President Buhari made a smart move by rejecting the Saudi Arabia coalition

The Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, arrived Riyadh on Monday to start off his week-long visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. News sources report that the president was there to deliberate with the King of Saudi Arabia and other businessmen on how to revamp the Nigerian economy. Some of the key things on his agenda include convincing the foreign nationals to invest in various sectors of the economy, oil stability and prayers at Medina for the country. However, what no one envisaged was Buhari’s response to the Saudi Arabian King about the Islamic coalition.

After congratulating the Saudi Kingdom on the formation of the coalition, Buhari said: “Even if we are not a part of it, we support you.” He then pledged the nations support to stop terrorism, “Nigeria will support your efforts in keeping peace and stopping the spread of terror in your region. This is in consonance with our own commitment and on-going efforts in seeking to stamp out Boko Haram terrorists from the West African sub-region and Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).”

In December 2015, Saudi Arabia announced its Islamic military alliance with 34 Middle Eastern and African nations. This announcement was made following criticisms against the kingdom that it had not taken a definitive stand against the current wave of terrorism in the world. Some of the countries listed include Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Chad, Niger, Gabon, Senegal, Somalia, Togo and Guinea. However, notably absent were Iran, Syria and Iraq who are predominantly Sunni Muslims.

Nigeria’s inclusion in the coalition has raised a lot of questions by experts concerning whether or not the coalition (which majorly consists of Muslim- dominant countries) is truly against terrorism or an association against the Shiite sect. For Nigeria, its inclusion in the alliance was not well accepted and it is with good reason. With the numerous divisive, tribal and religious wars that occur frequently in the country, it would be foolhardy to accept an alliance that can potentially lead to violent conflicts between the Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Also, Nigeria is a country with mixed religions and an alliance with other Islamic countries may term it to be one as well. As soon as the news broke that Nigeria was listed among the Islamic alliance, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) began a protest. In a statement by the General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake, he said that “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.”

The truth is that Nigeria is already in a fragile state with the economic downturn, the Biafra protests and the Boko Haram insurgence and, as a result of this, cannot afford to add a religious conflict to the existing tension. Therefore, President Buhari made a smart move by turning down Saudi Arabia’s generous offer even though Nigeria does not have a viable solution in sight just yet.

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