By Babatunde Oyewole
IN 2001 at an Islamic seminar in Kaduna, Buhari was given an opportunity to choose between Nigeria’s secularism and fundamentalist Islam, this is what he said; “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria”, he then added that; “God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country”.Buhari an advocate of sharia was chosen to address that seminar in Kaduna because of his advocacy and he did not disappoint because he is one of the boardroom voices of Sharia.
The boardroom advocates emboldened the weak minded and impressionable youths and female suicide bombers. Those who prepare such extremist point to such “moral exemplars” that dying for Sharia is a worthy cause. It does not matter if one is campaigning by selling democracy to unsuspecting non-Muslims like a salesman selling snake-oil, they all have a common goal but different modus operandi. The boardroom voices, the elite prepare breeding ground for the field-soldiers, they prepare the ideological diet upon which the adherents feed.
Today many Nigerians are concerned that our society has degenerated to a point where people wake up on a particular day and go to public places like a market to kill their neighbours with bombs. But these bombers did not just wake up one day to take such a fatalistic decision. The suicide bomber dies for a cause after a lengthy ideological and psychological diet . A cause he or she has been made to believe to be a worthy cause, It is immaterial that the suicide bomber has chosen a course of action different from the other advocates of the cause, but they have similar objectives, to spread Sharia to every corner of Nigeria, and in that goal, Boko Haram and other fundamentalists have many elite who have created a breeding ground for their actions in Nigeria.
Other elite voice who have helped to ensure the social and political mobilization against Nigeria’s secular status, and who create a breeding ground for groups like Boko Haram include, former governor Kure of Kaduna state who was also in the same Kaduna seminar with Buhari. At the aforementioned seminar, the then Governor Kure urged all council members to ensure that the Nigerian constitution was “upgraded” in all states to ensure that the basic objectives of the Sharia legal code was achieved all over Nigeria. He gained the support of other elite such as former minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sani Zango Daura, as well as emir of Suleja, Alhaji Awwal Ibrahim, who refused to pay a condolence visit to the Suleja church that was bombed by Boko Haram on a Christmas day until political pressure was put on him.
These boardroom voices of sharia have not concealed their position. It is only other Nigerians who have tried to polish their position to make it an acceptable perception for political convenience, but the advocates for the spread of sharia to every facet of Nigerian life have never disguise their goal. For instance, a very notable advocate of Sharia, Senator Sani Yerima, former governor of Zamfara state, robustly defended his advocacy and had the support of several other elite with similar conviction in the Senate when the status of women was being debated. To make his sharia values clear, Yerima who had earlier defended his marriage to a 13 year old in contradiction of Section 21 of the Child Welfare Act told the Senate that, when a woman is married at whatever age even at 11years, she instantaneously reaches the full age of adulthood. This is not very different from recent laws purveyed by ISIL which justified enslavement of girls, including their defilement if they are non-Muslim captives.
This is the type of ideological commitment that Buhari will bring to the presidency if voted in. It is quite easy to state on television and radio interviews that he is bound by Nigerian laws as if its only when he occupies the office of the presidency that he will be bound by the law of the land. When he becomes head of state who will be there at those quite moments when this values influence his decisions on official matters? He has made his ideological position quite clear when he stated in the Kaduna seminar that the spread of Sharia is ‘’a legal responsibility which God has given us, within the context of one Nigeria to continue to uphold the practice of Sharia wholeheartedly and to educate non-Muslims, what remains for muslims in Nigeria is for them to redouble their efforts,educate muslims on the need to promote the full implementation of sharia law”Buhari has made his advocacy for sharia clear, those who wish to vote him to power can either accept it or pretend that it does not matter, just as those who said naively that Yerima was harmless later expresed shock when he eventually stopped the Senate from reviewing our laws on the legal age of a woman and we are today stuck with his sharia version.
As Boko Haram has demonstrated viciousness, so shall we will come to find that Buhari, a promoter and advocate of Sharia as president of the federal government of Nigeria would direct the thinking of his adherents and their attitude to governance. This would spell doom for all non muslims in Nigeria that Gen.Buhari said should be educated to accept and embrace sharia now being enforced by Boko Haram through violence and killings.
*Mr. Oyewolw, a political analyst, wrote from Abuja.