«introduction of Islamic Banking in Nigeria. The topography of the disapprobative voices was first elucidated upon. Following this, a general and ...»
Obviously, one of the influential banks being referred to was Oceanic Bank whose erstwhile (MD), Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, was removed under the Sanusi-led CBN. After a thorough investigation of the circumstances under which Mrs. Cecilia Ibru was removed, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Dan Abutu, who found her guilty of highscale fraud and security offense, convicted and sentenced Cecilia Ibru to 18-month imprisonment (Central Bank of Nigeria 2010). The convicted criminal, Cecilia Ibru, who had since served her jail term of a three-count charge which ran in sync forfeited assorted list of fraudulently acquired assets valued at N191 billion. Therefore, it seems sensible to argue that rather than attribute the conviction of Cecillia Ibru, a deaconess, and the sacking of thieving bank MDs as a pre-designed agenda that culminated into the establishment of IB in Nigeria, the Sanusi-led CBN ought to be commended for making the bold effort which salvaged the Nigerian banking institution from plummeting. If men of God and religious bodies that are expected to be Apostles of justice, accountability and equity are using established case of fraud to discredit IB’s introduction in Nigeria, one is tempted to think that the thieving bank MDs and such religious entities and individuals might after all be comrades in treachery.
There is a probability that some of these religious leaders, financiers of their ministerial activities or members of their congregation have a large stake in the conventional banks.
It may be assumed that these religious leaders are under pressure that a high possibility exists that IB would gain large acceptance in Nigeria, hence, making the conventional banks where they have stakes to lose a large part of their customer base. Therefore, the dreaded and anticipated consequential effects such might have on their financial interests.
It is therefore naturally expected that to forestall such a development, a grand Excogitative Deconstruction of the Discourse Dynamics of the Controverted Non-Interest.... 33 conspiratorial design needs to be worked out to use the instrument of established religious or religiously skewed institutions and their leadership hierarchy in staging agitations aimed at stopping the introduction of IB. This submission appears to find a locus in AiMP and Eyiegen’s remark which reads, “...those that are worried about the sharia agenda have real reason to be worried.” It is noteworthy that the same AiMP, an association of Christian professionals and leaders in the market also challenged the legality of CBN to use what it calls, “a small provision in the BOFIA” in providing framework leading to the setting up of IB. One would have expected that as experts who are self-acclaimed leaders in the market, they should have been aware of the various or similar roles exercised by the CBN in the past, which in any case, never gave birth to legal complications or outbursts from such quarters. A salient observation that reinforces this take was raised by Ezechukwu (2011) who argues that, “and why has the CBN which has exercised the responsibility to regulate and provide guidelines for all other forms of banking operations: commercial, merchant, community, micro, mortgage, etc., in the past, should now become culpable because it also produced guidelines for the establishment and operation of the Islamic interest-free banking system, which is another banking format? For even when those banks take off, it is not likely they would have the word “Islamic” prefixed to their names. And even if they did, would it not be similar to the many businesses owned by the different faith-based organisations”?. Ezechukwu proceeds to offer a more compelling argument by positing that, “the ownership of banks like other businesses, as schools, is totally deregulated but run under set-down guidelines by the relevant laws and regulations.” Many Christian-based organisations have applied for and were licensed by the appropriate authorities to run schools and universities, Ezechukwu adds. He furthers “even though these academic institutions have the greater capacity of influencing those who pass through their portals, their existence or sectarian ownership has never been challenged by any quarters – Christian or Muslim.” The universities and colleges throw their gates open to all those who agree to abide by their ordinances and prescriptions as nobody is, ab initio, never coerced into enrolling in them, Ezechukwu concludes.
The inherent logic in Ezechukwu’s stream of thought seems to offer an appropriate response to Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi’s allegation that “Sanusi is carrying out these powers without supervision from the executive and the legislature.” It seems more 34 Journal of Islamic Economics, Banking and Finance, Vol. 9 No. 1, Jan - Mar 2013 appropriate that Mohammed Fawehinmi ought to have grounded his argument on compelling constitutional facts which invalidate the opinion of the legal icons who hold that the CBN’s action is in line Section 39 (1) of BOFIA stipulates that “written consent of the CBN governor”, the CBN governor has every right to give consent to any bank that intends to be registered or incorporated with a name, which includes the words “Central” “Federal,” “Federation,” “National”, “Nigeria”, “Reserve”, “State”, Christian”, “Islamic”, “Moslem”, “Quaranic”, “Biblical,”and other established provisions guiding its activities which include “Section 28 (1)(b) of the CBN Act 2007 and the Sections 55(2); 52;
59(1)(a); 32(1); 61; 23(1)”.
However, it must be unmistakably pointed out that by rightly observing that CBN’s insistence that NIB products must be sharia compliant amounts to shutting the door to other forms of NIB, AiMP deserves commendation. But, it appears more commonsensical that any of such known other forms of NIB that are presently in practice be articulated? AiMP’s observation was based on the CBN initial guideline which defined NIB as “a bank or Other Financial Institution (OFI) under the purview of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which transacts banking business, engages in trading, investment and commercial activities as well as the provision of financial products and services in accordance with Shariah principles and rules of Islamic commercial jurisprudence” (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2011) As pointed out by Udom (2011), the draft of the regulatory framework which contained this was prepared under the able leadership of Sanusi’s predecessor, Prof. Charles Soludo. Since, it was under the highly respected Soludo, a Christian, that this document was drafted, it appears ethno-doctrinally wrong for a CAN leader, Archbishop Avwomakpa to accuse Sanusi of pursuing “a hidden agenda” and directing the affairs of CBN as if it “belong to one religion” (Addeh 2011). In the revised version of the draft document quoted earlier, “in accordance with any established non-interest banking principles” had been replaced with “in accordance with Shariah principles and rules of Islamic commercial jurisprudence” (Central Bank of Nigeria 2011).
Could it be true that as alleged Mohammed Fawehinmi, the NIB “will wreck our (Nigeria’s) economy and destroy our global financial status as a rich nation?” To start with, it is essential to point out that a country whose masses, Mohammed Fawehinmi’s Excogitative Deconstruction of the Discourse Dynamics of the Controverted Non-Interest.... 35 late father, Gani Fawehinmi, described to have been “groaning in unprecedented poverty” and whose “decadent socio-economic situation” Gani Fawehinmi contends, “does not engender the well-being of ordinary people” cannot by any index of economic analysis or logically premised exposition be ranked among the world rich nation (Fawehinmi 2008).
That 138.6 million Nigerians as declared by Tim Prewitt, Managing Director, USAID Markets, are living below poverty level indicates that Nigeria better ranks as one of the world poorest nations (Ayantokun 2009).
The prostrate state of the Nigerian economy would warrant that any serious minded person to be on the look for ameliorating alternatives through which they could be addressed, the contributory factors for the appalling state of affairs in Nigeria. It was this conviction that probably made Mohammed Fawehinmi’s father to have once suggested, "a system that has worsened the plight of workers must not be embraced by the workers. For once, the workers should take a new direction socio-economically opposed to the present direction which has led them to the abyss of discomfort" (Akinnola 2009). In order to seek new alternatives as suggested the highly revered Gani Fawehinmi, it is not only essential that alternative approach be sought, I add, such alternative approach searching effort must be a multidimensional one which takes into cognizance and finds out, variants of the contributory factors that have rendered our situation abysmal. Premised on this, I proceed to contend that the understanding of the Nigeria problems would require finding alternatives or solutions to the various variants of the causative factors of the country’s political, economic, educational and infrastructural problems. Given that our discourse focus is on economic related matters, hence, attention would be not only in this aspect, but also, in limitation to Mohammed Fawehinmi’s question, “what is the relevance of non-interest banking in Nigeria now”?
One of the ways we can understand the relevance of NIB in Nigeria is to understand what Interest-Based Banking (IBB) operation means to any economy. To achieve this objective, it is only apt to seek the understanding of what interest (usury) is, because, what the heart is, to a living man, is what interest is, to IBB. Early on in this paper, interest was described as an unearned income. In this sense, interest becomes an instrument of socio-economic suppression, as such; one might consider usury to be antithetical to the rules of nature. In what passes for a corroboration of this argument, 36 Journal of Islamic Economics, Banking and Finance, Vol. 9 No. 1, Jan - Mar 2013 Aristotle, the great Greek sage posits, “...the mode of reaping money by money is justly to be reproached as being inconsistent with nature.” The great philosopher furthers, “some people engage in base practices such as usurers, who give little in order to receive more; their gain is sordid, unjust and base; their ungenerous money transactions are rapine” (Quoted in O'Callaghan 1825). By giving little to receive more, then, it means, the giver of a usurious loan would be living at the expense of a usurious loan receiver, hence, a giving rise to a situation which qualifies for the exploitation of the disadvantaged by the advantaged. In turn, this would lead to inequitable distribution of wealth, hence, paving way for economic instability. This exemplifies what interest is to IBB and it takes no extra effort to contextualize this within the moribund state of affairs in Nigeria. Therefore, an alternative to the inherent dangers in IBB, is the NIB as a whole, and IB in specific- the only variant of NIB that is well developed and globally recognized. The effects of NIB, are, inherently, the exact opposites of those of the IBB, hence, indicating that NIB/IB would inherently foster equitable economic empowerment, wealth distribution and inhibits the exploration of the disadvantaged by the advantaged.
Conclusion On the strength of the argument advanced so far, it may be concluded that the disapprobative voices that trailed the introduction of the IB were not being based on what the IB is, rather, on the othernizing spirit of subjectivism. Reasons have been advanced why IB cannot be tenably argued as an Islamizing tool or suppressive mechanism that will better the lot of one at the expense of the other.
Therefore, it is reasonable to submit that the voices of dissent that greeted the introduction of the IB in Nigeria was based on religious bias, glorification of falsehood as truth, a lack of adequate knowledge of what the package is all about and Islamophobia. This paper has also shown how the Nigerian media have played central role in fanning the ember of Islamophobia and misinforming the public with the intent of the CBN in facilitating the introduction of the IB in Nigeria by providing the required guidelines as provided for by the laws guiding the conducts of the apex bank.
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