Delegates Seek Solution to Religious Crisis


Deliberations on the speech by President Goodluck Jonathan as a road-map

for the on-going National Conference continued on Monday with delegates

dwelling on hair-raising issues that were either controversial or of

national significance.
For instance, a delegate on the platform of the Supreme Council for

Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Nurudeen Lemu, pulled the hall to its feet in a

standing ovation (which was a breach of the Conference Standing Rules)

when he combined sound logic and eloquence to deliver a message that

touched the need for religious harmony in Nigeria.

Lemu told the delegates that God Almighty is neither a religious nor

ethnic bigot and that the problem with Nigerians is that both Muslims and

Christians always over-estimate their virtues while down-playing the

goodness in others.
He almost drew tears in the hall when he condemned both the murdering and

the murderers of Christians and Muslims in the country under the cover of

Here is a part of what he said, “as a delegate and as a people

representing people of faith in God from Islamic perspective, one thing we

believe is that God will protect the community that stands for justice

even if they are not Muslims and God will not protect the community that

goes contrary to justice even if they call themselves Muslims.

“God is not a religious bigot. He is not a male chauvinist. He is not an

ethno-centric tribalist. God is not the oppressor of anyone. God is with

those who care, those who want for others those things they want for

“One tendency for people who claim to follow a religion is to slide into

the position of believing that they are better than the others. We

over-estimate our virtues and under-estimate the goodness in others.

“The tendency is for us to be spiritually arrogant and forget that others

are people like us. And if you are in other person's position, you

probably will be like someone else.
“As delegates from the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, we condemn the

murder and the murderers of all Christians; we condemn the murder and the

murderers of all Muslims; not because they are Christians or Muslims but

because they are all human beings—creatures of God.

“There is no compulsion in religion. We all own Nigeria. We all belong

here. And we all have rights to self-determination. We should respect that

right and do onto others what we will do onto ourselves.

“Every ethnic group is an oppressed minority somewhere. Every majority or

settlers is an indigene somewhere. In one way or the other, we are all

“We just don't remember where we came from and why we came. But

ultimately, we are all visitors to this planet; from God we came and to

Him we will return.
“As Muslim delegates, we come against the exploitation of religion and

religious sentiments; we come against stereotyping, stigmatizing and

dehumanization of each other. We come against the use of religion as a

political decoy and distraction from the critical things that bedevil our

“I pray that at the end of this conference, we will all grow in our

humanity and respect for each other.”
On a seemingly controversial note, Mrs. Yemi Mahmoud-Fasominu called for

the establishment of a special court where issues of rape and other

criminal acts against women would be addressed.
She went further to demand that a law setting up such a court must specify

that convicted perpetrators of such a crime should be castrated to serve

as deterrence to others.
At this point, the hall exploded either in cheers or in jeers. It was

difficult to determine.
Zamani Lekwot, a retired general, said beyond the courage and wisdom by

Jonathan to convoke the conference, selection of delegates has accorded

every section of the society an opportunity to be represented.

He did a quick analysis of the security situation in Nigeria especially

regarding the murderous insurgency in northern Nigeria and concluded that

the creation needed what he called a standing frontier force to protect

the Nigerian borders.
Lekwot said the functions of the force should include curbing illegal

movements in and out of the country and most importantly halting with

military precision any infiltration by insurgents and other criminals.

Ambassador Yusuf Mamman said the violence in the north that has led to

several deaths and loss of property presents an ideological challenge that

has defied the use of military force and that the conference must find a

way out.
On education, he said beautiful as the issue of the Almajari school

concept may sound, government should de-secularise education by bringing

the Almajari education in the mainstream curriculum instead of giving it a

special treatment.
Ambasador Hassan Adamu in his comments said the Conference presents a good

opportunity to talk rather than to fight and declared his belief that

something positive will emerge from the Conference.

He said the Conference should focus on job creation; peace and security;

elimination of corruption at all levels; justice for all, patriotism,

qualitative education; and security of residents in every part of the

country; adding, “Nigeria is waiting for us to offer solutions.”

Another delegate, Adeniyi Akintola, said it was pathetic that whenever the

issue of corruption was being discussed, those who should be in jail for

corrupt practices are the most vocal.
Akintola disclosed that if government were to compare the assets of public

office holders between when they entered public service and at the time of

departure, all of them, including former state governors, would be in

He said sometimes, public officers declared in their assets form what they

do not have and on entering public office would begin stealing desperately

to meet the target earlier declared. He said there should be a way where

assets and tax payments should be put side by side as a way of checking

fraudulent declarations.
Wednesday session however started with a motion by Dr Bello Mohammed

asking the Federal Government to take drastic action against people

engaged in the act of kidnapping and other violence.

He drew the attention of the Conference to last week's abduction of Chief

Edwin Clark's son and prayed that the Conference should send a letter of

felicitation to the 86 year-old delegate after the release of the son last

Engineer Adefemi Kila, who seconded the motion, said the ineffectiveness

of the local government administration in the country is to be blamed for

the high rise in crime rate nationwide.
He said, “These kidnappers, these Boko Haram members, they are not

spirits; they live with us. They can be identified.” He called on the

federal government to do more in the area of security, adding, “our lives

also are not safe.” While contributing later, Kila described Nigeria as

being very sick in abject poverty; sick in the spiritual sense “and that

is why we have problems of how to serve our God; it is a terrible

spiritual poverty.”
Still on the issue of local government status, Nasiru Ibrahim Jinju said

it was high time government ensured in practical terms, the autonomy of

local government councils.
So far, he said, state governors have held council areas by the neck by

not allowing them to function independently. He explained that most of the

security problems faced by the nation could be traced to non-functionality

of local government councils.
Professor Sambo Junaido from Sokoto described the President's speech as

comprehensive and that it touched on several aspects of the lives of

Nigerians. He appealed for speedy implementation of the resolutions that

would be arrived at in the course of the Conference.

Is'haq Modibbo Kawu of the Nigerian Guild of Editors told the Conference

that poor economic management is the main cause of Nigeria's problem; he

described a situation where a state governor is richer than the state

based on his ability to steal.
Ibrahim Khaleel was of the opinion that insurgency is a product of the

bastardisation of the local government structure which has made it

impossible for people at the grassroots to feel the impact of governance.

Remi Kuku called on every Nigerian to repent. She said if Nigerians were

to love one another as their religions teach them, there would be no room

for bickering and religious enmity.
Mohammed Kumalia reminded the delegates that the spirit of the speech made

by Jonathan was for everyone to put aside their prejudices and parochial

feelings and talk Nigeria instead of their ethnic groups.

He said if representations at the Conference were through election, it

would have been impossible for most of the delegates to have been there to

discuss issues of national importance as they affect their different

Ledum Mitee from Rivers State reminded the conference of the need to

attach practical solutions to issues raised at the Conference and for

government to act in accordance with the wish of the people.

He told a story of how he met some Niger Delta youths during an awareness

campaign and confronted them on why they were breaking pipelines only to

be told that since all government plans are always in the pipeline, they

were breaking the pipelines to bring them out.
Bello Mohammed in his contribution said there was nobody in the north who

does not know about the environmental problems faced by the Niger Delta

people; and that no southerner could claim ignorance of existing poverty

and illiteracy in the north.
He said what is required is for both groups to agree on solution to the

existing problems both in the north and in the south instead of behaving

as though only one part of the country has problems.

A 24 year old girl, Yadomah Bukar Mandara, who said her father died

exactly one year ago, moved the hall with her presentation when she spoke

concerning the rise of insurgency in the country.
She said, “so many children have turned orphans. So many women have turned

widows. We must unite to fight our common enemies. Our common enemies know

no Christian. Our common enemies know no Muslim. Let us unite against