19 September 2011

Nigeria: Christians Warn Ajimobi Against Establishing Islamic Bank in Oyo

Ibadan — The umbrella body of Pentecostal Christians in the South West, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, has advised Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State against turning the state into a theatre of war through his plan to introduce Islamic Banking in the state.

National Vice President of PFN in the zone, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, spoke at the weekend in Ibadan.

Bishop Oke who is the presiding Bishop of the Sword of the Spirit Ministries, advised the governor and Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao to shelve the plan because it will have adverse effect.

But in a reaction to Vanguard's enquiries on the matter, the governor through his Senior Special Adviser on Public Communication, Dr Festus Adedayo said; "We believe that the highly revered man of God was misquoted as this allegation is not only untrue, it is spurious. In the event that he was not, we ask that he cross-checks his facts very well as there was never any such discussion between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and anybody over such matter."

PFN's allegation

According to Bishop Oke; because of the volatile nature of the state, it would be safer not to rupture the relative peace by leaving the controversial banking system untouched.

He said in a statement, "My attention has been drawn to a news item both in the print and electronic media on the ongoing move by the Oyo State Government to partner with Saudi Arabia to establish Islamic Banking in the state.

I am of the opinion that, within the few months that Governor Ajimobi has been in office, he has demonstrated a firm and passionate resolve to improve on the welfare of the masses and has come across as a just, non-sectional leader who wants to be fair to both Christians and Muslims alike.

"Likewise, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao is a man I know very well as a decent and responsible leader, a fervent muslim and a man of integrity. May I however state, that by dabbling into Islamic banking, the duo are setting a bad precedence in the state which may ignite unnecessary chaos.

"When it comes to religion, people don't yield because it is a matter of conviction. Moreover the Word of God says in Proverbs 22:7 "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." In this wise, if such a deal is struck, then the whole of Oyo State will become a servant to Saudi Arabia/Islamic Development Bank.

"It has been said that he that pays the piper dictates the tune. Islamizing the economy is to certainly Islamize the state. This is unacceptable to each and every Christian voter in Oyo State. We do not want the peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians in the State to be destroyed. As responsible leaders, we must not set Oyo State on fire. Government should look elsewhere for financial backing.

The Government of Oyo State is not the government of a religious group, but the government of a Secular State as enshrined in Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria"

The Bishop recalled that the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to withdraw the CBN circular for issuance of Non-interest Financial Institution, NIFI, license as it contradicted Section 10 of the Nigeria Constitution which states that "the Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as a State religion."

Bishop Oke then implored Alhaji AbdulAzeez Arisekola - Alao not to drag Oyo State into any religious imbroglio, saying, "Alhaji Arisekola - Alao has been a blessing to this nation with his chains of businesses, creating jobs for the unemployed and impacting on the downtrodden. Please, let it stop at that. Do not drag Oyo State into any religious upheaval.

The Church in Oyo State is saying no. Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, are saying no. Every eligible Christian Voter in Oyo state is saying no. We don't want Oyo State to be drawn into anything that will polarize us. We don't want a replication of what is happening in Jos, Maiduguri, or some other parts of Nigeria. Oyo State has been a peaceful State and we will like it to remain as such."

He advised the people of Oyo state irrespective of religion or denomination to pray for Governor Ajimobi for wisdom to avoid unnecessary controversy that is capable of distracting his administration or destabilizing Oyo state

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