Sultan: No plan to Islamise Nigeria
Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, says nobody can Islamise Nigeria, noting that if God had wanted, he would have made all Nigerians Muslims, adding that the ongoing national conference must be significant to national growth and unity.
Speaking yesterday at the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI) Golden Jubilee lecture held in Kaduna, the sultan said contrary to allegations by some non-Muslims, there are no plans by Muslims to convert non-Muslims to Islam just as nobody can Christianize the country.
“So, why are we fighting? Let us live together as God has created us to be Christians and Muslims. Christianity and Islam should not be seen as an accident of history but as God’s design which cannot be changed by anyone.”
“We should go about our religions peacefully and let God judge who is right and who is wrong. I encourage non-Muslims to bear with us because we are not out to challenge anybody,” he said.
While identifying insecurity as the current most pressing challenge in the country, he said the JNI would not stop talking about it until something is done to address the problem. He also condemned cattle rustling which according to him is becoming rampant.
“Everyday, hundreds of people are killed, especially in the North-east. We are worried about the number of Christians, Muslims, Fulanis and innocent people killed every time and that is why we always condemn such cruel acts”, he added.
He urged Christians to partner with Muslims to find solution to the security challenge facing the country, saying, “We are not out to fight for religion or fight anybody. Islam is a religion of peace and we are for peace and not violence,” he said.
Commenting on the ongoing national conference, the sultan said: “We don’t want it to be another jamboree that will not bring meaningful development to the country. As Muslims, we are for peace, whoever is our leader, we support him and we will tell him the truth.” He assured President Goodluck Jonathan of Muslim support while noting that attempts by the JNI to criticize some government policies does not mean fighting the government or any group, but that it should be seen as a wake-up call for government and those in positions of leadership to rise to their responsibilities.
In his paper titled; ‘Nigerian Muslims and the JNI: Strengths, achievements, prospects and challenges’, Professor Shehu Galadanci, a former Nigerian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said the JNI in its 50 years of existence has made efforts towards strengthening the faith and knowledge of Muslims, efforts at uniting Muslims as well as efforts towards promotion of good and the prohibition of evil.
Funding, he said, is one of the major challenges facing JNI, noting that since its establishment, JNI has never depended on government funds but on donations from individuals and organisations from within and outside Nigeria.
“If JNI is to continue to expand its activities, it requires much more funding and it therefore has to considerably broaden and diversify its sources of funding,” he noted.
He further said Muslims in Nigeria were marginalised in the composition of delegates to the ongoing national conference. “According to figures given, there are 189 Muslims compared to 304 Christians, a ration of almost 2 to 1. Even when the sultan led a high powered delegation from the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to protest to President Goodluck Jonathan over the imbalance, the government did nothing to correct it,” he said.
Also, in his goodwill message, Vice President Namadi Sambo said the present administration has supported JNI in its programmes to tackle insecurity and illiteracy through the establishment of almajiri model schools in many states in the North. He assured JNI of the federal government’s commitment towards addressing the constant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in some northern states.
Governor Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna State in his remark urged JNI to begin to identify ways of actively engaging in inter-faith dialogue, especially with Christian organisations across the country. The objective of such interaction he said is to devise means of promoting peaceful co-existence for the development of the country, noting that without peace and stability, there can be no meaningful development and the country will economically stagnate while majority of the people irrespective of faith would wallow in abject poverty.
“It is therefore a collective responsibility, especially on the part of the JNI and similar bodies in the country, to galvanise the people towards achieving lasting peace and security. At this historic stage, I wish to urge JNI, especially as we enter the golden age of its formation, to begin to take necessary steps in addressing internal misunderstandings within the religion. It is imperative for Muslims to uphold the bond of faith in sustaining our brotherhood as servants of Allah”, he said.