His introduction stunned the hall into silence. Prof. Obini Ekpe, a representative of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. “I am an Ibo man from Ebonyi state and a Muslim. Therefore, whatever affects the Iboman affects me, whatever affects the Muslim affects me.
“Whatever makes the Ibo man happy I am happy whatever makes him sad I am sad. Whatever makes a Muslim happy I am happy, whatever makes a Muslim sad I am sad,” he said as the hall went into complete silence.
In fact, not even the usual shuffling of foots could be heard. The attention of everyone was arrested. He proceeded to speak but not eulogized the president’s speech as had been the custom, instead he said. “I make case for the religious minorities in the South-east, south-west, South-south and North,” he said.
“The minority Christians in the North have not committed any offence being Christians, the minority Muslims in the South have not committed any offence being Muslims. But they are discriminated against. We seek constitutional protection,” he said and summed up by saying “Religious minorities are under grossly represented here in this conference.”
The professor claimed that the state has no provision for the protection of the minority religious groups in the areas where their faith is not the dominant religion. Accordingly, he said the conference must make it a constitutional matter for each state to autonomy to minority faith to have schools and teachers that teach their faith.
He drew applause when he took his seat. The speech forced many to take a second look at the constitutional provisions and the need to have government recruit CRK and IRK teachers in states where the adherents of these religions are in the minority.
Many in the audience suddenly realized that the Muslim faithful in the South were not adequately represented and not few nodded in agreement at the lopsidedness as if it was indeed a new truth.