EVEN ARAB COUNTRIES NOW REJECT ISLAMIC BANKING
Continued from Tuesday
In any case, Islam or Sharia does not have the copyright or monopoly on interest- free banking. The function can be performed by any conventional bank that so desires. It does not have to have religious connotation or to come from a religious bank.
So, if Sanusi is not a Sharia agent and feels strongly enough about interest-free banking, all that he needs to do is give licenses or the go ahead to any number of the currently registered Nigerian banks or foreign conventional banks so willing, to add interest-free products to their banking portfolio without religious connotations, restrictions or limitations on customers.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi maintains that Islamic banking would help tackle the problems of tobacco smoking, alcoholism, gambling and prostitution, etc. in Nigeria. In the first place, I doubt if these problems are peculiar to or worst in Nigeria. The power to make laws for and against tobacco and alcohol indulgence and commerce or the prohibition of gambling and prostitution in Nigeria is vested exclusively by the Nigerian Constitution in the National Assembly. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, does not agree with this, however.
He believes his power as the CBN Governor supersedes that of the Nigerian National Assembly and allows him to transfer the power to institutions of his choice, including banks, local or foreign, to ban trading in tobacco, alcohol,prostitution, gambling and such other ethical fixations, at least.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi says Islamic banking focuses on financial intermediation, as opposed to innovation. Is that a virtue? Without innovations, where would the world be today? He says, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is financing some Fadama II projects in two Northern and one Eastern states. The Eastern state, Anambra, has since denied taking any such IDB facility. If the other two Northern states took the facilities, Yar'Adua got us into the trap.
What the IDB provided as aid, is on the average N140 million (less than a million dollars), per state. The nearly half a trillion naira allegedly stolen by Nigerian banks' executives could have taken care of that a million fold, instead of exposing us as a country so cheaply to the ridicule of being aided with pittance, all in the effort of deviously imposing Sharia banking on Nigeria?
A country which is already a melting pot of bitter non-native religious rivalries and acrimonies, and where the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, with the active support of Maghreb's Al-Qaida sects from neighbouring countries, is now throwing bombs daily, killing dozens of innocent people in public places and sackingchurches and police stations to precipitate a jihad.
The timing to introduce Sharia banking in Nigeria is, therefore, not only extremely troubling; it is an affront to the collective ambition and acumen of a people, struggling desperately to evolve a common destiny.
In October 2002 Sanusi published a paper on 'The Hudhood Punishments in Northern Nigeria: A Muslim Criticism.' In July 2003, he presented
'The Shari'a Debate and the Construction of a 'Muslim' identity in Northern Nigeria: A Critical Perspective,' at a seminar at the university of Bayreuth in Germany. In August 2003 he presented 'Democracy, Rights and Islam: Theory, Epistemology and the Quest for Synthesis' at an International Conference in Abuja on Shar'ah panel and Family Law in Nigeria and in the Muslim World: A rights-Based Approach.' These documents confirm Sanusi's preoccupation and ambition for Nigeria.
NAIWU OSAHON poet and author is leader of World Pan-African Movement.