THE Presidency has in recent weeks expressed discordant views over Nigeria’s Islamic identity or rather membership of Islamic organizations.
It came to many Nigerians as a shock when President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed Nigeria’s membership of the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism, founded and preponderantly sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Islamic financial institutions.
President Buhari admitted this in an interview with Al-Jazeera while on a visit to Doha, Qatar. He justified Nigeria’s membership on the presence terrorists in Nigeria who, he said, claim to be Muslims. “We are part of it (the Islamic coalition) because we have got terrorists in Nigeria that everybody knows which claim that they are Islamic. So, if there’s an Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, Nigeria will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism,” Buhari had declared.
Buhari said he discussed Nigeria’s membership of the coalition with King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz during their meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when he visited the country recently.
Ironically, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Garba Shehu, had earlier said that President Buhari rejected the offer given to Nigeria by Saudi Arabia to join the Coalition of Islamic States against terrorism.
President Buhari had traveled to Saudi Arabia on February 22, 2019, where he had bilateral talks with King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz on how to stabilise the plummeting price of oil which has adversely affected Nigeria’s ability to fund its 2016 budget, as well as on other global issues.
Garba Shehu had narrated that President Buhari and King Salman had extensive talks on global issues and both agreed that terrorism is a threat to their countries and therefore need close cooperation to eradicate it.
“Even though President Buhari did not accept the invitation offered to Nigeria to be a part of the Coalition of Islamic States against Terror spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, he did say ‘even if we are not a part of it, we support you,” Garba had declared.
Did Garba misinform Nigerians and the international community or were there circumstantial pressures that compelled President Buhari to change his mind?
President Buhari had in Mecca accepted an offer by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to organize a financing roundtable in Abuja to mobilize more funds for investment and development of infrastructure in Nigeria.
The President of the IDB, Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, made the offer at a meeting with President Buhari while on the recent official visit to Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Ali had promised a Buhari that the IDB will work with its traditional partners such as the Saudi Fund, the Kuwait Fund, Arab Bank for Development in Africa and the Abu Dhabi Fund, to increase the quantum of funding available to Nigeria.
The IDB had already provided US$ 98 million for the Bilingual Education Program in Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun and Yobe states.
The bank plans to support similar projects in other states of Nigeria.
Perhaps, joining the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism was a pre-condition for benefiting from the Islamic Development Bank financial largess.
The project, however, heightens the fear of Islamization of Nigeria by the Buhari administration.
This fear is further intensified by the Executive Bill on “Kaduna State Religious Preaching Law No… of 2016” sponsored and presented to the Kaduna State House of Assembly by Governor Nasir El-Rufai.