By Mohammed Adamu
We’ll be safe to presume that those who accused the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido, of not ‘properly consulting’ the Christian community before introducing Islamic banking are not by any stretch of the imagination contesting the legality of his actions. He should only have ‘properly consulted’ before doing so.
Then, you ask: ‘if the law allows it, why ‘must’ the Christian community be ‘consulted’ before implementing it? They cannot say, like many others do: ‘because it amounts to the ‘Islamisation of Nigeria’. If they do, the question would be: ‘would Sanusi have been allowed to do it (namely ‘Islamise Nigeria) if he had ‘properly consulted’ the Christian community?’
Nor would the apostles of ‘consultation’ be justified to say: ‘it is illegal for the CBN Governor to introduce Islamic banking’. Because again the question would be: ‘if it is illegal, would any amount of consultation with the Christian community legalise what is already adjudged ‘illegal’?
Thus, you would notice that there are three distinct but mutually non-exclusive premises of the anti-Islamic banking crusade. All arguing disparately yet all hoping to overcome as ‘one’. It’s like when predators in the wild hunt, they attack multi-directionally and divergently; but they all close in on one prey! The apostles of ‘proper consultation’ are not singing the tunes of ‘apocalyptic prophets’ who cry the wolf of ‘plan to Islamise Nigeria’; nor are the ‘apocalyptic prophets’ of ‘Islamisation’ bothered about the legality or otherwise of Sanusi’s action. That arena has been obfuscated with fraudulent interpretation of the statutes to discredit the implementation.
So, the strongest point of opposition from the apostles of ‘proper consultation’ is: ‘so CBN’s action will create religious tension in the country’? But then, you ask: ‘why should it create religious tension in the country, if the laws of the same country allow it? Or isn’t what the law allows necessarily ‘right’? -whether or not it is ‘right’ by our own narrow or parochial interests?
If what the law allows is ‘right’ and what is ‘right’ therefore ‘true’, why should implementing the ‘truth?’ cause “anxiety and apprehension” especially among a believing community of any religion for that matter?
No Nigerian who argued for the abandonment of the ‘just’ and ‘equitable’ principle of zoning in a plural democracy like Nigeria’s did not know that doing so could create, in addition to religious tension even ethnic and regional distrust (which it has); yet those who believed (crookedly or otherwise) that zoning was unconstitutional, claimed the right to deference to ‘law’ even to the total disregard for the possibility of ‘tension’ and ‘division’ in the country. The rude lesson being: not even the anticipation of ‘crises’ should warrant detraction from the ‘law’
Again, if we presume that ‘consultation’ with the Christian community was absolutely necessary before the introduction of Islamic banking, who would consult with the Christian community? Should it be the entire Islamic or Muslim community?; Or JNI to CAN?; Or the CBN Governor Sanusi -acting alone in his capacity as a Muslim or as the CBN Governor?
And, by the way, what would Sanusi have said to the Christian community that Governor Smith when he was there did not think it necessary to tell, before he originally introduced the Islamic banking concept; or that his successor, Charles Soludo, a Christian, when he was there did not think it necessary to tell, before he approved it for the first time?
Or maybe the need to consult the Christian community before a legally-permissible right of the Muslim community is granted, has only suddenly become necessary on account of the increased divisiveness that the new dispensation, in spite of its fresh breath of ‘democratic’ air, has occasioned! So that the CBN should have caused a supplementary budget to be approved by NASS for the National Orientation Agency to commence massive awareness campaign on the need for ‘religious tolerance’, -before a legally permissible act under the statute should be accomplished!
Truly ‘forward’ have we ‘moved’ indeed! When, to introduce a simple non-interest, optional Islamic banking system for the benefit of 50 per cent of a community’s population, (without, in the least, tampering with the regular, so-called secular, banking system), the basics of ‘religious tolerance’ and ‘interfaith accommodation’ have to be thought anew to an intolerant section of that community which, ironically, also has the option, if it desires, to participate in any manner suitable to its religious designs.
Yet if, as the CBN Governor claimed, -and it has not been denied- that he was rebuffed by CAN when he proposed to attend their conclave to brief them on the legal, economic and religious nitty-gritty of the Islamic non-interest banking system, which benefits the Muslim without harming or interfering with the banking rights of non-Muslims, then what manner of ‘consultation’ are we talking about?
How can anyone who professes ‘God’, preaches ‘peace’ and advocates ‘religious tolerance’, be in opposition to a ‘legal right’ accrue-able to another? -under the ironic pretence that ‘truth’ will cause ‘tension’ in the land. If what we have is a country that ‘truth’ will put under ‘tension’, maybe, we have now mature to be told what Louise Farrakhan once said to racist America: “If truth will tear your country apart maybe you should not have had a country in the first place”