The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed has said the Nigerian constitution makes the dominance of one religion impossible and thus the Islamisation of the country will not be possible.
Speaking at a town-hall meeting in Kwara state on Monday, the minister said the those accusing the government of Islamising the country were trying to divert attention away from its anti-corruption war.
Mohammed was reacting to reports that Nigeria had become the most dangerous place for Christians to live in.
“Without equivocating, let me say that a lot has been achieved by this administration, despite the challenges that we have faced since assuming office,” he said.
“But whatever has been achieved in all spheres will pale into insignificance if there is no peace in the country. And there is no bigger threat to the peace and unity of our country today than religion-coated incendiary messages, which are being carelessly sent out there by some religious, political and opinion leaders.
“In recent times, the media has been increasingly awash with incendiary statements that seem designed to pitch the adherents of the two prominent religions in the country, Christians and Muslims against one another. Such fallacies like the Islamisation of Nigeria, the killing of Christians by Muslims, the labelling of Nigeria as the most dangerous place for Christians in the world can only serve one purpose: trigger a religious war.
“Needless to say that no nation ever survives a religious war. Those who are making these allegations know that they are not true, but they have found in religion another tool to demonise the government of the day, divert attention from the government’s anti-corruption stance and create undue tension in the polity.
“Make no mistake about it, there have been conflicts between adherents of the two major religions in certain parts of the country. To now extrapolate from that to say Nigeria is the most dangerous place for Christians in the world is a disservice to Nigeria and an overkill. What those who are pushing this negative narrative about Nigeria do not know is that if they succeed in giving Nigeria a bad name in the comity of nations, they too will not escape the consequences that will result therefrom.
“The alleged Islamisation of Nigeria under the current administration is totally false and should be perceived in its entirety as a campaign of calumny. The secular nature of Nigeria’s constitution makes the issue of religious dominance and impunity improbable.”
Mohammed said some religious conflicts had political and ethnic connotations, and should not be seen as purely religious.
“It is also important to note that the underlying principle of religious conflict may not be purely religious, but more often than not coloured with political connotations as vividly depicted in the case of the terrorist group Boko Haram. And more often than not, conflicts between Muslims and Christians are fuelled by political motivations, ethnic differences, extremism, intolerance and terrorism,” he said.
“Before I end my speech, let me appeal to the media to desist from providing a platform for exponents of incendiary statements, those who will latch on to religion and ethnicity to divide us, and those who have no qualms about leveraging their privileged positions to give Nigeria a bad name in the international community.”