It’s a wonder how time moves past swiftly. 33 years ago, there was a massive cry from many sections of the Nigerian Media over the confirmation of Nigeria as a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), which occurred in January 1986.
Although the country had been a member of the OIC since the era of the Nigerian civil war, Nigeria was just there as as observer member until the nation become a regularized member of the body. This been a source of contention for the government as a number of Nigerians and organisations such as the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) have kicked against the inclusion of the country as part of the Islamic body. How though did Nigeria a rather secular state become a member of a religious organisation that seems to be causing so much contentions? Let us consider this briefly below.
Nigeria’s Membership In The OIC
There have been a lot of misconceptions as to how Nigeria became a member of the OIC, but let us try to clear things up with facts.
The Organisation of Islamic Countries was formed in the year 1969 when the Head of State of Nigeria was General Yakubu Gowon. At the time, the country was caught up in the now famous Civil War. As Gowon was desperate to come out as the winner in the war, he took some decisions that later became a source of big controversies that can now be hardly contained. One of the controversial action that the former Head of State took was to take the country to the OIC, though Nigeria was at that point just on an observers status.
In details what happened was that, General Gowon had gone to General Abdul Nasir, who was at the time the President of Egypt, for help to fight against Biafra. Gowon had taken this approach to ensure that the country had the support of other powerful African nations and to appeal to the Pan African Idealism of which the Egyptian President was at the forefront back then. As he however agreed to provide assistance for General Gowon, the Egyptian President introduced him to the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) conference. Incidentally, the OIC was just being formed that same year. The plan was that, the other members of the OIC will offer the same assistance to Gowon, so that Nigeria could defeat Biafra in the war. This sort of alliance was however not unique to Gowon as his rival Ojukwu was also at the time making alliances with countries such as Portugal and France to advance his own course as well.
Upon joining the OIC at that time, Nigeria was made an observer nation which was the case for 17 years until the country became regularised as a full member in 1986, thus sparking the whole argument of why Nigeria should even be there in the first place. The regularization occurred in Fez, Morocco. It should be noted that, before the country was finally regularized, the OIC had put a lot of pressure for the country to take the step.
It may seem surprising but the country actually became a part of the OIC because of the seeming desperation of a Christian Head of State, although, it was during the government of a Muslim Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida that the country became a full member of the Islamic body.
Complaints Till This Day
Recently, President Buhari, was among the 53 world leaders who attended the OIC summit which was held in Saudi Arabia this year, 2019. However, as yet again, different Nigerians have come out to condemn this move by the President.
On Friday, May 31st 2019, The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) in a statement averred that it was not legal and that it was rather unconstitutional for the President to grace the summit with his attendance. HURIWA has said that the presence of the President representing the country was in direct conflict with sections 10 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution since Nigeria is a secular or at least a country that was multi-religious.
CAN Kicks As Buhari Attends OIC Summit
In similar vein, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has condemned the trip made by President Buhari to attend the meeting of the OIC, almost immediately after he was inaugurated to serve as President for a second term. The Christian body noted that it was not in line with the provisions of the constitution and was a confirmation of the fears permeating the air that there was a secret Islamisation agenda being carried out in the country,
The Christian body further added that as the President was about to start his second tenure in office, he should put a blueprint in place that would make the fight against insecurity very tough for insurgents.
Ohaneaze Ndigbo Critisises Buhari For Attending OIC Summit
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the top sociocultural organisation of the Igbos worldwide, as well tackled the President for gracing the OIC summit with his attendance in less than 24 hours after his inauguration. The group in a statement knocked the President and further asked him to explain to Nigerians the reason why he carried out such action. The position of other groups asserting that Nigeria was a secular state was also pointed out by the group.
It is clear that this visit of the President has offended a lot of Nigerians, but the question is what grounds do Christians have for complaining when it was a Christian that took the country to the OIC in the first place? Was it wrong for the President to have attended the summit that the country was a member of? On the other hand would the President have attended a Christian summit of such standing? If indeed it was wrong for the President to grace the OIC summit, what is the solution now? If we were to suddenly pull put from the OIC would not the Muslims in the country cry foul?
There are many questions to be answered, but what is most important is that, since the deed has been done, our leaders should learn from the past while making decisions as some of these decisions could go a long way in causing contentions among the citizens of the country for a long while.
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