• ‘ How to resolve conflict to end national crisis’
In a paper dated July 31, 2019, National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), parading prominent Nigerians including Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN; a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen Theophilus Danjuma (ret.); Prof. Joseph Otubu; Major General Joshua Dogonyaro (ret.); Archbishop Magnus Atilade; Dr. Kate Okpareke; Dr. Ayo Abifarin; Major General Zamani Lekwot (ret.); Moses Ihonde; Elder Nat Okoro and Matthew Owojaiye, analysed the state of the nation, tracing the root of the current crisis in Nigeria to a conflict between democracy and Sharia ideology. The full text of the paper, under the title, ‘Are Nigerian Christians on a wild goose chase?’, is reproduced below:
It is very disturbing to observe the ease with which Nigerian elites, particularly Christians, are dribbled and sent on a wild goose chase on very sensitive national issues. There is the need, therefore, to re-state the core issues that are causing problems in Nigeria and what constitutes the solution. At this rate, those who have constituted themselves into enemies of Nigeria are having cheap victory.
Today, the following unpalatable evils define Nigeria as a country: corruption and sleaze at all levels, insecurity (bloodshed, sudden death, kidnapping, rape, etc), economic recession, broken down infrastructure, dysfunctional political system, fractured social relationships, ethnic suspicion and rivalry, one could go on and on. Two questions come to our mind:
- What is actually the cause of the problem?
- Who is managing the public discourse?
Let it be made clear for all that the problem of Nigeria is NOT one of the following:
- It is not Christians versus Muslims or Muslims versus Christians.
- It is not South versus North or North versus South
- It is not PDP versus APC or APC versus PDP
- It is not military versus civilians or civilians versus military
- It is not rich versus poor or masses versus the rich
- It is not poverty, unemployment, illiteracy or desert encroachment
Someone may quip, “So there is no threat of Islamization, after all?” There is an Islamization agenda and it is a serious threat. What needs to be understood is what constitutes the threat and this is discernible in the difference between a Muslim and an Islamist. A Muslim practices Islam as religion while an Islamist manipulates Islam as political ideology. This is the reason Islamism is referred to as “political Islam.” Islamism is a conscious attempt to manipulate religion as tool for political and cultural domination. While Islam is a religion, Islamism, otherwise called “political Islam”, “is a set of ideologies that holds that Islam is not only a religion but a political system”. As a political system, Islamists insist that Islam is meant to dominate the environment in which it is practiced. In a sharply divergent society like Nigeria, any attempt to implement the principles of Islamism portends great danger for the nation. It is this Islamist political ideology that is driving the crisis in Nigeria.
The problem of Nigeria is IDEOLOGICAL. It is simply DEMOCRACY versus SHARIA. This is the problem Nigerians need to solve. Nigeria is a democratic country under the invasion of Sharia ideology. This is the core problem that must be solved and every crisis will evaporate.
Every country in the world derives its identity and system of governance from its national ideology. Countries with Sharia ideology have a system of governance and way of life different from countries with communist ideology which is also different from countries with democratic ideology and so on. No country has two conflicting ideologies except, of course, Nigeria.
The 1999 Constitution is a compendium of dual conflicting ideologies pulling the country in two opposing directions. Unless this conflict is resolved, Nigeria will remain in turmoil because democracy and Sharia ideologies are antithetical to each other. The entire crisis in the country, summed up as corruption, mediocrity, insecurity and ethnicity, are consequences of the dual conflicting ideologies plaguing Nigeria.
The crisis commenced before independence and was solidified under the military regime when most of the military Heads of State were Muslims from the North. During the various conferences leading to independence, the impression was created that ALL Nigerians wanted democracy. Unknowingly to the other sections of the country, some northern Muslims preferred a system of governance of which Islamic law is a major ingredient. Relentlessly, they pursued this goal until they were able to smuggle Nigeria into OIC in 1986 and brought Islamic law and jurisprudence into the 1999 Constitution. Invariably, a country under Common Law became a country under Common Law and Sharia. In the ensuing conflict, one of the two has to give way because both cannot co-exist. That is the crisis going on now.
In recent times, skilful spin-masters have been manipulating public discourse with the intention of distracting attention from the real issues. While Nigerians keep pursuing shadows, they dig in their preferred ideology. Let us recap some of those distractions. A very observant person listed the following:
- From grazing route to grazing reserve
- From grazing reserve to grazing colony
- From grazing colony to ranching
- From ranching to importation of grass from Brazil for cattle
- From importation of grass to Fulani Radio
- From Fulani Radio to N100 billion paid to Miyetti Allah
- From N100 billion to RUGA
- From RUGA to e-registration
- From e-registration to military ranching
- From military ranching to, … what next?
The attention of Nigerians is constantly kept focused on symptoms while the real disease is eating away the body. And what is the real disease? It is conflict of ideologies. If you notice, few people are talking about that.
Since the inception of National Christian Elders Forum, the NCEF has been telling Nigerians that the problem of the country is the conflict of ideologies. On the 17th of March, 2016, NCEF addressed a press conference with a paper titled, ‘CONFLICT OF IDEOLOGIES AS THE GREATEST OBSTACLES TO PEACE, UNITY, AND DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA’. Other papers have been presented by the NCEF on this issue but it would appear that Christian elites are difficult to persuade with the truth.
While attention is focused on ranching and RUGA, consider what has been done to Nigeria, supposedly Common Law country:
- The Common Law position of Nigeria has given way to Sharia Law with the CJN as Sharia Lawyer.
- Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the country is Sharia Lawyer.
- Head of Law School is Sharia Lawyer.
- The 9th Assembly has legislators already mooting suggestions of amending the Constitution to provide for life Presidency. (This is Sharia, not democracy).
- The Federal Character Principle, one of the pillars of justice, equity and fairness in the Constitution, has been subverted. This is Sharia.
- The 2019 election is a classical example of Sharia in action. It was not a democratic contest.
The Islamists have made great strides in their goal to transmute Nigeria into an Islamic Sultanate since all the major structures of governance are under their control. They have been greatly helped by the “Islamist collaborators”, the compromising leaders in the Church and the traitors amongst ethnic leaders, mostly politicians and traditional rulers. These treacherous collaborators hunt with the hounds and run with the hare.
In an earlier paper on this subject, it was stated, “Nigerian’s political history is conflict-ridden due to untiring efforts to supplant the tested and acceptable liberal democratic ideals with the Sharia, which the British Colonial powers had rejected because of its restrictive, sectional, discriminatory and subjective theocratic bias; and the fact that it could not pass the “REPUGNANCY TEST”. Our national development has been hampered by the institutionalization of conflict through the unilateral infusion of the Sharia into the 1999 Constitution under the Islamic biased military dictatorship, as against the restrictive “Islamic personal law”, which had been adopted and applied by consensus since independence and national development.”
One is mystified by the outcry against RUGA in recent times as if RUGA is the problem. There is no difference between RUGA and Grazing Reserve, the difference is only in nomenclature. If Christians had devoted half the energy expended on combating RUGA on the real solutions, more progress would have been made for the country. Now that RUGA has been replaced with e-Registration which has also been followed by proposal for military to establish ranches all over the country, what would those fixated on RUGA do now?
There is the need to focus attention on the real issues and avoid distractions. Whoever wants to provide solution to the crisis in Nigeria should address the conflict between DEMOCRACY and SHARIA. Nigeria is a democratic country under Common Law and it should remain so.
What are the solutions?
- Every Nigerian with understanding should begin to agitate for a new Constitution that is based wholly on Liberal Democracy and Parliamentary System of Government. This is the ideology agreed upon by the founding fathers of Nigeria and the only ideology that could accommodate all the divergent groups in the country. Nigeria needs a NEW Constitution.
- Implementation of the Report of the 2014 National Conference as precursor to restructuring the country.
- Establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the basis for healing, forgiveness and reconciliation of all the divergent groups in the country.
*The Willink’s Commission Report of 1958, states as follows:
“The whole structure of the proceedings leading to independence is based on the belief that Nigeria meant to follow the road of liberal democracy and parliamentary government and to base part of the structure on the opposite assumption is to invite government to do their worst. But if the road is followed (liberal democracy and parliamentary government), votes will count and in the last resort it is votes that will win fair treatment for minorities”
Every energy, advocacy, and intervention should be directed on these solutions. These are the solutions.
It is time to stop chasing the wild goose.