16 July 2011
The Christian Association of Nigeria says it is going challenge the recent introduction of Islamic banking in court.
Nigeria has just begun introducing Islamic banking to bring more of the nation's estimated 70 million Muslims
into the economy. The Central Bank of Nigeria (pictured) issued its first, tentative Islamic banking licence to Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc a little more than a week ago.
However, the Chrustian Association of Nigeria objects that the move violates the country's secular constitution and comes at a dangerous time when security forces are battling Islamic fundamentalists who are fighting for an independent nation ruled by Islamic law.
At the St. Peter Claver Catholic church, Father Paul Anyansi recognizes the potential economic benefits of Islamic banking but believes its dangers are far greater.
"We have too many religious tensions in terms of Islam against Christians. So it could stir up more. This is not the time for it," he said. "The policies for Islamic banking are good in the sense where there is no loan and interest. It doesn't go against the beliefs of the Islams. But what we are trying to say is that this country is not mature for it now."
Father Anyansi says Christian leaders understand that Islamic banking works in other countries and might eventually work in Nigeria, but not right now.
"It could be as effective as it is England, as it is in America, as it is in Malaysia or countries where it is operated. But for now, we are still growing. A lot of people are not accepting their brother as their brother. They are not accepting the differences between religions. It will create more problems than more gains," he said.
Secularist are also challenging the wisdom of introducing Islamic banking in Nigeria.
Human rights activist Oke Adheke says Nigeria can not run on both a secular system and an Islamic system.
"The moment they gave it a religious coloration it is not good for this country. Islamic banking by the name is not good for this country. Let them give us banking products that they believe are good for the ordinary man. The problem with this country is that we introduce too many funny things and tell stories about them, yet they don't work," said Adheke.
Supporters argue that this is the best time to introdue islamucv banking in Nigeria.
"In this time of religious tension," Jaiz International Bank's Mohammed Mustapha Bintube says, "Nigeria needs an alternate method of financing based on fairness, equity, and transparency."
"Islamic banks also don't finance anything that is harmful to society. So we only look for projects that make positive impact in people's lives," he said.
Nigeria's Conference of Islamic Organizations says opposition to Islamic banking is ignorant and insincere as it says some political leaders are trying to link Islamic financing to terrorism at a time when London and Paris are competing to be the center of Islamic banking.
Banker Solomon Osiobe says people are afraid of Islamic banking because it is new, but he believes it can help the economy if everyone understands its rules.
"Let's give it a chance because it has its advantages and disadvantages. If the rules are set out to be followed by the people who are to be served and there is public alertment, this banking system can go on," he said.
"Islamic Banking Divides Nigerian Religious Leaders" AOL
July 15, 2011
"Nigerian Government Issues an Islamic Banking License for the First Time" IslamToday
July 6, 2011