The Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, on Sunday said there were no plans to turn Nigeria into an Islamic nation.
Abubakar, who is also the President-General, Jamatu Nasril Islam (JNI), made this known at the Golden Jubilee lecture of the JNI in Kaduna.
“Nobody can Islamise Nigeria, if Allah wanted he would have made everybody Muslims, so also with Christianity. God would have made everybody Christian if He wanted.
He stressed the need for the people to set aside ethno-religious differences and be committed toward peace and development of the nation.
The Sultan said JNI criticism of certain policies of the present government was a wakeup call for government or those in leadership positions “to do what is right’’.
He said that JNI’s action was not aimed at fighting the government or any group or religion.
Abubakar, however, decried the insecurity that had pervaded many parts of the nation, especially the North-East by the Boko Haram insurgents.
He said that the activities of the insurgents should not be seen as an attempt by Muslims to persecute Christians or turn Nigeria into an Islamic country.
Abubakar, therefore, appealed to Christians and other faithful to join hands with Muslims to tackle the present security challenges and other problems facing the country.
He also urged them to see Islam as a peaceful religion.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, in his goodwill message, said the present administration would continue to support JNI in its programmes.
Sambo reiterated commitment of the Federal Government in tackling insecurity and illiteracy in the country.
He also assured the Islamic body of the government’s effort to address the constant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in some states of the federation.
Gov. Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna State urged JNI to play its role in defusing tension based on interpretations of Allah’s revelations.
This, Yero said, the Islamic organisation could do by encouraging Islamic scholars and preachers to dwell more on the five pillars of Islam. Yero said that the five pillars remained the core of Islam and its unifying factors.
He also stressed the need for the body to collaborate with other inter-faith dialogue organisations toward promoting peace and unity in the nation.
“The objective of such interaction is to devise means of promoting peaceful coexistence for the development of our great country.
“We all know that without peace and stability there can be no meaningful development because our country will economically stagnate, while majority of the people, irrespective of faith, wallow in abject poverty.
“It is, therefore, a collective responsibility, especially on the part of the JNI and similar bodies in the country, to galvanise the people toward achieving lasting peace and security,’’ he said.
The Speaker House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, governors, traditional leaders, and Islamic scholars attended the occasion.