Jonathan, Buhari tear South-West Muslim leaders apart
THERE is a brewing crisis in the Muslim community in the South-West over the choice of presidential candidate to support in next Saturday›s election. While the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN), an organisation that has been coordinating the activities of Muslim organisations in the region, has thrown its weight behind the candidature of General Muhammadu Buhari, some other Muslim elders are said to be kicking against such a direct endorsement, wondering how the MUSWEN leadership and other leaders could have allowed itself to be used by politicians to pollute the non-partisanship nature of the body. Not particularly happy with the action of MUSWEN, the aggrieved elders are accusing the leadership of the Muslim community of compromise, alleging underhand deal and the fact that the Muslim leaders, especially the educated ones, are exploiting the elderly ones who are literate only in Arabic and Islamic education.
“These leaders are exploiting these elders because they are illiterate and forcing their choice on them. They are also exploiting their social standing,” a source said.
According to investigation conducted by Sunday Tribune, indication that MUSWEN leadership had struck a deal with leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged after it began a series of meetings with some leaders, especially Imams, to rally Muslim groups in the South-West to support the party.
At one of such meetings held at Bodija Islamic Centre in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Saturday, 21 February, which was attended by leaders of groups and allegedly chaired by Alhaji Ishaq kunle Sanni, leader of Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOY), the forum restated the need to give support to Buhari, maintaining that a resolution had already been passed in that regard.
“Imams were enjoined to begin to campaign in their mosques to their members. But we believe that decision was not done freely just like that,” stated the source, querying when MUSWEN and other Muslim groups suddenly became political tools to be used to influence the choice of members and when such a decision was taken to support anyone purely for sentimental or religious reason.
Though, the allegation of financial inducement could not be proved as being alleged by the aggrieved members, they insisted that money was shared during one of the meetings.
“We can say that at the end of one of such meetings, N10,000 was given to each participant. Many of them (Imams) are not rich in that sense. You can imagine what N10,000 can do in their lives and with promises of hajj, who won’t jump at such offers?” queried the source.