DURING President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent diplomatic visit to Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries in the Middle East, it transpired that the President was trying to commit Nigeria into an alliance involving the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism, an alliance of Islamic States. Apprehensive Nigerians quickly began to ask questions. Buhari’s adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, immediately gave the lie to the “rumour”, because even he knew that such a move could never be contemplated by the President or any person without reference to the National Assembly.
About a fortnight after his aide denied that his boss ever thought of such a move, President Buhari confirmed to his interviewer on the Al-Jazeera television that Nigeria had become a member of the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism, stating, most unconvincingly, that “we are part of it because we have got terrorists in Nigeria who claim that they are Islamic. So, is there is an Islamic Coalition to fight terrorism, Nigeria will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism.”
This has thrown up a host of gnawing questions: first, doesn’t the name of the Coalition alone, “Islamic Coalition”, suggest that the group of countries in the Coalition consists only of Islamic countries? And is Nigeria an Islamic theocracy? Or does the fact that the President of Nigeria is a Moslem make Nigeria a Muslim State? Does this administration not insist that Boko Haram “is technically defeated”? So, after terrorism has been fully vanquished in Nigeria in the foreseeable future, would Nigeria opt out of the Islamic Coalition or continue to contribute Nigerian soldiers to go and fight and die fighting terrorism in Arab lands, where there is no end to Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism? Doesn’t the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), in its section 12 (1) of the Constitution provide that no such alliance of the nature of a treaty shall have the force of law unless it has been enacted into law by the National Assembly? Shouldn’t the uproar that accompanied retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s surreptitious inclusion of Nigeria, a secular State, in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) have taught Buhari a lesson?
President Muhammadu Buhari ought to know the sensitive nature of religion in Nigeria. It came as a surprise to trusting Nigerians who believe that terrorism in Nigeria has been “technically defeated” to hear that Buhari thought that Nigeria had to join an all-Moslem alliance to overcome terrorism in Nigeria. It might be interesting to know if there is a single non-Islamic State in the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism. Could the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Portugal, Sweden and such other non-Muslim States, join the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism? Isn’t our membership of that group an attempt to Islamize Nigeria through the back door as Babangida ineffectually tried to do in 1986?
In the light of the numerous questions posed in the last but one paragraph, it is not late for President Buhari to beat a fast retreat from Nigeria’s membership of the so-called Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism. We believe that intrepid Nigerian soldiers, with the cooperation of friendly neighbouring countries like Niger, Cameroon, Chad and the Republic of Benin, are up to the task of defeating the Boko Haram insurrection in Nigeria. The gallant Nigerian soldiers did it before: they fought and won a more terrible war, the Nigerian Civil War; they can do it again, if properly trained, retrained and encouraged, in terms of adequate modern war weapons and personal welfare of the men and officers of the Army and other security agencies. Nigeria cannot form a fighting alliance with Islamic States, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, etc. that are forever at war with themselves. And Nigeria should stop behaving as if she was tied to the religious or political apron strings of Saudi Arabia or of any other country. Never!