*Asks FG not to ignore OBJ, Soyinka, others on ‘Fulanisation’ claim
*Purge yourself of Islamophobia, MURIC fires back

Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of engaging in unconstitutionality by attending the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)  Summit currently holding in Saudi Arabia.

The body noted that OIC prides itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”, frowning that it was the first assignment of Buhari after being sworn-in for second term.

President Muhammadu Buhari at the 14th Islamic Summit in Makkah Saudi Arabia

“We wonder if the President is ready to attend the meeting of the World Council of Churches or be asking the Vice President to represent him whenever the members meet”, the President of CAN, Rev. Dr. Samson `Supo Ayekunle, said in a statement.

The President was sworn-in for second term on Wednesday.

Barely 24 hours later, he jetted out for the OIC Summit in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

The Christian body also commented on the alleged ‘Fulanisation’ agenda  in Nigeria and indeed West  Africa, counselling the Federal Government against ignoring warnings from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Pastor Tunde Bakare and Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, among others on the issue.

Meanwhile, a pro-Muslim group fired back, saying those criticising Buhari for attending the OIC Summit “are in urgent need of anti-Islamaphobia  vaccine”.

Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) also said Obasanjo crossed the red line for accusing the President of ‘Fulanisation’ and Islamisation agenda.

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‘Unconstitutionality’

On Buhari’s trip to Saudi Arabia, CAN said: “With all the cries we have made about the unconstitutionality of Nigeria’s membership of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) after being sworn-in, going for such a conference was still the first assignment of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is an organisation which states it is `the collective voice of the Muslim world’ and works to `safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony’.

“Are the government officials listening to those who voted them into power at all? Is the government not heating up the polity? We all remember how Nigeria was smuggled into OIC during military regime. We wonder if the President is ready to attend the meeting of the World Council of Churches or be asking the Vice President to represent him whenever the members meet”.

CAN  appealed to the President, as he begins his second term, to have a blueprint for the security challenges facing the country, saying he  should see the whole country as his and avoid lopsided appointments in every facet of the government, especially those  concerning security chiefs.

“The security councils and other agencies of the government must not be dominated by people who share same faith and ethnicity with him. This is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria. The preponderance of the Fulani people at the corridors of power is what Chief Obasanjo refers to as Fulanisation agenda”, the group said..

‘Noble warnings’

It asked  the Federal Government to listen to Obasanjo on his counsel over  the alleged ‘Fulanisation’ and  Islamisation agenda instead of resorting to disrespecting him and misinterpreting his noble warnings to the nation.

“The likes of Obasanjo are treated as honourable statesmen and institutions in developed nations like the United States  and the United Kingdom, but here, we abuse our former leaders and pour venoms on them whenever their thoughts are critical to government’s action or policies the group said.

“This is not only unfortunate but exposes us as a people that have lost their moral values. Obasanjo sacrifices a lot for this nation in order to make it one and great! He deserves respect and his pronouncements should be treated with caution. The truth is evident for those who care to see the danger of Obasanjo’s warning except those who are either part of the agenda or are just being mischievous.

“There are people who prefer to call CAN names, and they say the way we talk about Islamisation is like we are looking for demons to cast out. If Obasanjo talks and the government is not ready to listen, then, who can tell them the truth? This position of Obasanjo was equally supported by Professor Wole Soyinka, Pastor Tunde Bakare and Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, a  former Chairman of the ruling party among others. This shows that this is a serious matter that should not be waved aside but treated as a matter of national urgency. If the Fulanis love our President who is their blood brother, they should not be causing problems in the society for him. They are supposed to be the most well behaved”.

Citing the case of the genocide in Kaduna as part of injustice in Nigeria, CAN said: “How many of the suspected herdsmen involved in the barbarian attacks were arrested by security men?”

CAN alleged that in many states in the North, churches are being denied of certificate of occupancy, saying this is a ploy to allow excuses to be given later for churches to be pulled down “whenever religious fanatics are in government in those states”.

The group rejoiced with Obasanjo for escaping death in a near plane mishap in Lagos last week.

Backlash 

In its response to the CAN statement, Afenifere and Ohanaeze’s positions on the OIC issue, MURIC, in a statement by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, accused critics of Islamophobia.

“It is pathological hatred. Those who are allergic to transparency, those who have phobia for due process, those who are ethnic bigots and those who are deeply entrenched in acrobatic religiousity are ganging up under the banner of gymnastic Islamophobia. The old order cometh again. CAN, Afenifere, Ohaneze are all Muslim-haters and what they need urgently is anti-Islamophobia vaccine”, the Muslim group said.

“Come to think of it. 53 heads of state out of the 57 member-states of the OIC are being expected at the summit and majority of them are not even Muslims. Why are they singling out PMB?”

MURIC threatened to give proportionate response to any attack on Islam from any quarter no matter how highly positioned. “Those who want to attack PMB’s government are free to do so. We may ignore them. But anyone who uses religion as a launching pad to attack any Muslim leader (not PMB alone) will have MURIC to contend with”, it said.

“That is where OBJ crossed the red line. He accused PMB of Fulanisation and Islamisation. We have no problem with the former because it is a mirage. Fulanisation exists only in the imagination of those who concocted it. In reality, Nigerians have either consciously or otherwise turned Fulanis into an endangered specie, pushed from pillar to post. However, the ex-president has just exposed himself as an ethnic jingoist.

“OBJ’s allegation of Islamisation is what we find strange and disturbing coming from a man with his record of accommodating Muslims, personally sponsoring Islamic projects (e.g. his presidential library in Abeokuta contains a mosque), patronising Islamic scholars for spiritual invocation and also organizing interfaith dialogue. So what informed the 360 degree turn-around?”

The group asked the leadership of CAN not to start the old firebrand rivalry all over again. CAN should stop crying wolf where there is none. Neither should CAN continue to heat up the polity or whip up anti-Muslim sentiments. We invite CAN to peaceful coexistence. Let us live and let live. We were all here when ex-president Jonathan turned Jerusalem to Aso Rock’s backyard and the Muslims said nothing about it. CAN should eschew selective criticism”.

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