Speaking to Crux, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah says part of the problem with Nigeria is the fact that the majority of leadership positions are held by Muslims. For Nigeria, whose population is nearly half Christian and half Muslim, this is a problem:
Between 80 and 90 percent of federal parastatals are headed by Muslims, not to talk of some of the most important ministries in the land. I am making the simple case that if Boko Haram is killing us and trying to take over Nigeria to establish an Islamic state, if it is killing Christians, if the federal government is so seriously and deliberately marginalizing power, I believe—willy-nilly—it is providing Boko Haram a confidence boost.
Bishop Kukah, who lives and works in the predominantly-Muslim north, is diligent to bring attention to the Muslim leaders who are also condemning the attacks perpetrated by terrorists in Nigeria. One such leader is Nigerian professor Ishaq Akintola, who asked fellow Muslims to pray for Leah Sharibu’s release during the month of Ramadan last year.
Is Buhari’s Statement About Attacks on Muslims Accurate?
As far as whether or not Buhari’s statement that 90 percent of Boko Haram’s victims are Muslims is accurate is a hard thing to verify independently. There is some information available thanks to the Council on Foreign Relation’s Nigeria Security Tracker. While the information breaks down deaths in Nigeria by state, it does not indicate whether the dead are Christians or Muslims. The vast majority of deaths are occurring in the northeast part of the country (the majority-Muslim area). By far the state that experienced the most deaths from May 2011 to January 2020 is Borno state, which shares a border with neighboring Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. CFR is quick to qualify their data with the warning that it is limited. “There is a dearth of accurate reporting across certain regions, death tolls are imprecise, and accounts of incidents vary,” the organization states.
Additionally, it is important to note that the violence in Nigeria is being carried out by a handful of groups, some which can be described as Muslim extremists, such as Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province). These are the attacks Buhari has focused on in his opinion piece. He does not reference other conflicts taking place between farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria, which are also wreaking havoc on the security and stability of Nigeria.