How ‘self-serving’ Sharia could have become disaster for Nigeria – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo [Photo credit: Ventures Africa]
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo [Photo credit: Ventures Africa]

A former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has given an insight into how his handling of the sharia law introduced in some states of the north during his administration averted a disaster for Nigeria.

The insight is contained in a book titled “Making Africa Work”, co-authored by the former president with three others.

The book, unveiled in Victoria Island, Lagos, on August 2, was co-authored by Greg Mills, Director of Brenthurst Foundation; Jeffrey Herbst, President of NEWSEUM and Dickie Davis, a retired major general.

Mr. Obasanjo was Nigeria’s democratically elected leader between 1999 and 2007.

But the former president revealed that one of his biggest challenges as president was the sharia controversy.

The Islamic law was first introduced by a former Zamfara State governor, Sani Yerima, who is now a senator.

“The second big challenge under my presidential watch was the issue of Sharia law,” Mr. Obasanjo wrote.

“As a country shared almost 50:50 between Muslims and Christians, Sharia has always been part of the legal and judicial system in the north, but only at the customary, or so-called magisterial level. Even then, the Nigerian Constitution has provision for establishing a Sharia Court of Appeal if the need ever arises. Sharia was, therefore, never an issue because it dealt with personal issues such as marriage, inheritance, and minor and civil issues, such as debt, boundary disputes and land matters.

“Only very occasionally did it deal with criminal issues which, when necessary, were forwarded to the High Court for confirmation.

“The initiator of the Sharia controversy, the then Zamfara State governor, Sani Yerima, raised the issue, however, for self-serving and self-preservation reasons, not for genuine or authentic religious conviction.”

Mr. Obasanjo explained that when Mr. Yerima stood for the governorship of his state under the banner of the then All Peoples’ Party, the man who later became the National Security Adviser, NSA, General Aliyu Mohammed, sponsored a candidate under the banner of the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

“The PDP candidate lost the election but it would appear that the NSA, intending to find fault against the governor, started surreptitiously to collect evidence of misconduct and corruption against the governor.

“Meanwhile, I made several attempts to reconcile them, but to no avail. I even took both of them on an official visit to China, an opportunity to bring them together. When it appeared that the NSA persisted, Governor Yerima decided to make himself untouchable,” Mr. Obasanjo wrote.

He continued: “He (Mr. Yerima) invited the Imams, Muslim leaders and priests in his state, and informed them that he was turning Zamfara into a full sharia state. He promulgated a law declaring Zamfara as a sharia state. And, true enough, he became untouchable.

“Wanting not to be seen as acting in isolation, he instigated imams in other Islamic states in the north to agitate for a full sharia law declaration. In all, 12 states out of the 19 in the north promulgated full sharia law,” Mr. Obasanjo explained.

The former president claimed that Muslims in the country were, however, all watching closely to see what he would do, as a wrong statement or action could be seen as incendiary, “because an ‘infidel’, an anti-Muslim president would be seen as trampling on the holy religion of Islam”.

But at the same time, Mr. Obasanjo argued further, Christian clergymen and leaders both within and outside Nigeria were calling on him to stamp out the new phenomenon of wholesale sharia in states where there was a Muslim majority but with substantial contingents of Christians too. They pointed out that Nigerian is a secular and multi-religious society, and not a Muslim state, he said.

“Throughout this controversy, the only statement I made was to the effect that if the sharia that the governor of Zamfara was touting was genuine, it would survive and thrive. If not, it would fizzle out,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

He alleged further that to justify his action and to prove his ‘sharianess’ to people he had recruited to his political sharia, Mr. Yerima cut off the hand of a thief – a traditional Islamic punishment.

“After that,” Mr. Obasanjo wrote, “the sharia fervour started to fizzle out.

“Muslims, who had expected me to kick against sharia, thereby giving them ammunition to cause mayhem, and Christians, who felt angry and disappointed that I did not roll out military tanks to crush the proponents of sharia, both felt winners and losers at the same time. But Nigeria was surely the unmistakable winner.

“Eventually, Yerima weaned himself off the Muslim clergy and sharia crumbled in his state,” he explained.

“A few months later, Yerima visited me in my official residence and, greeting my young female cousin, hugged her familiarly in my presence. I jokingly remarked to Yerima that this action was not sharia-compliant. Yerima retorted, ‘Didn’t you say sharia would fizzle out and has it not fizzled out?’

“At that point, the matter had turned into a joke,” Mr. Obasanjo wrote.

The former president explained further that if mishandled, the sharia debacle would have become a serious disaster for Nigeria.

“I received more letters on sharia affairs from within and outside Nigeria on the sharia affair than on all other issues put together in my eight-year presidency,” he concluded.


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  • Tommy Soto

    Alright Baba, a little less talk, history, and books and lets have more quality bred poultry for hungry stomachs.

    • Ashibogu

      For where! Ota Farms don kpafuka!

      • Julius

        Why looking to his farm for anything. You lazy losers can’t start a farm ?

  • Terry bandit

    Why are all Yerimas trouble makers?

  • jon

    Like I always say obj is our biggest problem president trip supposed to be with exporters entrepreneurs business men and women intellectual, not where to make peace ,obj planted most corruption practice we have today

  • Faith That Conquers

    Obasanjo, thanks for reminding us Nigeria has no law and respects Islam to avoid a backlash than what is seen as Nigerian constitution. The fear of Islamic backlash was the beginning of Obsanjo’s smooth eight year reign although he wiped out Odi and Zakibiam and nothing happened. Who says Nigeria is one nation? Who thinks Nigeria will remain indivisible?

    • Julius

      What does Odi has to do with Sharia ?

  • Solomon Brown

    Bunch of hypocrites and self hating individuals who think that a penal code introduced by a “desert savage” are the laws that should govern us, same goes for all the over zealous christians who think they can be more christian than the romans. These religions have in no way improved our morals but have exploited us in ways unimaginable, when will pastors tell their members about the true origins of the song “amazing grace” and why the first slave ship that set sail from the shores of Africa was called “good ship jesus”? I still can’t hear a thing but crickets chirping because we choose to overlook history or just accept whatever is thrown at us.

  • Rommel

    Baba is sending a veiled reference to all hustlers using ethnic agitations for relevance like IPOB and Nanmdi Kanu, we know that Niger delta militancy was started by Peter Odili and James Ibori for selfish reasons, same thing goes for Boko Haram and Sheriff until they spun out of control, it is time that political actors are made to pay for such sins.

    • Höly Wähala

      Ota Gorilla is sending no message to anyone because no sane Nigerians take him seriously anymore…
      Like your Pst. Midget now acting the role of Senior Prefect, your ugly Baba Iyabo was never really in power that was why he had to knee and beg Atiku to allow him complete his 2nd Term, now talking trash as usual as if he knew his left from his right in government. Tell that old crow to shut his wide ewedu-filled mouth up for once, why do your people feel they have to always run their smelly mouths about Nigeria? Baba Ota was the worst President Nigeria has ever had for losing our territorial integrity called, Bakassi Peninsula, to Cameroon but by far more importantly, for allowing aboki-fulani to introduce religious extremism called, Sharia Law, into Nigeria’s secular system. Another Yoro coward is there now looking like a moron while arid aboki youths rev national tensions… Yoropigs are the problem of Nigeria, willahi!

      • Senator D

        Bros you dey vex ooooo…. Eni’suru…

      • Julius

        Yet, your people surrendered to him…that speaks volume , doesn’t it ?. Leave the conqueror of biafraud alone abegi. Achieve half of what he has done in life then talk as such !

  • George

    if the sharia that the governor of Zamfara was touting was genuine, it would survive and thrive. If not, it would fizzle out,” Mr. Obasanjo said. OBJ IS ANIMAL.

    Did Sharia fizzle out, no, it gave birth to boko haram and all other elements.

    Shameful man who slept with his son’s wife Yorubas are disgrace.

    • deri best

      Good talk—-the level of his hypocrisy is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria

    • Charlie

      You made an excellent point but why do your have to spoil It by attacking Yoruba?

    • Julius

      I love it when he has something to say so that people like you will be peeing in your diaper . You will die reading what he has to say..What da hell does his point has to do with being a YORUBA ? Otile, hatred will kill you !

    • Senator D

      Bros please ca you please YORUBA out of your comments? You make sense but ending it with Yorubas is not okay… Abeg….

  • Olufemi Bello

    This is one of the major reasons why restructuring Nigeria in such a way that the interest of a part will not jeopardize the interest of the whole is inevitable. Fear, Suspicion, Confusion and Destruction that are lots in Nigeria for sometimes now are antithetical to progress and development. Obviously, no country can go on like that.

  • AryLoyds

    HAHA this BABA should have made mention of Senator bukar ibrahim who was also one of the proponents of this political islamic sharia and was caught having GROUPEE with one woman and one young girl all at once.

    The old man is very energetic , even with all his 4 wives , he stills has the power to service two women and stand erect!

    Some core Northern politicians will do anything to enslave their people while living fabulous and sumptuous lives

  • deri best

    Obj is still trying to lie his way out of the mess he made of the Issue of the introduction of Sharia law-in Zamfara state—which he lazily described as political Sharia————–As president the all mouthy Obj– he had all the rights in d world–to call the so-called governor-Yarima to order he did not–aware Nigeria is a secular country—-like Turkey—But Obj out of fear of the Fulani Muslims—allowed the hand of rogues to be cut off while he looked the other way—An idea which later gave birth to boko haram–Today because of his evil ways and refusal to call a spade a spade— Sharia law has led to the murder of over 150,000 Nigerians—–via boko haram-

    • Afo

      Do not mind the treacherous man. His sharia gave rise to boko haram that has killed over 5000 Nigerians, destroyed communities and rendered over 30,000 refugees. If there was no sharia, the founder of boko haram Yusuf would not have confronted Sheriff who was forced to form his political boko haram. The rest is history. Obj also imposed GEJ on Nigeria who almost destroyed this nation by his govt brazen corruption. May God deliver us from the hands of these wicked people. God bless Nigeria.

      • eshe_70@yahoo.com

        5000 or 200,000? You are heavily understating the facts.., Boko Haram so far have killed tens of thousands

      • deri best

        Gej was a blessing to Nigeria–not a curse like Bingo Buhari biko

        • BigBlindCountry

          Blessing? You are very funny.

      • Reginald Dandeson

        No! God cannot deliver you as a country if you just sit by and watch all the maladies of the country go on without action. God has given you the Divine gifts and authority to be the change that you want. Utilize it and the change of bad leadership will come into fruition. But sit and watch, as if in limbo, and God will just watch till you decide to do what is necessary to nail all bad leaders. Kudos.

    • thusspokez

      he had all the rights in d world–to call the so-called governor-Yarima to order he did not–aware Nigeria is a secular count

      The funny thing is that he disclosed this in this book, presumably, because he saw it as an achievement and not the cowardice and failure of leadership that it actually was.

  • thusspokez

    Obasanjo in this narrative shows what a coward he was. It is a self-admission that he failed to provide leadership. The same cowardice that he demonstrated in giving away Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon.

    He speaks about the NSA as if it was not a government institution answerable to him as the president but as political party led by one General Aliyu Mohammed. As president you tell the people you employ what to go and they do it!

    Here was a president kowtowing to the demand of a governor — indeed, who went on to be an alleged paedophile — of a state of little significance instead of reading the governor the ‘riot act’ and hitting him hard with the might of the federal government.

    Is it any wonder that today, issuing threats has become the template for forcing the government to give in to even minority demands? This is because the likes of OBJ ( when he was president) had encouraged the use of threats by easily giving in to the blackmailers.

  • eshe_70@yahoo.com

    OBJ always on self glorification to distort the gospel truth as per his 8 years stewardship as Nigerian president. Those were disastrous 8 years. No amount of self praise or pontificating will wipe out this fact. The sooner you accept this fact the better

  • FreeNigeria

    Won’t this old rat from Otta ever shut his mouth? OBJ actions are the most destructive in Nigeria history. This loser, failure had the chance twice to lay a good foundation for Nigeria democracy, twice he failed beyond words. Instead of hiding in shame, this old monster is still running his ugly mouth.

    • Ebun. E. Cole

      @disqus_37tUayk10K:disqus;

      My brother, General Obasanjo needs help. Since no one in the world sees a personally endeavored achievement
      in his 80-odd years on earth he’s decided to praise himself with dose of illusion of grandeur, but he’s just wasting
      his time, like a waste of space in the better-forgotten history of Nigeria.

      Sharia law grew in leaps and bounds under Obasanjo’s incompetent and theft-ridden corrupt maladministration
      of Nigeria to the extent that today Sharia has become the dividing line on the battle-field between the Nigerian
      Army and Islamists armed to the teeth and intent on enforcing a cancerous Sharia ideology all over Nigeria.

  • Dazmillion

    Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by Premium Times.
    OBJ has been an agent of darke=ness and corruption in this country. What Nigerians dont know is that the constitution of Nigeria is for all intents and purposes a document of Sharia Law. If you doubt please download and read it for yourself.

    Nowhere in the document is Christianity mentioned but the document is full of specification for Islamic law and muslim conduct, yet here is OBJ talking about how he handled Sharia Law when he was president. OBJ you must be very f**lish if you did not know you swore to uphold an islamic document when you were sworn in as president.

  • Dan_Arewa

    The Sharia has not fizzled because it is practice in some state like Kano. We have no Bear Joint. No prostitution Center or Gambling.
    It`s only applicable to Muslim. Even after conviction, their is a room for appeal in Sharia court of Apple and High court of appel.
    SHARIA IS NOT APPLICABLE TO NON-MUSLIM. So please non muslim should stop condemning it as it does not concern them. You can create your own Christian Court if you wish too. We do not bother on what will not affects us.

    • thusspokez

      I don’t know of any other country apart from Nigeria where laws only apply to one group and not everyone. By so doing, you are in effect creating two groups and two countries.

      Is its any wonder that Nigeria is more disunited than ever before or three decades ago? You can’t preach one Nigeria but at every opportunity, create divisions to benefit one group and not all Nigerians.

    • Chukwuka Okoroafor

      “SHARIA IS NOT APPLICABLE TO NON-MUSLIM” but it will be in the future if the Islamists get their way. There is a jihad going on now that is meant to make all of Nigeria the next Saudi Arabia. Some of the powers that be have this fantasy.

      • Dan_Arewa

        Are you Christiand lazy?
        Why can`t you preach and Christanize NIGERIA?.
        Or is it that you have no more customer to patronage it?
        Always crying because even the British that brought it to you are running from it. No wounder you drink alcohol, dance with half-nicket ladies in the church in the name of religion. Who told you Prophet Isah (Jesus) did that?

        • Chukwuka Okoroafor

          But the Saudi Royal Family also does that and they are supposed to be the guardians of the two holy sites, Mecca and Medina. Let us not forget homosexual prostitution that is a common practice in Afghanistan, a Sharia complaint country in many areas. Alcohol is not forbidden in Christianity. Drunkenness is highly discouraged, but drinking some does not get you drunk. Even Jesus told his disciples to drink wine at his Last Supper which was to be his blood. He even turned water into wine at a wedding party.

  • Dan arewa

    Islamic is the truth religion, wherever it appears the falsehood and its advocates are shaken out of fear, they just cannot stand it, thats what happen in Zamfara, even when they consider it not genuine sharia, it did made a statement, so am hereby using this platform to call on all those with sound mine to accept islam .

    • mayGodpunishopressors

      One thing that amazes me about muslims was that they made Islam like a barn full of evils and when they feel not comfortable with any leadership, they will go to than barn and pick “one evil’ to fight the leadership.

      • marcos avelino

        Cristianity is a much greater evil lok at a short chronolgy of just one century of christian love — hitler 60 million killed , stalin 20 million killed Tutsi and Hutus 1 million macheted in one month , another 6 million jews roasted in ovens , 250,000 japanese incinerated by a christian atom bomb – useless people withh a fantasy religion

        • thusspokez

          Get your facts straight: Neither Hitler nor Stalin believed in God!

  • Gary

    Yaay..fellow Nigerians I urge you to please indulge this narcissistic gerontocrat by applauding his latest claim of deluded grandeur.

    Nigeria is still caught in vortex of the Sharia fallout, with the carnage of Boko Haram’s campaign for a full Salafist Islamic Caliphate.
    But Obasanjo is revising history before he faces God and right before our eyes, that he smartly handled Sharia.

    Sharia has fizzled out? Tell that to the thousand killed so far, over two million displaced and the Chibok Girls in and out of their Babylonish captivity. Lives and treasure that should provide electricity, infrastructure, education and a bette life for the generality of our people are now being wasted fighting Jihadists inspired by Sharia Law.

    Mr. Obasanjo may God forgive what you and your ilk have done to us and our aspirations as a people.

    Keep claiming credit to salve your conscience. Your appointment with the Almighy draws near. You can then present your specious rationalizations to Him.

    • Olawale Ola-Davies

      @disqus_37tUayk10K:disqus

      The killing of the founder of Boko Haram, Alhaji Yusuf, by overzealous Policemen in Nigeria
      was mere tinder to the flint. The real cause of murderous and genocidal Islamist Jihad in
      Nigeria today was General Obasanjo’s ignorance and policy failure between 1999 and
      the year 2007 when he had but lost a chance to preempt Jihadist uprising in Nigeria,
      after seeing the global trends, but alas Obasanjo had no analytical skills at all.
      He said he just sat on his hands, and did nothing except whistle in the dark,
      like a lame duck president, as the duo of Zamfara Governor Yerima, and,
      the ANPP (party) candidate, Alhaji Muhamadu Buhari, both campaigned
      for nationwide Sharia Law as precursor to Islamist State of Nigeria.

  • Diplomatiqué communiqué

    @Dananche:disqus
    @

    General Olusegun Obasanjo: A life in our times

    General Olusegun Obasanjo
    is a total misfit in history. A man who should not have risen beyond the
    rank of Major in an educated modern military force abroad, was propelled by
    series of coup to become a Brigadier after which he promoted himself by force
    to the rank of a four-star general. Here is a man who took otherwise educated
    Nigerians for a ride by declaring himself as an “International Statesman” and
    asking the usually robotic university graduates in Nigeria to repeat after him;
    and, like retards, those crass university graduates in Nigeria began repeating
    after him.

    University graduates in Nigeria are too local; without critical thinking that General Obasanjo
    cannot pass a first elementary course in FOREIGN POLICY ANALYSIS IN INTERNATIONAL
    AFFAIRS. He does not know the difference between a protocol, a convention and a treaty,
    but just struts to meetings; empty-headed, to take photographs with world leaders who
    think up the concepts of international relations for practical effect – like a craven yokel;
    overridden in his IBOGUN-bred spirit and soul by thorough-going inferiority complex.

    • Julius

      lolz, yeah, you need to examine your life. I bet you know the differences between everything and you also hold maybe 4 Phds in everything yet, you can’t match what he has achieved in life. Something is missing. go anywhere in the world with him and see who will be treated like an ex President with the respect he is due .

      • AFRICANER

        Obasanjo is the only ‘Igbo’ man you respect? The Yoruba claim that an Igbo fathered Obasanjo. They showed a picture of the guy on Sahara Reporters. I didn’t buy it, but most Yoruba then we’re abusing the okongwu.

        • Julius

          Same way your father abused Okongwu and here you are ! I’ve always thought so . So him be Igbo man now ? Lmaooooooooo, losers are indeed delusional…you are a prime example.

          • AFRICANER

            I said I didn’t believe it. No Igbo will act like Obasanjo, even if a bastard.

  • Excisionist

    This was a demonstration of abysmal failure in leadership. But then this is Obasanjo who will never admit that he has failed even though everybody else sees it.

  • Julius

    Love it when BABA talk and some people dey get heart attack !. Keep on talking sir !!!

  • JasV

    Well handled. But your problem is that if it was the other way round like Odi and Zaki Biam, you would have rolled out the symbol of your wickedness i.e. Tanks and ammunition to kill innocent citizens. As far as I am concerned, you have always been a slave of sharia people and you will continue to be until kingdom come.

  • Intrepid

    No place to hide for the greatest evil in Nigeria .
    Your day of standing before your creator is drawing nigh.

  • Racass

    Shettima hugged and kissed your female cousin, and so what? “Honourable” Abba and former Governor of Gomge or whereever was caught last month in a hotel with 2 prostitutes and nobody’s hand or long thing was cut off. What we need urgently is Secession. Breakup! Simple.

    • deri best

      U have said it all

  • Simeon Nigel

    Reading about Chief and retired General Olusegun Obasanjo piece of news items here has surely proven him to be a real “BIG COWARD of a person, that he is at that time”. After all his military rank level he once held as a general capacity which was just an opportunity for him to be racking-in a huge Nigerians’ tax money in form of salaries and allowances as in equally does likewise as now the former two terms president of Nigeria, and also in which to my own estimation, he should not had been befitted to continue up till this day as a worthy elder stateman to be calling himself as an ex-military general. What Obasanjo should have done at that period in such a situation, is to invites all muslims clerics and immans, prominants emirs and Islamic leaders for a meeting before dislodging the one evil Islam extremists like Governor Yerima with another of his evil character for being one of christians bitter Islamists haters and also being a stunct disrespecter also to all other religion faithfulls, inclusive of christians among them. In fact, notwithstanding, Chief Obasanjo is the very roots sources of the present day high level of rots going on inside the entire Nigerian military institutions of today, when he betrayed retired General Yakubu Gowon’s Federal government, (a christian Head of State), together with Late general Murtala Mohammed to overthrew his fellow christian brother. Today the entire Nigeria miliatry institutions are now pre-dominately control by mulsims and that majority of them were “sunnis brand type of Islam” faithfuls, and no wonder why Boko Haram evil sect group are equally “sunnis brand type of Islam” faithfulls too, and which is why Boko Haram are still surviving in stronger strenghts up till today in the North-east region, because the pre-dominated Nigerian military higher commanders were themselves also “sunnis brand type of Islam” faithfulls that they all do often than not were supporting BHT behind the “secret” scene, and they also does in turn keep on fooling the whole of Nigerian citizens while fighting against BHT by delivering daily false news releases up date as none stop in Borno in North-east entire region.

    • deri best

      Obj is a coward without shame—period

      • Julius

        deri u don come back ? You talking about shame ? Look in the mirror !

  • zacchaeus Akinleye

    Bunkum. The then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Muhammad Uwais implored President Obasanjo to call Yerima;s bluff and challenge this Sharia crap at the Supreme Court, but Obasanjo with an eye on second (and a futile third term attempt) yielded to his inner beast of self-promotion and put up a siddon-look attitude. These jesters are part of what is wrong with Nigeria.

    • Pat

      It takes a wise to see wisdom in operation. Obasanjo, in handling Sharia issue applied wisdom and his wisdom justifies him and prevented what could have been a disaster that many were waiting for. Democracy is not a military rule.

      • Factsayer

        Obj only protected his personal interest not Nigeria. Btw is Nigeria working?

  • Riot50000

    The Nigerian GREAT APE OBASANJO did it all

  • Factsayer

    But you rolled out military tanks in zaki Biam and odi. Obj go siddon. You only needed their votes to sit put at Aso Rock. Stop this ur egoistic false claim of loving Nigeria, what you love in Nigeria is your loots

  • Joshua Kwame

    Baba Obasanjo!