The Yoruba collective identity is defined by common myths, history, values and symbols. This bond is what the Muslim advocacy group, The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) seeks to destroy. Under the leadership of Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC has been trying too hard to solve a problem that does not exist through his bigoted, misguided and pernicious releases and outbursts.


Can the Yoruba, who are the most liberal and tolerant in matters of religion in the whole wide world, maintain the great attribute that sets them apart, and puts them on a pedestal? We owe our foundation to this priceless inheritance. An enviable inheritance of tolerance, through which religion does not define our cultural or ethnic identities. Without digging too deep, there are plenty of issues we need to fix in the West of Nigeria: our economy, education, health care, human capital development, land use, security, water conservation, government, infrastructure, etc. Certainly religion is not one of them because if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. Among the Yoruba, religion is considered an open arena where everyone can do their own thing in its open spaces, with accommodation for all.

What defines the Yoruba tolerance gene, is not Christianity, Islam or indigenous belief; it is civil religion. The Yoruba collective identity is defined by common myths, history, values and symbols. This bond is what the Muslim advocacy group, The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) seeks to destroy. Under the leadership of Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC has been trying too hard to solve a problem that does not exist through his bigoted, misguided and pernicious releases and outbursts.

MURIC fancies itself as a human rights organisation but what it actually does is to spread hate and religious intolerance as doctrine. Under the one-man show of Professor Akintola, the organisation packages bigotry as theology in loud, media enabled vicious rhetoric. Formed as a counterweight to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), following CAN’S growing pressure group status after Nigeria joined the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in 1986, MURIC has polluted the spaces of practice between religion, civil society and civil religion. It has expended its agency to undermine social cohesion and social interaction by devaluing the symbols and values of Yoruba communalism and identity. Under Akintola, the sociopolitical dimensions of religion has been exploited for religious control and fear-mongering. Should we allow him?

Before MURIC does irreparable harm, there is an urgent need to isolate Professor Akintola and his sponsors, lest they set the West of Nigeria on fire. The Yoruba can no longer take MURIC for granted. Professor Akintola is working overtime to divide the region along religious lines. He is succeeding bit by bit. He is no longer an irritant some of us thought he is. He is a threat.


Professor Ishaq Akintola and those like him within Islam and Christendom should be called out before they turn an otherwise peaceful region into a boiling cauldron of religious mess. All lovers of peace and harmony must let these apostles of hate know that the ethos of exclusivity is alien to the Yoruba founding philosophy. The Yoruba do not define civic publics along religious lines. As Yoruba, we see each religious system as as an alternative tradition worthy of respect, acceptance and cross-consultation. Muslims visit Wolis and Christians visit Alfas. Despite all pretences, many of us visit the Babalawo when we get hit by life’s curveball.

Before MURIC does irreparable harm, there is an urgent need to isolate Professor Akintola and his sponsors, lest they set the West of Nigeria on fire. The Yoruba can no longer take MURIC for granted. Professor Akintola is working overtime to divide the region along religious lines. He is succeeding bit by bit. He is no longer an irritant some of us thought he is. He is a threat. This man is hell bent on retailing the mutual suspicion obtainable for free at the national level to the region. He must be denied. Where did anyone meet to decide that only one Muslim will be a governor in the South-West? How did he know Amotekun had Christian roots? This man is a disgrace to intellectuals in Nigeria. He has passed his sell by date and should shut up!

At this critical time in Nigeria’s history, every Yoruba must be vigilant. Religious conflict is an easy way to destroy a people who are homogeneous in every other way. MURIC and its agents must be denied their capacity to provoke and unleash terror through inciteful and divisive rhetoric. The Yoruba must stand united with one voice.


People of valour should occupy the public opinion spaces and encourage the Yoruba to take pride in how our indigenous values and Ọmọluwabi ethos continue to shape our ontology and epistemology. A rethink of the various publics within which people create religious meaning is now an existential imperative. The society people like Akintola is seeking to destroy, under the guise of Islam, are a people with profound understanding of pluralism. Before bigots and rabid zealots arose among us through Christianity and Islam, the Yoruba maintained a dynamic mix of traditions, because of the staying power of traditional moral systems and practices among those professing Islam or Christianity.

At this critical time in Nigeria’s history, every Yoruba must be vigilant. Religious conflict is an easy way to destroy a people who are homogeneous in every other way. MURIC and its agents must be denied their capacity to provoke and unleash terror through inciteful and divisive rhetoric. The Yoruba must stand united with one voice. We must condemn those who seek to use religion to divide us. Daylight must be denied those who are anxious to exploit our differences to drive a wedge between us. Like our forefathers did, we must not allow hatred and bigotry to cast a dark shadow over our political system and threaten the Yoruba connective tissue. That which we have, is what others envy. We must not take it for granted. We must keep it. Meanwhile, Amotekun has come to stay!

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo