The Presidency says Nigeria is still undecided on whether to join a Saudi-led coalition to fight ISIS.
Nigeria is yet to take a firm stand whether it would join a Saudi-led coalition to fight the Islamic State, which controls a large swathe of Iraq and Syria, a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed.
Nigeria, which is still battling to crush Boko Haram – a local terrorist group responsible for the death of over 10,000 people and displacement of over two million Nigerians in the North-east region of the country, was on Tuesday listed by Saudi Arabia as one of 34 nations to join an Islamic military coalition against ISIS, a move welcomed by the United States.
In addition to Saudi Arabia, the coalition reportedly will comprise of military forces from Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, the Palestinians, Comoros, Qatar, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Yemen.
However, the initiative has been greeted by confusion as some of the countries named as members of the coalition – including Nigeria – have said they were not consulted before the announcement was made.
Already the umbrella body for Christians in the country, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has kicked against tagging Nigeria as an Islamic or Arab nation, saying it undermines the constitutional recognition of Nigeria as secular state.
In a statement issued Wednesday by its spokesman, Rev. Musa Asake, the CAN said: “While joining hands with other countries to fight ISIS is something good, our country must not be tagged as a Muslim or Arab nation. Christians must make a public statement showing their discontent on this development which portends great danger to national unity and integration”.
In the Nigerian Presidency’s first official reaction to the Saudi-led coalition against ISIS, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Malam Garba Shehu told Reuters that “Nigeria has been formally invited to be a member of the alliance and President Buhari is looking into it”.
He, however, added that “A decision to join has not been taken yet. Nigeria is not in or out”.