The president of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, made some remarks yesterday in Benin City, Edo State, indicating that Christians in Nigeria are considering having their own version of non-interest banking after the Swedish model. He said this in relation to the ongoing plan to introduce Islamic banking to the West-African country.
CAN said it expects the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to deploy the same resources it had pushed into Islamic banking to make the planned Christian version a success.
“What we are telling the CBN governor is that he should be ready to spend the same billions when Christians eventually come up with their own. We are looking into what the CBN is spending on the project and we will come out with the figures. He (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) will have to bring out that amount of money, he will have to make sure that Christians are trained in anywhere we need training. For example, in Sweden there is a very good Christian model of non-interest banking. So, Sanusi must get ready to bring out the billions to train over a thousand Christians in Sweden.”
He said uniform guidelines should be used to demonstrate that the CBN meant well for Nigeria by introducing non-interest banking and Islamic banking into the economy. He said except the CBN comes out with common modalities for the non-interest banking and then allow any interested party to go into the sector, its current position would continue to hurt the industry.
In a keynote address at the 36th yearly national conference and general meeting of the Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship, NCGF, in Benin City, Oritsejafor said it was hypocritical for the CBN and some persons to be promoting Islamic banking in a secular country like Nigeria.
He asked, “If they (CBN) say it is going to be Islamic banking because that is all we know about this non-interest banking, which ought not to be, and they claim it is for all Nigerians, is this true? Clearly, Islamic banking will be run according to Islamic laws. For example, if I own a piggery, will you give me a loan to operate it? The answer to me is no. For them to say if we don’t support it go to other banks when Islamic banking is purportedly for every Nigerian amounts to discriminating against such persons? Why is it that you are spending government’s money to promote it when it is certainly not for everybody?
The CAN president further added, “Nigeria needs prayers because the mistake a lot of people make is to think that those who speak out are against other religions. They are not, all we are asking for is equity and justice, we are not the ones that heat up the polity, we only respond to some of these things that certain persons throw up. Christians should pray, they should love their Muslim brothers, but not accept to be second-class citizens. Christians should educate people on the realities of some of these things and the implications.”
National President of the NCGF, Prof. Vincent Iyawe, said the aim of the fellowship is to see “the enthronement of righteousness in our nation and to inform and educate the church that the socio-economic and political well-being of the nation is the responsibility of the church.”
Responding to the issue, Former President of CAN, Rev. Sunday Mbang, urged the country’s leaders not to heat up the polity through obnoxious policies.
He said, “To make sure we don’t have crisis in this country, anything that anybody knows would bring problem in future should be avoided. My advice to the members of the National Assembly is that they should ask the CBN governor to put the issue of Islamic banking on hold. Let him do things that would bring unity to Nigerians and not what generates controversy. I am advising the CBN governor to do things that would bring unity to the country.”