religion even those lofty ideals of our ethnic groups. It is our prayer that delegates will try and ensure that the spiritual strength we have in us will keep us from not getting angry and not allowing our bitterness from others to make us sail from justice. It is in this vein and as a delegate from the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, we condemn the murder of all Christians, we condemn the murder of all Muslims. Not because they are Christians or Muslims, but because they are human beings – creatures of God.

There is no compulsion in religion. We all own Nigeria. We all belong here. And we all have the right to self-determination. We should respect that right and do unto others what we will do unto ourselves. There are many other countries that have ethnic and religious diversity far greater than what we have here in Nigeria. But something that distinguishes us from them, be it Singapore, United States, they have been able to respect the rule of law so that any bigot, any nepotic individual who tramples on the right of anyone especially that of the minority, the rule of law will catch up. Satan will only find a hole if there is a crack in that rule of law.

Ever ethnic group is an oppressed minority somewhere. Every group is a religious and ethnic minority somewhere. Every majority or settler is an indigene somewhere. In one way, we are all settlers; we just don’t remember where we came from or why we came. But ultimately, we are all visitors to this planet, from God we come and to Him we return. As Muslim delegates, we come in brotherhood, as brothers and friends to solve our common problems and not as adversaries. We come against the exploitation of religion and religious sentiments. We come against stereotyping, stigmatizing and dehumanizing of each other. We come against the use of religion as a political decoy and as a distraction from the critical things that bedevil our nation.”

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