If the words of Vice President Namadi Sambo are anything to go by, the membership of the ongoing National Conference in Abuja will be adjusted to correct the perceived imbalance in the composition of delegates.
This is sequel to the formal complaint by the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar to President Goodluck Jonathan over a fortnight ago.
The umbrella body for Muslims in the North had objected to the under-representation of Muslims at the 492-member conference inspite of what it said was its numerical strength in the country.
Speaking yesterday in Kaduna at the 50th anniversary lecture of JNI, Sambo said:
“On the imbalance of the national conference between Muslims and Christians, I want to confirm that Mr. President has directed that positive action be taken on the matter”.
He added that the administration was also taking steps to bring an end to the frequent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in parts of the country, in response to the concern expressed by the Sultan on the activities of the insurgents which has been gaining a foothold in the North.
The vice president, who assured of government’s readiness to ensure justice and fairness to all Nigerians irrespective of religion or ethnicity, added that President Jonathan had concluded plans to appoint a Special Adviser on Islamic Affairs.
Sambo said: “Mr President has also accepted my recommendation to appoint a special adviser on Islamic affairs. Government will see to the end of the barbaric acts of insurgency in the country. We are making efforts to ensure harmony between farmers and pastoralists, we have strategised on how to stop the constant crises between farmers and pastoralists.
“We are making efforts to address the issue of grazing range and grazing reserves”.
On the occasion, the Sultan reiterated his complaint that Muslims were being marginalised, particularly in the representation at the National Conference.
He said: “We have discussed with the government on the national conference and how to make it a success. We don’t want another jamboree, we have been giving advice to our leaders; it is left for them to take the advice or jettison them.
“Every day we hear of people killed in different parts of the country. It is a nightmare that is spreading to parts of the country in the name of cattle rustling. We are worried about the Muslims, Christians and Fulani being killed because life is sacred.
“Why are we fighting each other in the name of ethnicity and religion? We should all go about our religion peacefully. Our non-Muslim brothers should join us to look at problems bedevilling the country and find solutions”.
Guest speaker, Prof. Shehu Galadanchi, said no Islamic organisation had been able to give Muslims in Nigeria adequate leadership and protection.
He, therefore, proposed the merger of the JNI and the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Muslim Ummah of South Western Nigeria (MUSWEN), to become a single but very strong body that would be a rallying point for all Nigerian Muslims.