Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has called on Christian leaders in Nigeria to ignore claims of an ‘Islamic agenda’ and instead focus on a ‘Christian agenda;’ as he explained why it was necessary for the country to be a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
Osinbajo spoke in Lagos during the Greater Nigeria Pastors Conference convened by Apostle Wale Adefarasin and Rev. Abayomi Kasali.
He explained that the recent uproar over the country’s subscription to IDB’s Sukuk Bonds was not justified. According to him, there were no plans to Islamise Nigeria through the Sukuk bond or the country’s membership of the Islamic Development Bank.
He said that in addition to Nigeria, many nations including the United States of America and the United Kingdom had also embraced the system due to its progressive nature.
According to the Financial Times Lexicon, the Sukuk or Islamic bonds is structured to generate returns to investors without infringing Islamic law (that prohibits riba or interest).
Sukuk represents undivided shares in the ownership of tangible assets relating to particular projects or special investment activity. A Sukuk investor has a common share in the ownership of the assets linked to the investment, although this does not represent a debt owed to the issuer of the bond.
In the case of conventional bonds, the issuer has a contractual obligation to pay to bond-holders, on certain specified dates, interest and principal. In contrast, under a Sukuk structure, each holder has an undivided beneficial ownership in the underlying assets.
Consequently, Sukuk holders are entitled to a share of the revenues generated by the Sukuk assets. The sale of Sukuk relates to the sale of a proportionate share of the assets.
During the pastors’ conference, Professor Osinbajo said, “The Sukuk is an Islamic concept, which enables people to have access to credit. It is essentially like a bond. The US, UK, China, South Africa have all used the Sukuk. Once there is money in the market, let us not get sentimental. The most important thing is for us to use those monies well.”
He continued “Some people say there are some hidden things in this arrangement and that one day somebody is going to take us over. Where? How will that happen?
These are straightforward financial systems used all over the world. I don’t think it presents any real problem. It is a very progressive financial system.”
He declared that it was impossible for anyone to Islamise Nigeria as claimed by Christian leaders.
Professor Osinbajo said, “Part of the problem is the failure of Christian leadership to take its rightful place. We focus our minds on something we call the Islamic agenda. We look for it everywhere as if we are looking for demons.”
“But where is the Christian agenda? Are we not entitled to one? We are too divided as Christians to have an agenda. The key to the unity and progress of Nigeria is in the church.” Osinbajo said.