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Don’t trouble Nigeria

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This piece is written to address some of  the problems that have cropped up recently in this country, and to appeal to those who are bent on troubling this country to desist, forthwith, from doing so.

The people who are troubling this country should not conclude that the Federal Government under the presidency of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, is slow, but they should see it as a government that is taking its time to meticulously look at problems and challenges very carefully before taking steps to address them in the interest of multi-ethnic Nigeria.

To start with, my first appeal will go to the Anglo-Dutch company, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, SPDC, that has taken it upon itself to sell off oil wells in various Niger Delta communities, without seeking the knowledge of their host communities.

There is no need over-flogging the truth that the company is a tenant in nearly all the communities in the Niger Delta region where they have been drilling petroleum products for over half a century now. When they came in, they sought the knowledge and permission of their host communities before they began their drilling activities in the region. Why is it that they are going and are selling their vested interest in these drilling fields without informing the communities?

It is bad and their actions can spark off crisis in the Niger Delta region if not properly handled. The Niger Delta communities are no fools; they have been groaning under the heavy burden of under-development, malnutrition and under-nourishment for so many decades of gross abandonment by successive military and civilian governments as well as the oil companies operating in their areas, particularly, Shell.

Their economic lands have been depleted by oil spillages. Their lands no longer yield crops and their waters have lost fish to water pollution through oil spillages. They have been suffering. Should their oppression not end? Should they not heave sigh of relief from the oppressive habits of these oil giants operating in their areas? I will call on SPDC to try as much as possible to liaise with their host communities, negotiate their terms of leaving with them and put them in the know as to how the sale of the oil fields in their domains will affect them.

My next plea will go to the Christian community in Nigeria. Their attack on the Islamic banking system in Nigeria , to me, is uncalled for. It is uncalled for because I think it is not the name given to the Islamic bank that matters but how and what Nigerians stand to benefit from the system that matters. The Islamic banking system is a non-interest banking system.

I think the protagonists of this banking system have it in mind to attenuate the suffering which Nigerians – particularly those who are doing business– are facing when transacting business with the commercial banks in this country.

Needless to say that the interest rates of those banks are too high for the people to pay on each loan they take. So I think any banking system that will remove interest from loan taking from a bank cannot be adjudged a bad system, rather such system should be applauded.

But where the Christian community feels the name attached to the system is to Islamize Nigeria, an avenue is still open for the Christians, by way of establishing banks bearing, denoting or connoting Christianity in Nigeria.

That, the Christians, have failed to do. They have not even applied for registration, or let alone, license of operation, and they are denied the right and opportunity by the Central Bank or any other relevant government agencies. So, why are they fighting the Islamic banking system?

What I also find funny is that, even though the name, Islamic banking, appears to suggest or project Islamic practice, it is actually accessible to both the Christians and the Moslem alike in this country. For instance, one of the earliest Nigerians who approached an Islamic bank for a loan is from the Eastern part of the country, a state governor for that matter.

If a Christian could be given a loan from an Islamic bank, does it not imply that the Islamic banking system is for all Nigerians?

My next appeal goes to the Boko Haram fundamentalists. They should sheathe their swords and stop further traumatizing this nation. Nigeria is an indivisible entity and no single man or group of individuals should attempt to separate this nation on religious or economic ground. Nigeria is one, irrespective of the fact that it is a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic nation.

Ohief  Joseph Atseyinku, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Sapele, Delta State.

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