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THE MESSAGE: How Gowon took Nigeria into OIC

By Femi Abbas

“The Truth (like light) has come and falsehood (like darkness) has vamoosed; surely, falsehood is meant to vamoose in the (magnificent) presence ofthe Truth”. Q. 17:81

name changing

Monologue

This article is not appearing in this column, today, for the first time. It had been published before as a presentation of naked facts against the incessant falsehood with which Nigerians have been perennially fed through untenable propaganda shamelessly mounted by certain Nigerian media irritants who are well known for exhibiting gulible bigotry.
Facts are as much constant as they are sacred.

Points to Note

Four major and fundamental points should be well noted in this article for historical records as well as for posterity. And, the four points are quite verifiable.

  1. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) was established in 1969 with Nigeria as a foundation member.
  2. Contrary to the wide spread misinformation in Nigeria, it was General Yakubu Gowon, a Christian Head of State, and not General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, a Muslim Head of State, that took Nigeria into OIC.
  3. Four Nigerian Presidents have attended OIC Summits so far. They are Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo (Christian), Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (Muslim), Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (Christian) and Muhammadu Buhari (Muslim).
  4. About 30 African countries, none of which can claim to be an Islamic State, are, like Nigeria, members of OIC and their citizens are not in any frivolous noise of Islamization.

Preamble

This is Nigeria’s time of digital facts. And to reveal those facts as succinctly as they are and not as they are deceptively and mischievously presented in Nigeria media, is to appropriately create an indelible archive of digital facts for posterity sake. Falsehood of any form, in any place and at any time, is like a blind horse which may run berserk in its hurried bid to convey its rider to his/her presumed destination. Should that horse, in its blindness, mistake a dungeon for its rider’s destination, the trip in question may become ‘a journey of no return’.

Reminiscence

Time flies. It has been 34 years already since Nigeria’s membership of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) sparked off a wild, national brouhaha in Nigeria’s local communication den of rental criers called Nigerian media.
That unwarranted brouhaha over this country’s membership of OIC was an open evidence, either of the blatant ignorance with which most Nigerian journalists practice journalism as a profession or as a deliberate mischief of some political/business charlatans who have been perennially masquerading in the cloak of religion or both. For such charlatans, religion is a silhouette through which they can call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

Background Information

The Organization of Islamic Conference popularly known as OIC was established in September 1969 when General Yakubu Gowon, a Christian from today’s Plateau State, was Nigeria’s Head of State. Nigeria was then embroiled in a civil war that raged fiercely from 1967 to 1970. In his desperation to win that war, General Gowon, as Commander-in-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces, took certain steps that later turned out to be generators of unbridled controversies in Nigerian history. One of such steps was to take Nigeria into the then newly established international Organization called OIC. Another was the ceding of Bakasi area of today’s Cross River State to Cameroon in exchange for the latter’s support in a bid to win the civil war and to prevent the emergence of a rebellious region named Biafra as a separate country. But our immediate concern here is more about Nigeria’s membership of OIC which led to the coinage of the word ‘Islamization’ as a religious blackmail in Nigeria by certain business Christian charlatans who are parading themselves as clerics.

Gowon’s Role in OIC

While the brouhaha in Nigerian media continued to reverberate ceaselessly over the country’s regularization of her membership of OIC in 1986, only a few, well educated and civilized Nigerians, knew the role played by General Yakubu Gowon in the historical episode that ushered Nigeria into that Organization. And, as a charismatic statesman that he is perceived to be in certain quarters, one would have expected General Gowon to openly come out to tell Nigerians about his role in that controversial venture.

How It Happened

It was during Nigeria’s civil war years (1967-1970) that Yakubu Gowon, a Northern Christian General in the Nigerian Army and the country’s Head of State, approached the then Egyptian military Head of State, General Gamal Abdul Nasir, who later transformed himself into a civilian President in that country for help. General Gowon asked that Egyptian President for assistance in winning the then ongoing Nigerian civil war in the spirit of Pan Africanism which President Nasir championed along with the then President Kwami Nkruma of Ghana at that time. And, in addition to helping General Gowon with some sophisticated military wares, President Nasir also introduced him to OIC, which was established in September 1969, in the belief that Gowon could get further help from other member States of the Organization. After all, seeking foreign help internationally was not peculiar to Gowon or Nigeria as a country. The leader of the then rebellious Eastern region, Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, also sought and got military and financial assistance from some countries like France, Germany, Portugal, Israel and others in his bid to succeed in pulling his region out of Nigeria by all means.
Thus, by participating in the very first meeting of of that Organization in 1969, Nigeria became a member of OIC from its inception.

Nigeria’s Observer Status in OIC

For 17 years (1969-1986) after joining OIC at its inception, Nigeria remained an observer member of that Organization until 1986 when her membership was regularized.
As a Deputy Foreign Editor in the now defunct Concord newspaper, at that time, yours sincerely was one of the only two Nigerian journalists that covered that event in Fez, Morocco in January 1986. The other Nigerian Journalist that was in attendacne to cover the conference was Alhaji Liad Tella, the then News Editor of the same Concord newspaper.

Process of Regularization

Before 1986, Nigeria had been severally pressurized, by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), to regularize her observer membership status. That observer status had embarrassingly become a matter of suspicion to other members of the Organization. And in 1985, Nigeria was given an ultimatum of one year (1986) to either regularize her membership of that Organization or pull out of it. At that point, if Nigeria had failed to regularize her membership of OIC in the following year (1986), she would have been disgraced out of the body and that would have amounted to a public diplomatic ridicule in the comity of nations.

The Cry of Owl

One of the loudest allegations of ‘Islamization’ of Nigeria in recent times is from a dubious, self-appointed Christian body that names itself National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF). Besides OIC membership, that mischievous body has also severally referred to another Muslim Conference called ‘Islam in Africa Conference’ which was hosted by Nigerian Muslims in the city of Abuja in 1989. That was the year that the Nigerian National Mosque, in Abuja, was officially commissioned. Many African Muslim leaders who attended the commissioning of that Mosque were so impressed that they fortuitously proposed an annual conference under that name, which could unite African Muslims in the practice of their religion as a way of checkmating any act of fanaticism that could breed terrorism. Perhaps if that proposal had materialized, the mence of terrorism that is rampant in Africa today would have been minimized.

Christian Participation

The 1989 Islam in Africa Conference (IAC), held in Abuja was not exclusive to Muslims. Many African Christian leaders including some members of the now so called NCEF were invited and they participated in it with the expression of their opinions and advice on various religious issues in Africa. If the conference was truly aimed at ‘Islamizing’ Nigeria as mischievously alleged by NCEF and CAN, would Christian leaders have been invited? And knowing very well that Nigerian media was heavily dominated by Christian journalists, at that time, would those journalists have been allowed to cover the event?
In its solo or chorus voice, the song of ‘Islamization’ of Nigeria can be heard only from mischievous brigands who are parading themselves as religious clerics or Priests.

The 1953 West African Synod

About 16 years before General Gowon took Nigeria into OIC, a Christian West Africa Synod was held in Ghana. Many Nigerian Christian clerics who attended that Synod did not participate in it as ordinary members but as vocal leaders. And, no Muslim was invited. Yet, Nigerian Muslims did not raise any senseless noise that could engender unwarranted religious rivalry on it by tagging that Synod as a venture of Christianization of Nigeria. Nevertheless, Nigerian Muslims are not oblivious of the problem with NCEF, CAN and some other Christian bigots in who are constantly and monotonously shouting the sour song of ‘Islamization’ of Nigeria as if they have the monopoly of such provoking noise. That the trumpeters of that owlish noise do not see it as a dangerous phantasm, which may cause un-foretold consequences, is a conspicuous evidence of blatantly dangerous ignorance on the part of the so-called NCEF and even CAN.

Genesis of the Noise

Seven years before Nigeria’s independence, a West African Christian Synod was held in
the Gold Coast (now Ghana) with active participation of certain Nigerian Christian leaders, some of whom are still alive today. No Muslim was invited to that Synod.
Synod is a conference of Bishops and other Christian topmost Priests at which fundamental decisions are often taken which would become the basis of Church operations in evangelism. It was at that 1953 Synod in Ghana that a resolution to use Western education as an instrument of Christian evangelization in the West African sub-region was adopted. By that resolution, any Muslim child that wanted to acquire Western education in a Christian Missionary school must be converted into Christianity in spite of his or her payment of any charged fees. The fear of the Christian conferees at that Synod was that despite all efforts made by the then available Churches to stop the spread of Islam, that divine religion kept spreading spirally to the greatest amazement of the Christian evangelists in the sub-region. And, to curb such a trend, only an evangelization policy through the use of Western education as a magnet could work like magic. Thus, incorporation of educational system into African Continental evangelism became a fundamental policy through which the trend of religious preaching in Africa could favour the growth of Christianity.
It was by that policy, which had the tacit backing of the Colonial masters, that the use of Western education as an instrument of evangelism became possible. Through that policy, Muslim youths whose parents were eager to see their children educated in the Western way had to adopt Christianity as their religion.

Objectives of the Policy

One of the objectives of the policy formulated at the 1953 West African Synod was to indoctrinate all converted school children in a way to sow in their hearts the seed of hatred towards their parents for sticking to the religion of Islam and thereby force those parents to psychologically jettison their religion and embrace Christianity or to renounce their children who would then become the foot soldiers of Christian evangelism.

Evangelical Resolution

With such a resolution, as mentioned above, that was backed up with a White Paper which became a permanent policy of the Christian Mission in Africa, Christianity, according to the Synod’s plan, would become such a formidable rival of Islam that within just one half of a century, Islam would have been completely effaced from the surface of African continent and thereby relegated to a second class religion especially in Nigeria. Thus, most of the vocal antagonists of Islam in Nigeria today are men and women with Islamic background who fell into the dragnet of that tendentious plot of the 1953 Synod.
It is the seeming failure of that plot that is now pushing the sour song of ‘Islamization’ of Nigeria into the mouths of the Christian archers.

Their Clandestine Thought

The front line advocates of that plot are thinking that like their Synod, Muslims too might take a decision which could be devastating to Christian evangelism in Africa.

Epilogue

Now, from all indications, the era of falsehood in religious sphere may be fast approaching its end in Nigeria as it once happened in Europe, since Nigeria’s lifestyle, as a colonial country, is based on the template of that of Britain that colonized her. And, when that happens, the monotonous sour song of ‘islamization’ being echoed almost daily with irritating reverberation will become a faint solo without any chorus.

ERRATA

In the article entitled ‘Whenever the Sultan Speaks’ published in this column last Friday, August 30, 2020, some errors were inadvertently made which need to be corrected here, for records purpose.
The appointment of Brigadier-General Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar as Sultan of Sokoto was announced on November 3, 2006 and not his installation as stated here last Friday.
His Eminence’s installation as Sultan and his assumption of office was in March 2007.
Please, let these facts be noted for record purposes. God bless you all!

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