The Catholic Bishop of Abuja Diocese, John Onaiyekan, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s dragging of Nigeria into the Saudi-led Islamic coalition as dangerous and unwise.
In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja, Mr. Onaiyekan said Mr. Buhari’s decision posses great danger for Nigeria’s armed forces as well as for Nigeria as a nation.
“I am not sure it is a wise thing,” Mr. Onaiyekan said. “Once you talk of an Islamic coalition and you are bringing Nigerian armed forces into it, my fear is that this is a dangerous step.”
“We have been trying, and I think successfully, to keep religion out of our armed forces. Can you imagine what will happen if Nigerian armed forces were fighting in the North-West on the basis of religion?”
“So I hope government will be better advised.”
Mr. Onaiyekan, who noted that countries that joined the alliance before Nigeria were not faring well, said Mr. Buhari conceded to an ill-fated advice to take Nigeria into the coalition.
“Those who put the alliance together have not succeeded in putting their own houses in order,” the archbishop said. “It’s not as if they have succeeded well in Iraq, Syria and other places.”
“So whoever advised him (President Mohammadu Buhari) did not advice him well.”
On the comment by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, that the alliance was not religious, the bishop said the Minister’s comment depicted ignorance and self-contradiction.
“When I heard the minister of foreign affairs saying that there is nothing religious about the coalition; I’m sorry that the Minister of Foreign Affairs does not know how Nigerians behave and think,” Mr. Onaiyekan said.
“You cannot tell us that something is Islamic and at the same time say it is not religious. That is a contradiction. It’s like saying Islam is not a religion.”
Mr. Onaiyekan urged Nigerians to reflect on the last three days of Easter, beginning with Good Friday and never forget that Jesus died for them.
He also prayed God to continues to lead Nigeria on the right path.