Many Arab countries including Kuwait, do not want anything to do with Islamic banking. They consider it archaic, unworkable and counterproductive to the good health of free enterprise. Islamic banking retards entrepreneurship flair because of interference in too wide a range of businesses that the bank has no expertise or adequately trained or qualified personnel to nurture to success, as joint business partner of the businesses of its loans. Islamic banking is anti-globalization, which is the current vogue of world commerce.
Two of the most conservative Islamic countries in the world, Iran and Pakistan, dabbled in Islamic banking but soon began to experience the inevitable problems associated with it. Iran has since withdrawn the interest free content of the product by allowing her Islamic banks to charge between 4 – 8% interests on loans. Iran calls the interest charged, by an Arab name. If Iran is charging interest on its Islamic banking loans, why would a non-Islamic or Arab country like Nigeria, be desperate to adopt the system jettisoned by the most radical Islamic country in the world, if not for mischievous purposes?
‘Usury’ as an idea, which Islamic banking is fighting against, did not originate from Islam or the Arab world. It is as old as the earliest Christian era and is mentioned in the Bible. It represents the practice of lending money to be paid back at an unfairly high rate of interest. Yes, the Jews and the Arabs were the earliest ancient principal offenders of the practice, being notorious gold merchants’ money lenders. But as banking became the vogue, modern commerce progressed along the route of finding ways of reducing interest charges rather than the cumbersome, primordial, uneconomic pursuit of profit-sharing.
It was found that reducing interest rates charged by banks was a better practice long term, than wasting valuable time chasing after profit sharing, which although in the short run, appears to translate to high returns for the banks relatively, was not commensurate with high demand on the labour and time they expend on the businesses, and was seriously damaging to entrepreneurial spirit and profits of the struggling victims of the loan.
Of course, Al-Qaeda, bent on Islamizing the world, promotes Islamic banking as the ‘do good’ interest free bank, an irresistible bait in a poverty stricken, alien mentally and religiously enslaved society like Nigeria. But deceiving a people by calling a tiger a sheep does not transform the tiger into a sheep. The truth of the matter is that Islamic banking relies on and makes profits, which it gives Muslim names. The businesses Islamic banks are interested in must be bankable and profitable because Islamic banking places emphasis on profit-sharing rather than interest charges.
What we must ask them is the difference between profit-sharing and Interest charges other than that the bank decides how to run the businesses it invests in; takes the lion share of the profits eventually, and still collects its loan in due time. In other words, Islamic banking charges interest by non-conventional formats and names, to remain in the business of banking. The bank’s debtors end up paying higher interests by whatever Arab names called, than operates in conventional banks, because the Islamic bank becomes a fortune sharing part-owner of the businesses of its loans, until the loans are liquidated.
And remember, Islamic banks do not have the expertise and man-power to help run all the businesses it gives loans to, so, in the end, the businesses they get involved in, run aground as soon as the Islamic banks are done with extracting their pound of flesh. In fact, Islamic banking is worst than the “usury” of old that it is supposed to be trying to terminate. That is why Iran changed the rule to charge between 4 – 8% on loans. It is cheaper that way, and the businesses involved are left to be run by people who own and know what their businesses are about, and have the interest in keeping the businesses going indefinitely.
Islamic banking means that Islamic banks, attempt to control the small and medium scale industries of the country in which they operate. Arabs, particularly the Lebanese, did just that in the Nigeria of the early sixties. They monopolized our small and medium scale businesses as wholesalers in all domestic items of commerce; salt, pepper, oils, rice, textile, drugs, drinks, kerosene, petroleum products etc. They operated from the best business addresses of the time, such as Balogun Street in Lagos. The battle to dislodge them from our small scale businesses was bitter and long, culminating in the military era indigenization decree. A campaign (or war cry), in which I played a pivotal role. Now the Arabs want to come back through the back door facilitation of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and take back control of our small and medium scale businesses.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, claims that interest free banking is the answer to Nigeria’s economic ills and appears to have been preparing the grounds for its introduction in the last six months particularly, by unusually increasing the Central Bank’s benchmark interest rate known as MPR four times. His latest increase was last week from 8 to 8.75%.
He claims he is doing it to fight inflation but stakeholders say the frequent increases do not augur well for the country because it discourages manufacturers and businesses from borrowing from banks.
In any case, Islam or Sharia does not have the copyright or monopoly on interest free banking. The function can be performed by any conventional bank that so desires. It does not have to have religious connotation or to come from a religious bank. So, if Sanusi is not a Sharia agent and feels strongly enough about interest free banking, all that he needs to do is give licenses or the go ahead to any number of the currently registered Nigerian banks or foreign conventional banks so willing, to add interest free products to their banking portfolio without religious connotations, restrictions or limitations on customers.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi maintains that Islamic banking would help tackle the problems of tobacco smoking, alcoholism, gambling and prostitution etc in Nigeria. In the first place, I doubt if these problems are peculiar to or worst in Nigeria. The power to make laws for and against tobacco and alcohol indulgence and commerce or the prohibition of gambling and prostitution in Nigeria is vested exclusively by the Nigerian Constitution in the National Assembly. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, does not agree with this, however. He believes his power as the CBN Governor supersedes that of the Nigerian National Assembly and allows him to transfer the power to institutions of his choice, including banks, local or foreign, to ban trading in tobacco, alcohol, prostitution, gambling and such other ethical fixations, at least.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi says Islamic banking focuses on financial intermediation, as opposed to innovation. Is that a virtue? Without innovations, where would the world be today? We would all be answering one common name of Muhammad, wearing white robes and sandals every where and at all time, with women veiling and in permanent pudda. They cannot drive and must not travel or do business without male guarantors. Muhammads cannot do business with non-Muhammads or with people who are into innovative businesses. Muhammads can marry four wives, including teenage brides and still be homosexual.
Islamic banking insists on our products and services being free from speculation, which effectively ends the Naira Exchange Rates’
speculative activities, the Stock Exchange business, and our other liberal commercial and global businesses with the non-Muslim world. Our businesses must be free of interests and monopoly, thus cutting us off from IMF and World Bank facilities what ever they are worth, and restricting us to aids’ trifles from the Islamic Development Bank. Does any one still need any more reason why no Arab country is heading for the Moon? They abhor science and science is the core of innovations.
Sanusi says, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is financing some Fadama II projects in two Northern and one Eastern states. The Eastern state, Anambra, has since denied taking any such IDB facility. If the other two Northern states took the facilities, Ya’Adua got us into the trap. What the IDB provided as aid, is on the average N140 million (less than a million dollars), per state. The nearly half a trillion naira stolen by Mrs Ibru and the other Nigerian banks’ executives could have taken care of that a million fold, instead of exposing us as a country so cheaply to the ridicule of being aided with pittance, all in the effort of deviously imposing Sharia banking on Nigeria?
Sanusi says Nigeria’s SEC and NDIC have had dealings with Islamic banks too. Because a thief gets away with his loot does not mean he is no longer a thief. If the two institutions secretly breached the secular aspect of our constitution in any way, it does not mean they are right or that our other institutions should be encouraged to do the same secretly or brazenly.
In the few Arab countries were Islamic banking is being practiced, it has not impacted positively on the lives of Arabs’ indigenous poor who are the derelict Black original owners of all Arab countries, including Sudan, which is why we have South Sudan now, with Darfur in toe. Sanusi says there is Islamic banking in Britain. Britain is not a secular country, Nigeria is. Britain has the resources, sufficiently sophisticated intelligence gathering mechanism, intimidating security efficiency and might, to quickly isolate their small Muslim population and nip whatever threats they pose in the bud.
Imposition of ‘Sharia’ laws at our national level of banking to promote separate functions, products, services and queues for Muslim men and Muslim women on the one hand and them and non-Muslims on the other, would lead systematically to separate public places and general elections queues, separate facilities in schools, hospitals, work places, armed forces, national football teams etc and the forbidding of legitimate activities such as trading in alcohol, tobacco, casino games and other such moral fixations. This is not only the surest and fasted recipe to disintegration in a secular country like Nigeria, it installs Arabian hegemony and laws over our sovereignty and national laws as if we are an occupied country.
A country which is already a melting pot of bitter non-native religious rivalries and acrimonies, and where the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, with the active support of Maghreb’s Al’-Qaida sects from neighbouring countries, is now throwing bombs daily, killing dozens of innocent people in public places and sacking churches and police stations to precipitate a jihad. Boko Haram, meaning Western education is sin, a fundamentalist group, was founded in Borno state in 2002 to establish Sharia law and Islamic government in Nigeria. Governor Alli Modu Sherrif of Borno state 2003 - 2010, one of the ‘Sharia’ states, used members of the Boko Haram sect as thugs during his campaigns for governorship. The sect first gained national attention in 2004 when its members set up a base in Kanamma, Yobe state, named ‘Afghanistan,’ from where the sect members attacked nearby police outposts, killing police officers.
There has been a series of attacks in Nigeria from that time, in the guise of the desert Al-Qaedas from Algeria and Mali, the Boko Haram sect, and imported jihadists from the neighbouring countries of Niger and Chad, sacking whole Nigerian villages at night or burning down police stations and killing law enforcement officers in broad day light in Brono, Benue, Plateau and other neighbouring states. On June 16, 2011, Boko Haram bombed Louis Edet House, headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, in Abuja, destroying several cars and killing the bomber and a security officer. Over 700 people have been killed by mid 2011 in Boko Haram attacks in Northern Nigeria. In June 2011, the sect sent a hit list of prominent Northerners, including the Vice president, to Nigeria security agencies. The timing to introduce Sharia banking in Nigeria is, therefore, not only extremely troubling; it is an affront to the collective ambition and acumen of a people struggling desperately to evolve a common destiny.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of the CBN, had been training personnel secretly for some time, to set up a parallel Central Bank (or what he calls a Commission or Committee within the Central Bank) especially for Islamic banking in Nigeria, and has initialled damaging ‘Sharia’ agreements to the secular structure of our democracy. In other words, he has sold Nigeria’s sovereignty to the OIC and the Islamic world, and is now deceiving the nation that Islamic banking has nothing to do with ‘Sharia’ laws, and that people opposing its berthing in Nigeria were only being sentimental. To the shock of the nation, the documents he had initialled with the Islamic bank’s agents confirmed his deceit, and came to light at his meeting on July 20, 2011, with the House of Representative members.
Only a person with a carefully crafted and nurtured agenda to destroy his country would so blatantly lie to conceal his efforts to grievously inflict religious tension, division and intolerance on his own country. Sanusi came prepared for the devious role he is playing now as the Central Bank Governor of Nigeria. After obtaining his first degree in Nigeria, he moved to the University of Sudan, where he was radicalized in Sharia ideology, rubbing shoulders as class mate and associate of current leaders worldwide of the Al-Quada sect.
Sudan was Al-Qaeda’s International headquarters and Osama bin Laden was living and operating from there at the time.
As soon as Sanusi returned from his studies in Sudan, be began to openly pursue his Sharia take over of Nigeria, particularly through the financial sector of the economy. Reproduced here word for word is the unmistaken evidence of his carefully laid out plan. At a conference in 2000 in Kaduna, Sanusi delivered a lecture on Islamic economics called International Framework of Institutional Framework of Zakat: Dimensions and Implications. In the lecture Sanusi argued that although collection of Zakat is the responsibility of the state, it may be the responsibility of the Nigerian government rather than the emirs in Northern Nigeria.
In October 2002 Sanusi published a paper on ‘The Hudhood Punishments in Northern Nigeria: A Muslim Criticism.’ In July 2003, he presented ‘The Shari’a Debate and the Construction of a ‘Muslim’ identity in Northern Nigeria: A Critical Perspective,’ at a seminar at the university of Bayreuth in Germany. In August 2003 he presented ‘Democracy, Rights and Islam: Theory, Epistemology and the Quest for Synthesis’ at an International Conference in Abuja on Shar’ah panel and Family Law in Nigeria and in the Muslim World: A rights-Based Approach.’ These documents confirm Sanusi’s preoccupation and ambition for Nigeria, and to get the opportunity to put his theories into practice in the financial sector of the Nigerian economy, President Yar’Adua appointed him Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2008.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi took advantage of the seeming weakness in Nigeria presidency to launch his Sharia take over of Nigeria. Jonathan’s attempt to contest for the presidency of Nigeria in the April 2011 general elections was marked by ugly scheming to scuttle his efforts by a gang led by Babangida and Atiku, pushing for Northern and Islamic agendas in the guise of the zoning of leadership. Jonathan trounced them at the pools and was sworn in to serve his own term in office on May 29, 2011, but the zoning scar seems to have compromised him, and is promoting narrow-minded, sectoral distortions in our body polity as exemplified by the greedy regional hijack of the presidency and speakership positions in the National Assembly.
Northern jihadists did not feel that a Christian Northern president of the Senate represents them so they forced a Northern Muslim Speaker on the House of Representatives to the detriment of the legitimate interests of the West in particular and Southern Nigeria in general. Nigeria’s Constitution does not recognize religious balancing, only geographical, by implication. When Chief Mushood Abiola, a Southern Muslim, won the presidency, he had a Northern Muslim as his Vice, and that did not rankle Christians in Nigeria. In any case, over 40% of the North is either Christian or non-Muslim. Awolowo proved this over and over again by winning significant followership during elections in the North in his time.
President Jonathan is so weak that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, who himself acquiesced in the introduction of Sharia into the governance of most of Northern Nigeria states, had to speak for him recently by lashing out against the Northern takeover of the leadership of the National Assembly and warning the Speaker of the House of Representatives to resign his post within two years. President Jonathan might very well go down in history as the leader that introduced Sharia into our national politics and consciousness to prepare Nigeria for eventual disintegration.