The lawmaker, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, and a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, have disagreed on the claim by the National Christian Elders’ Forum that there is an underground move by Islamic leaders to impose an Islamic agenda on Nigeria.
While Sani, in a Facebook post on Friday, said it was unfair to accuse the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of having such an agenda, Fani-Kayode, in his Facebook post, on Sunday, endorsed the position of the group.
Sani warned that the position of the Christian group could worsen the ethno-religious crisis in the country, but Fani-Kayode argued that it was those who killed Christians and practise “stealth jihad” who wanted to set the country on fire.
Retired generals and eminent Christian elders, under the aegis of the NCEF, had, at a meeting on Thursday, observed that Nigeria was drifting towards a needless conflict that could culminate in another war, if not well managed.
Those in attendance at the meeting included Solomon Asemota (SAN), Lt. Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (retd.), Lt. Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd.), Moses Ihonde, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), Shyngle Wigwe and Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife.
The elder statesmen, in a communiqué issued after the meeting, stated that Jihad or holy Islamic war had been launched in the country to eradicate democracy and supplant the constitution.
Sani, however, stated, “It is unfair to President Buhari for any individual or group to accuse him or his administration of having any theocratic agenda. Other issues raised about his administration may or may not be true but, certainly, he is not a religious bigot.
“If there exists credible evidence of a religious agenda, I will be one of the first to raise a voice.
“Elder statesmen should champion the cause of peace and national unity and not aggravate the crisis. In this inflammable or combustible state of our country, we don’t need more bellows of ethnic smokes or religious flames.”
But Fani-Kayode disagreed with Sani.
His post read, “I commend the Elder Solomon Asemota (SAN) and Lt. Gen. T. Y. Danjuma-led Christian elders’ forum for warning the Buhari government to stop attempting to Islamise Nigeria, and I wholeheartedly endorse their position.
“It is those that kill Christians and practise stealth jihad that will set this country on fire and not Asemota, T.Y. Danjuma and the Christian elders. Their concerns are legitimate, their observations are pertinent and their counsel is wise. They have spoken the minds of the over 90 million Nigerian Christians.
‘‘Anything short of that will be unacceptable, will lead to greater division and will have devastating and long-term consequences for the future of our country.”
JNI attacks Danjuma, Christian elders
Also, the Jama’atu Nasir Islam has rejected claims by the retired Generals and members of the NCEF that Nigeria is drifting towards being Islamised.
The Muslim body, headed by the Sultan, described the claim as unfortunate, especially coming from a respected elder like Danjuma and others in the Christian forum.
The National Secretary of the JNI, Dr. Aliyu Abubakar-Khalid, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Sunday, argued that the allegations were mere diversion from the “genocide” being perpetrated against Muslims in Taraba State.
He observed that there was nothing to show that such a plot was in the offing as no Christian in the land had been forced to denounce his faith.
Abubakar-Khalid argued that instead of the Christian elders dwelling on issues capable of dividing the country, such as the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra and other related problems, the Forun had chosen to hammer on “what does not exist.”
The JNI secretary stated, “It is unfortunate for elders to behave this way.
“Are there any Christians in this country that have been asked to denounce their faith?
“This is a mere gimmick and a trick in order to bury the ‘genocidal’ killing of defenceless Muslims and they are talking about Nigeria drifting towards Islamisation and Sharia.”
Group, ex-gov’s wife disagree with NCEF
Also, the Kwara State Commander, United Nigeria Chaplaincy, Mr. Babatunde Adeyinka, and the wife of a former Military Administrator of Bauchi and Osun states, Mrs. Jumoke Bamgboye, have said they agreed with the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, that there are no plans to Islamise Nigeria.
Bamgboye spoke in an interview with one of our correspondents during the graduation/prize giving ceremony of Roemichs International School, Ilorin, Kwara State, on Saturday while Adeyinka spoke during a peace walk of the group in Ilorin.
But Bamgboye, who spoke as the Chairman, Parent-Teacher Association, RIS, said the fusion of Islamic and Christian Religious Knowledge to a subject would not lead to the Islamisation of Nigeria.
She said, “They are speaking for themselves; I disagree with them. Nigeria can never be Islamised. The issue is that religion has become a problem in Nigeria.
“I do not think anybody can Islamise Nigeria. Nigeria is a country where one person or a group of persons can not force others to join a particular religion because at the end of the day, it is going to split Nigeria into many sections.”
On his part, Adeyinka stated that the peace walk of the group was in support of a united Nigeria.
He said, “I strongly disagree with most of these sayings (Islamisation of Nigeria) because Nigeria, as we know, is a secular country. We have Christians, Muslims and traditional religion.
“Such argument should not have come up at this crucial time in Nigeria. People are only saying it for saying case. It is not true. We should be critical about it. I am not in support but I do not believe it is true.”