Re: That article on Yoruba Muslims by Farooq Kperogi

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By Ademola Adedoyin

The article by Prof Farooq Kperogi makes an interesting reading. The scholar, as will be expected of a man of his intellectual standing, marshalled his points so brilliantly that they appear very convincing.
But then, no amount of scholarly prowess can crush the reality of a given situation. I think the don has used some isolated cases and occurrences to paint a general picture, thereby misrepresenting the realities as they are.

I will want to take up the Prof from the conclusion of his article. His words of sympathy for the Yoruba Muslims: “Sadly, Yoruba Muslims have no voice and seem to have accepted their fate with listless resignation.”
What drew out the pen of this first grade communicator was the revelation of a Yoruba Muslim applicant, Sikiru Adebowale, about his encounter with the late boss of the Fourscore Homes, Femi Osibona, in the course of his job-hunting expedition. According to the applicant, not just that he was refused a job on the basis of his faith, he was also humiliated on that score.
Even though Osibona is no longer on this side to give his own account of the encounter, but, for the purpose of this discourse, we will assume that Sikiru has painted the exact picture of what happened.

Using this isolated case to paint the picture of the Yoruba Muslim/Christian relationship and to now seek to present the Yoruba Muslims as the underdogs in Yorubaland will not only be a misrepresentation of the general situation, but a deliberate overstretching of some incidents to arrive at an erroneous conclusion.

I am a Muslim, a Yoruba Muslim and a very proud one at that. I attended an Anglican secondary school where a Reverend gentleman was the Principal. We Muslims were never discriminated against. We had a voice. We had our mosque and during Ramadan special provisions were made for us for our Sahur and Itfar. I remember an anecdote by the late MKO Abiola regarding his Islamic faith when he was going to be admitted into Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta. The Principal had suggested that he should convert to Christianity whereupon MKO’s father retorted that since Muslims and Christians worship the same God, there will be no need for his son to change his faith. The matter died there.

As a communication specialist, I ply my trade under a group that has a Yoruba Christian as a numero uno. In this same organisation, Yoruba Muslims head very critical subsidiaries and our religious sensitivities are never disrespected or dispraged.
I’m sure this picture I painted above, represents the true situation of most organisations and corporate concerns owned by Yoruba, either Christians or Muslims. Fact of the case, which no amount of scholarly submissions can vitiate, is that Yorubas are a people who tend to place very little premium on your faith in giving you a task to do. Our scholar may want to research into employment situation in Glo, First Bank, Femi Otedola’s Group, late MKO Abiola’s Concord and other business concerns, and other such corporate entities owned by Yoruba and let’s know if you will discover any traces of discrimination on the ground of people’s religious convictions.

And that is not to say that there are no isolated cases such as the one painted by Sikiru. But again, the truth is that such extreme, isolated cases can be found among the practitioners of the two religions in contention. I have encountered some extremists of the Islamic faith who said it will be difficult, if not impossible for them, to employ Christians, especially those of the white garment churches. I have equally been privy to conversations where it was suggested by some Christian interview panelists that Christians will be preferred for some vacant positions. In Yorubaland, these are few and far between.
When I read Professor Kperogi’s sympathy line for the Yoruba Muslims, to the effect that they have no voice and “seem to have accepted their fate with listless resignation,” I ask myself if its the Yoruba Muslims of Nigeria he was referring to or those of the Republic of Benin or elsewhere.

The Yoruba Muslims in Nigeria not only have a voice but a very potent and powerful one. A cursory look at the political developments in Yorubaland in recent times will confirm this. Take Lagos as an example. Here, you have the late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande as the first democratically elected governor of the state, the next was Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the next was Babatunde Raji Fashola. It got to a point where even Christian leaders came out to agitate for a governor of Christian faith. Is that a land where Muslims don’t have a voice?

The situation is not remarkably different in other parts of the Southwest. In fact, at a particular period, we had a Muslim governor in Ogun, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, a Muslim governor in Oyo, late Isiaka Ajimobi and a Muslim governor in Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who made our Islamic New Year a public holiday in Osun.
Certainly these are not a group of people who have no voice and who “seem to have accepted their fate with listless resignation.”