Nigeria’s secular status is now under test as the country’s participation in the planned Islamic Games is causing uneasiness in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
The AUTHORITY learnt that while preparations have been intensified from behind the scenes for the 4th edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games holding in Baku, Azerbaijan, some officers at the ministry have kicked against the move because it breaches Nigeria’s secular position on global religious matters.
They allegedly expressed concerns over plans by the Solomon Dalung-led Ministry of Youth and Sports to take part in the games which is alleged to have the backing of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (IOC).
Nigeria has over the years starved off pressure to feature at the regional multi-sport games, giving its secular status as reason.
It was gathered that the position may have changed under the Muhammadu Buhari administration
It was learnt that Buhari had endorsed the participation of Nigerian sports men and women, and even dispatched a delegation led by Christian Ohaa, a former Permanent Secretary in the ministry to attend the Chief de Mission meeting held in Baku last year.
Sources said that the plot to drag Nigeria into the Islamic Games has been resisted by some members of staff of the ministry, who believe that the Federal Government is not properly advised before it took the decision.
“These regional games are purely for the Muslim world and I doubt if a secular state like Nigeria should concern itself with it. Those who are pushing for it ought to know that they are not doing this administration any good. Recall that critics of the administration have accused Buhari of plots to Islamise Nigeria. Sending a delegation to this games would only add, not subtract from this raging accusation”, one of the concerned officials said.
The opponents of the move argued that Nigeria’s participation in the games is not captured in the 2017 Budget but the ministry has been assured of necessary funds from extra budgetary sources like the National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF).
The Islamic Solidarity Games is a regional multi-sporting event held among Islamic nations.
The first edition was held in Saudi Arabia in 2005 while the 2013 edition took place in Indonesia.
Sports that feature in the games are athletics, para-athletics, boxing, judo, karate, football, gymnastics, basketball, handball, volleyball, swimming, water polo, table tennis, weightlifting and tennis. Others are wrestling, taekwondo and shooting.
Source: Authority Newspaper