During the week, one of the major issues that trended in the social media is the rumour(?) that Nigeria is now a member of the Organisation of Islamic Community (OIC), a phenomenon that sparked students’ riots in the 90’s.
The issue arose from the interview President Muhammadu Buhari granted Al Jazera TV where he agreed that Nigeria was a member of the Coalition of Islamic Countries against terrorism. It was one of the outcomes of his recent tour of the middle east countries.
Given the pounding Nigeria has received from terror gangs led by the notorious Boko Haram, one will be tempted to say that whatever and however the Islamic terrorists will be exterminated, not just “degraded”, should be supported and encouraged.
This is especially as the Boko Haram has operated without deference to religious affinity. Both Muslims and Christians have been at the receiving end of their attacks.
However, it is curious that Mr President not only unilaterally took Nigeria into such a coalition without recourse to even the National Assembly, the identity and nomenclature of the coalition is suspect.
Yes, I can reason that the said countries are just concerned on how to deal with the menace of terrorism across the globe, yet I worry that it is only Islamic countries that are in such a coalition. Why are non-Islamic countries who have also been victims of terror attacks not members of the coalition?
The Foreign Affairs minister, Godfrey Onyema had explained that it has nothing to do with religion, stressing that the Islamic countries are worried about their image since terrorism is being perceived as a part of Islam, hence they are determined to fight it and prove that they have nothing to do with terrorism.
But the mere appendage of the coalition as being that of “Islamic Countries” suggests that Nigeria is an Islamic country, if Nigeria belongs to the coalition. And that is the sore point. Mr Honourable minister, Is Nigeria an Islamic country as to warrant being in a coalition so described for whatever purpose?
Many of those who opposed Buhari’s presidency during the elections had claimed at the time that he would take Nigeria into the OIC.
Even though the said coalition is not OIC, many Christian faithfuls see the membership of the coalition as not only a prelude to joining the OIC, but only a breath away. Belonging to such a coalition generates fears and anxiety among non-muslims in the country and Mr President cannot really dismiss the fears as unwarranted.
Religion is such a sensitive issue in Nigeria. No leader can treat it without requisite circumspect.