The World Today with BLSL: What really is CAN after?

In our age of speed, activities on our planet seem to occur faster than the speed of light. Within the past one week, our pale blue dot in a vast space has seen thousands of news reports from all parts of the world.

 

Get me the dollar

While Ukraine and allies mourn Russia’s missile strike on Kremenchuk, Lysychansk, and Kharkiv, the dollar has set citizens of countries with weak currencies against their government. Well, this image shows how currencies have dropped against the dollar, therefore, spare your government because it is a global crisis. 

 

Image showing how currencies have dropped against the dollar

 

Pelosi: Matters arising

Legend has it that when Norse King, Erling Haaland arrived in England from Germany, he summoned a magical ball he kicked so hard that it went as far as locating Princess Nancy Pelosi who rode on it to Taiwan to the anger of China. Whether Taiwan will suffer the same fate as Ukraine, the world watches on.

Read: Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan to Taiwan explained 

China bans trade with Taiwan after Pelosi’s visit

What is CAN after?

This week’s column will focus on Nigeria and the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN). Theoretically, Nigeria is a secular nation, while in practice, it is a multi-religious state largely controlled by Muslims and Christians. CAN’s counterpart, the National Supreme Council is the apex body of Islamic authority in Nigeria.

CAN has been at the forefront of the opposition against Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, quite more vocal than the major opposition party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) accusing him of an Islamization agenda that does not seem to have manifested after about eight years in power.

The most recent controversy is the Plateau State Government’s discussion with Islamic Bank, Jaiz Bank over the proposed reconstruction of Jos ultra-modern main market.

Once a behemoth of sorts, Jos main market was not only a source of pride to Plateau State but to Nigeria as a nation. Seriki Adinoyi wrote about the market,

 

“Once upon a time, the Jos Main Market was a behemoth of sorts. It was a precious jewel- far more than just a trading centre; it was also a tourist attraction. Visitors to the state and going through Jos town stopped by to take advantage of its beauty, its massive size, and its ubiquitous architecture.

When the market was finally constructed even up till 2001, one could not find its type in any state of the federation. The market had a unique design that made it the most attractive tourist site in the state. People traveled from all over the country and beyond to catch a glimpse of it. The tourism impact of the market was such that the federal government counted it as one of its topmost tourism destinations.

The huge edifice had shop accommodation for at least 3,500 traders. The open space at the base of the market was meant to accommodate at least 2,000 shops. It was constructed with provision for banks, restaurants, police station, fire service station, post office, warehouses, car parks as well as office accommodation for market staff, among others.

But alas! One day, the beautiful structure and all it played host to were reduced to mere rubble in February 2002. No thanks to a mysterious fire outbreak. The market that served as a pride of Plateau and the nation went up in flames.

It happened all of a sudden; no one was prepared for it, government and private organisations including banks that were accommodated in the structure were caught unawares. It took the state fire service two days of hectic battle to put off the fire.”

 

CAN versus Jaiz Bank

After over a decade of the destruction of the Jos main market, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong is in talks with Jaiz Bank to the disagreement of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) alleging that the state would be ceding the market to an Islamic Bank.

 

Responding to the allegation, the Commissioner of Information and Communication, Mr Dan Manjang said,

“The state EXCO mandated its relevant MDAs to carry out sensitization and awareness by engaging various stakeholders ahead of the signing of the MOU for the rebuilding of the Jos Main Market. The governor also personally engaged top religious, traditional, elders and other leaders of thought on the project, knowing fully the passion that they have on the market which is a great heritage of the state.

Regrettably, the outcome of this engagement has been twisted, politicised and reported under the caption ‘Governor Lalong cedes Jos Main Market to Islamic Bank’.”

 

Historically, Jos is infamous for the clashes between Muslims and Christians, and the bloodbath that follows. Hundreds have been killed and properties have been damaged over religious crisis in Jos. Thus, it would be rational to conclude that CAN’s opposition is based on the State’s history as a centre of religious tension and crisis.

On the other hand, others including the NSCIA have accused CAN of Islamophobia.  Some e argue that CAN’s history of opposition to Islam will make them kick against such move even if it is anywhere else in Nigeria.

 

History of Islamophobia?

Jaiz Bank, Taj Bank, Lotus Bank, and  Alternative Bank Ltd. are the Islamic or non-interest banks in Nigeria with Jaiz as the pioneer of Islamic Banking in Nigeria.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on June 30, 2011, disapproved of a proposed establishment of Islamic banking by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The apex Christian body staged a protest claiming that establishing an Islamic bank in Nigeria is an attempt to convert Nigerian Christians to Islam.

“We condemn such move in all ramifications. We are against the operation of Islamic Banking in Nigeria because we see it as another deliberate move to subjugate Christians in Nigeria,” a statement released by the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, The Very Reverend Monsignor Gabriel Osu, Cardinal Okogie, read.

In addition to the protests, CAN also threatened to take legal action against the CBN if it grants operational license to Jaiz Bank. Ten years after the establishment of Jaiz, thousands of Nigerians do not only patronize them, there are Christian shareholders and a reasonable number of Christians who work as staff of the bank.

Islamic finance is today a $2.5 trillion industry spread over more than 80 countries with the bulk of it concentrated in very few markets. Before Nigeria, a country whose population constitutes about 55% of Muslims adopted Islamic Banking, countries like Luxembourg, Germany, the UK, and others have embraced it without any claim of Islamization.

 

Sukuk Bond

CAN was also at the forefront of the opposition over the issuance of Sukuk bonds. According to CAN, it was an attempt to sell Nigeria to Arab Nations.

When Sukuk was introduced to Nigeria at a time when the government desperately needed funds to develop infrastructure across a country in recession, a Christian, Ms. Patience Oniha, was the Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO). While CAN continued to influence public opinion that the Sukuk initiative was a plot by the Buhari-led administration to Islamize Nigeria, Oniha and her team had a lot of explanations to make. The NSCIA was not left out.

In its debut in 2017, the Sukuk was oversubscribed. N100 billion naira was raised to finance the rehabilitation and construction of 25 road projects across the six geopolitical zones.

“The 25 projects funded from the debut SUKUK include the dualisation of Lokoja-Benin Road, Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja Road Sections One, Three and Four, the construction of Oju-Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue and the dualisation of Suleja-Minna Road in Niger State, all in the North-Central.

 

The North-East had four projects namely the dualisation of Kano – Maiduguri Road Sections Two, Three, Four and Five.

 

Similarly, the North-West had four projects namely the dualisation of Kano-Katsina Road Phase One, and the construction of Kano Western Bypass and Kaduna Eastern Bypass Road.

 

Four projects benefitted from the funds in the South-East namely the rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway Section Two, Onitsha to Enugu Expressway, Enugu to Port Harcourt dual carriageway Sections One and Three.

 

For the South-South, five projects were funded including dualisation of Yenagoa-Kolo; Otuoke-Bayelsa Palm Road and rehabilitation of Enugu to Port Harcourt Road Section Four.” (Read more)

Another N100 billion was raised the following year, N162.557 billion in 2019, and N250 billion in 2020.

Since its inception, Sukuk has continued to serve Nigeria, and contrary to CAN’s fears, Nigeria remains a multi-religious state.

A summary of CAN's fears:

* President Muhammadu Buhari winning the Presidential election will lead to the Islamization of Nigeria

* The establishment of Islamic Banking will Islamize Nigeria

* Granting Muslim Students the right to wear the Hijab in schools will Islamize Nigeria

* Sukuk Bond is an Islamization agenda

CAN continues to raise a false flag of Islamization in Nigeria but the country has not been Islamized. Will the Plateau State government abandon the Jos main market project or as usual, ignore CAN and execute the project?

 

Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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