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Buhari confirms Nigeria’s membership of S/Arabia’s coalition against ISIS; Rules out Islamization agenda

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed Nigeria’s membership of the Islamic Coalition Against Terrorism being spearheaded by Saudi Arabia amidst speculations of alleged plan to Islamise the country.
The President made the disclosure in an interview he granted to Al-Jazeera during his recent visit to Doha, Qatar, while the interview was aired on Saturday.
When asked whether Nigeria was part of the Islamic coalition, Buhari answered in the affirmative, as he attributed the reason behind the decision to the fact that there are terrorists in Nigeria who claim to be Muslims.
“We are part of it (the Islamic coalition) because we’ve got terrorists in Nigeria that everybody knows which claim that they are Islamic.
“So, if there’s an Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, Nigeria will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism,” the President said.
Buhari said he discussed Nigeria’s membership of the coalition with King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz during their meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when he visited the country recently.
He however did not disclose how the membership of the Islamic coalition would be beneficial to Nigeria when asked to do so.
He said it would be wrong to disclose the details to the media.
“Well, that we mentioned under Lake Chad Basin Commission, our regional grouping compromising Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin and we dedicated a certain number of troops to be deployed in our own sub-region and I don’t think we have to tell the press the details of that,” he simply said.
Buhari however justified Nigeria’s membership of the Islamic coalition, saying there is nothing wrong in joining the coalition since members of the Boko Haram sect fighting in Nigeria have claimed they are Muslims even when their activities are anti-Islam.
He added that the Boko Haram itself had declared loyalty to ISIS
He said, “I’ve just told you it is the Boko Haram itself that declared loyalty to ISIS.
“ISIS is basically based in Islamic countries. Now, if there’s a coalition to fight Islamic terrorism, why can’t Nigeria be part of it, while those that are fighting in Nigeria as Boko Haram claim to be Muslims? But the way they are doing it is anti-Islamic.”
When confronted with the fact that Nigeria has large populations of both Muslims and Christians and that some Christians are complaining that he is giving Islamic identity to the country by his actions, Buhari wondered why the Christians who are complaining have not deemed it fit to confront members of Boko Haram in the North East or militants in the South South.
“Why can’t those Christians that complained go and fight terrorism in Nigeria or fight the militancy in the South. It’s Nigeria that matters, not the opinion of some religious bigots,” he declared.
The President however denied any attempt to change the religious identity of the country.
He said, “How can I change the religious identity of Nigeria?
“No religion advocates hurting the innocent and just because the Muslims are the ones that claim to be Boko Haram and they are killing innocent people whether in the church, in the bus or in the market place, then I will just sit and look at them because I too am a Muslim? Islam is against injustice in any form.”
Meanwhile, also in the interview, President Buhari has insisted that the country only has itself to blame for its current economic troubles.
Asked if the world’s biggest supplier Saudi Arabia and policies of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had hit smaller producers, Buhari told Al-Jazeera English OPEC had to “act together to save the situation,” adding: “Countries, including Nigeria, have to live by market forces,” he said, ruling out a Nigerian withdrawal from the body.
But he added: “OPEC as an organisation has to be mindful of economic conditions in each member country because that will influence that country’s ability to go along with OPEC decisions.
“Nigeria, we were unable to diversify our economy, hence we are much more disadvantaged by the lower oil prices and OPEC may try to help us out but really, it’s basically our own fault.”
Buhari, who took office in May last year, has made reducing Nigeria’s reliance on crude revenues a key plank of his economic policy alongside ending decades of corruption and impunity. But those efforts have been hamstrung as cash-flow problems caused by the global oil shock as well as previous administrations’ failure to save crude revenue when prices were high.
Also, the president answering question on the value of the naira, said he would not devalue the naira currency or lift strict foreign exchange controls which have maintained have strangled investment and growth in the import-dependent country.
“Nigeria can only afford to live within its means,” he replied.

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