Why Islamic Banking Won’t Work In Nigeria

Several Comments have been made about the introduction of Islamic banking in Nigeria, some in support and others against it. However most commentators are simply too religious about the entire issue to see the real truth. Without any recourse to my own religious inclinations, I don’t believe that Islamic Banking will work in Nigeria, the problem however is not at all with Islamic banking, no, the problem is with Nigeria.

As a system of banking; Islamic banking has been practiced in several countries in the world, some of these being “Christian” countries. Even the Vatican is said to have suggested Islamic finance principles as a solution to crisis in Western banks. It is a system of banking that offers low interest rates and although because of the Islamic principles upon which it is founded it forbids lending to certain kinds of businesses, it is generally one which most business can look to for funds. That said, I would like to say that though Islamic banking may be beneficial to most countries, practicing it in Nigeria would be like trying to install a Microsoft office 2010 on Windows 93, it just won’t work.

Most of the countries where Islamic banking is practiced successfully enjoy peace. In the UK and other “Christian” countries where Islamic banking is practiced, conflicts based solely on religious preferences are extremely rare. But in Nigeria, they are everyday news. We forget that just  in 2009,  Miss Grace Ushang was raped to death in Borno for “wearing Nysc khaki trousers” or that Nigeria could not host the Miss World Pageant after Agbani Darego won the crown of Most Beautiful Girl in the World because of religious banking. While Islamic banks in the south may not pose threats to Christians, what about those in the North? What are the odds that a Christian who goes to one of such banks in the North will come out alive?

There is also the issue of whether Christians will be employed in such banks, of course in other countries there are laws that ensure that people are not discriminated against by virtue of race, sex or religion but are these laws even existent in Nigeria? If they are, are they being implemented? In 1970 , after the civil war was brought to an end, all the Igbo people who had money in banks or properties in the North lost all they had. Irrespective of how much an Igbo person had they were only given 20 Nigerian pounds, so tell me if after Islamic banks are established there happens to be a religious crisis in Nigeria, (perhaps one not even related to Islamic banking) will Christians who may have put their possessions in the hands of these Islamic banks get anything back or will they go bankrupt overnight? If the banks refuse to give them back their possessions will the ever complacent Nigerian Government fight for them?

Let us not forget that Nigeria is a country characterized by disparity; we have the extremely rich and the extremely poor, we have the “Muslim” North and the “Christian” South. Will Islamic banking not further increase this disparity? while Islamic banks may take over the North leaving conventional banks there with very few customers, the exact opposite will most likely be experienced in the South and this will create a huge economic gulf between the two halves of the country because each will be supported by very different financial systems with different modes of operating.

Most importantly, we must realize that with regards to issues that border on religion, logic only takes second place, at best. In country so full of religious zealots and fanatics, it is impossible to imagine that Islamic banking would be taken at face value and accepted based on whatever advantage it provides. Religion is regarded as the greatest cause of war and so with the long standing tension between Muslims (who regard Christians as infidels) and Christians in Nigeria (who regard Muslims as trouble makers) it is surprising that this issue was brought up in the first place without greater consideration to what tensions it will create. With CAN and the NSCIA which are the foremost organisations for Christians and Muslims (respectively) in the country trading words about it, a person’s stand on Islamic banking may soon been regarded as a show of religious faithfulness and a reason for victimization of people with “contrary opinions”


  1. This is ignorance on a very high level. I run an Islamic Finance training and consultancy firm based in Nigeria called Engleheart Advisory Limited….and I am a Christian(1000%).I don’t understand how anybody could say there is a Muslim North and a Christian South in Nigeria.Where will the Northern Christians and the Southern Muslims be placed then??? Then, is there a Christian country on this planet…I don’t know of any. The other issue is the talk of money being siphoned/ stolen by Islamic banks…I am shocked to my marrow. How on earth can anybody make a statement like that in this time and age?
    Nigerians,like you, need to understand how Islamic Finance works before coming out to talk about it.What is the problem with Nigeria…it is not religion or ethnicity. It is poverty and unemployment…and how do you change that?…you stimulate the economy via making capital available for businesses etc.Islamic Finance, to me, as a Christian, is strictly an economic activity because it hooks into the real economy, hooks into productivity.

  2. I wish to remind all critics of the islamic banking system that they don’t have to do business with the bank and they are free to set up their own banks- provided of course, that they meet up the requirements of the law. Please, live and let live. Petty jealousy will lead us nowhere!

  3. Ignorance is a Deseases. . .The Xtian leader are not sincere. . .how will any stand against Nonintrest banking when God nor jesus Support intrest taking.Dont you Read the Bible? . . . . .Just because people are killing them selves that is why u dont want to do the Will of God. . .Assuming the Bible is against it U would have had a Good point to stand ön Gullible cithizen.

  4. Its quite unfortunate. Most Ʊ talking on this forum i’m sorry for Ʊ guys. Only if Ʊ knw what is a stake Ʊ won’t be saying what Ʊ are saying. Islamic banking in Nigeria is a dream or what, what are they thinking, how will they even think of it in the first place. Hmmm, i’m so sorry for those of Ʊ that are ignorantly being decieve by the principle. If Ʊ consider the genology of this country, Ʊ will knw that islamic banking ‎​is not for Nigeria. Don’t guys any point think that at the end of d day it create faction in d country. Anyway Ʊ guys should knw that heaven is coming down not only one one person. If anything should happen as a result of islamic banking in Nigeria we will face it.

  5. “Islamic Finance, to me, as a Christian, is strictly an economic activity because it hooks into the real economy, hooks into productivity.” ade
    …”If anything should happen as a result of Islamic banking in Nigeria we will face it.” dimeji…
    Guys, my concern is on the ‘going concern’ of this great nation – a potential world power. However, if it wouldn’t work “we should consider breaking in peace and not in pieces (blood)” like a friend rightly commented. On the Islamic banking, good concept with honorable principles and classical case studies of developed countries. One that would help lift the thirst of an average Nigerian. But why not employ the concept to name it (like ‘Non-Interest Banking’) to douse the tension, considering our disparity as Obanor Chukwuwezam put it in the article? – No religious under thought please!

  6. Non interest banking is very gud bt d issue is d motive behind it.why ‘islamic’ banking?why nt another name.if it is one muslim name i believe it wl b less tense.readers,u wl remember dt wen christian wanted to start having university:one of issues dt were raised was dt no christian university shld tagged ‘christian’&uptil nw no such a thing.better still,under decree in establishment of banks,it must nt bear gender,culture or religeon.

  7. Christains fighting against Islamic banking should be ashame of themselves. We christain cannot show good examples when we keep on fooling ourselves in ignorant. christain leaders keep on behaving like the Pharises and Sadduces in the bible who hide in pretence to fight what is good. A christain leader just bought his 4th private Jet, with two private universites, while others like the CAN president has his own personal bank which is functional and yielding interest in Warri. Let us ask ourselves this question; If our Lord Jesus was still on earth, will he be fighting this kind of shameful battle. Afterall, we still have Islamic educational Institutions and christain Universities bearing the name of the churches. E.g Redeemers University, etc

  8. Is the non interest part of Islamic Bank or the non promotion of nudity or prohibiting of alcohol business, part of the Islamic banking that the Christians are against?

  9. Why go 4 each others jugulars, there is no need 4 that, I would only advice that the name islamic banking should be changed to Non Interest banking be cause of the nature of the kind of country we are in right now, and there is no harm in name changing if there is nothing to hide or is there.


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