The Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar III, on Wednesday led some Muslim leaders to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa to protest the conference’s composition.
The Sultan declined to speak to reporters at the end of the closed door meeting with the President but the Secretary General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, said the President assured them that there was no deliberate move to marginalise Muslims.
Speaking with State House correspondents, Oloyede said that “We are happy we consulted with him, and he has given us reasons to re-assure the Muslims that Muslims in Nigeria are not deliberately marginalised and he has asked us to convey the feelings of the government, the genuineness of the government, the fairness of the government to the entire populace.”
“That if there are issues that are not as they ought to be, they were not definitely deliberate and we want to believe that Mr. President told us his mind, but we also want to believe that it is proper to protest; it is also proper to assume that a leader will always be just, even if there are mistakes thereafter.”
He said further that “We just felt that we must convey the feelings of the Muslims in Nigeria to Mr. President and he has given us his word to re-assure the Muslims community that he is a genuine and committed Christian who will not be unjust to others even …”
Oloyede, however, declined to give details about the feelings of the Muslims the group conveyed to the President.
“Those feelings; may be because you are not a Muslim. If you are a Muslim, you will know the feelings of the Muslims presently about the composition of the National Conference,” he said.
With the Sultan were Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Ibn Garbai, former Head of Service of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed and former Chief Justice of Nigeria Mohammad Uwais.
The Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) has opposed the composition of the National Conference, claiming that Muslims are being marginalised as the number of Christians at the conference is more than the number of Muslims.
Stressing that the selection of delegates to the national conference was not handled in a free and fair manner, Secretary General Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu said at a news conference in Kaduna that Muslim were cheated in spite of “having the largest population”.
He said that “Although democracy is a game of numbers, this has not been respected. For instance, while Muslims constitute the majority in the country, Christians, who by all acceptable records, are not more than 40 per cent of the country’s population, ironically constitute 62 per cent of the total delegates.”
“We find it as disrespect to the conscience of the Muslims that of the 20 delegates of the Federal Government, only six are Muslims. No Muslim is deemed fit to make the list of delegates from the Nigerian Economic Summit.
“In fact, in the representation of the security agencies, Muslims have been so unimaginably short-changed, with only one Muslim out of the six retired military and security personnel, one out of six retired security and NIA officers, and two out of delegates of the Association of Retired Police Officers.
“This means, of the 18 security experts belonging to these three groups, only four (22.2 per cent) are Muslims. The question is, why is this serious short-changing of Muslims in these very sensitive groups?”