By  Is’haq Modibbo Kawu
We must salute Femi Aribisala, the intrepid VANGUARD columnist, for his remarkable piece this week, titled: “WHY CHRISTIANS MUST STOP SUPPORTING ISRAEL AGAINST PALESTINIANS”. He spoke for our collective humanity, and sufficiently stoked our indignation against the Zionist state of Israel and the crimes it is currently committing against the Palestinian people, in the largest open prison on earth, the Gaza Strip.

To address the piece to Christians spoke volumes, because religion has made many otherwise decent people, to condone Israel’s criminal and racist atrocities against Palestinians. Rightwing interpretations of doctrine have beclouded the fact that Palestinians are both Muslim and Christian; yet they have not found sufficient solidarity from our Christian compatriots in Nigeria.

There is an extrapolation of the inter-religious struggle; the Muslim-Christian rivalry within Nigeria, into attitudes and positions taken on the Middle East crisis. So if Muslims support the Palestinian struggle, the tendency is for Christians to support Israel!

This ridiculous, they-against-us approach, has allowed the entrenchment of pro-Zionist biases within Nigerian Christian circles. That is why I think the Aribisala piece is so excellent! He is afterall, a learned Christian, who nevertheless understands deeply the human essence of the Palestinian tragedy.

On the other hand, it is also a fact that things have changed, often for the worse, in our country. My generation was anti-imperialist; anti-racist and anti-Zionist. We read very widely, radical literature and understood the main issues in international affairs.

But today, there is a generally reactionary pall on the world.  Imperialism frames international discourse; while with the spread of rightwing religious fundamentalism, there is an often, reactionary religious, appreciation of the issues that define the contemporary world. International affairs are appreciated through imperialist media outlets like CNN, with strongZionist sympathies.

The Palestinian resistance is framed as “terrorist”, and the unequal weaponry between Palestinian guerillas and the nuclearised, Zionist Israeli military (the fourth most powerful on earth), is underplayed; and their constant  refrain is that “Israel has the right to defend itself”.

The Palestinians, who were forcibly dispossessed to create the Zionist state and who do not even have an army, an airforce or armour are then framed as attempting to wipe out Israel from the map.

That is the Israel which continues to annex Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank and is systematically, ethnically cleansing Palestinians from East Jerusalem. Israel flouts UN Resolutions with active backing of the USA, the most powerful imperialist state in human history. And its hypocrisy has been so glaring in the current Gaza crisis.

It postures as brokering  “honest” mediation yet it replenishes munitions that Zionist Israel has used to kill nearly two thousand Palestinians and the near-total destruction of the pitiable (even at the best of times!) infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The immorality of imperialist politicians is incredible!

Nigerians must rediscover the indignation that can propel us to stand up for our collective humanity. It revolts human decency to live through the Zionist crimes committed in the Gaza Strip: systematic targeting of civilians; the killing of hundreds of Palestinian children; leveling of residences and mosques; the bombing of ambulances; hospitals; schools and even the only power plant in the Strip.

Those who carry out these barbaric acts cannot share the values of civilised humanity. We must therefore speak up to denounce those crimes. We are aware that the Nigerian ruling class is in cahoots with the Zionist state of Israel today, with the Israelis embedded in our country’s security infrastructure and creaming off millions upon millions of dollars from Nigeria everyday.

But that should not be reason for us to keep silent as the Zionist state continues its criminal atrocities. The blockade of Gaza must be lifted without delay; while Palestinians in the Gaza Strip should be allowed to bring in all that they require to reconstruct their lives. The disgraceful acquiessence of the reactionary Arab regimes in the crimes against Palestine remain a major indictment of these regimes.

On a final note, it is imperative that the international system should find the collective resolve to end this vicious circle of attacks. Relevant UN Resolutions must be implemented to ensure justice for the Palestinian people. It was not Palestinians or the Muslim world that organised the Holocaust against the Jews during the Second World War.

Of course, that was one of the greatest crimes in human history. But why must the Palestinian people suffer for the crimes of fascism and imperialism? Unfortunately, when the “international community” relies on envoys like Tony Blair to help achieve peace, it is clear there will never be a sincere commitment to a just peace that gives the Palestinians their homeland.

I will like to paraphrase the Turkish revolutionary poet, NazimHikmet, that my heart has been suffering bombardment in the Gaza Strip in the past couple of weeks, in solidarity with the Palestinian people!

Ilorin the accumulated ROT and consequences

I RETURNED to Abuja on Monday from my two-week stay in Ilorin. I explained the spiritual and cultural significance of my return home annually during Ramadhan, two weeks ago. And because I arrived home during the last week of the Holy month, it was easy to see the  absence of governance and leadership in the city. Those charged with leadership had travelled out for the Umrah, the lesser hajj.

That period has been converted into a period and location for the intrigues associated with the politics that has severely stunted development and has delivered some of the worst indices of underdevelopment in the past twelve years in our state.

The tell tale signs of leadership absence were the mountains upon mountains of waste in practically every quarter of the city of Ilorin. There was a surreal feel to the lives of people as they were being consumed by waste. Clearly, there was nothing resembling municipal governance in the days leading to the Eid el Fitr.

In the midst of it all, it occurred to me that I have not seen a drop of water come out of taps in the past four months and my residences are located right in the heart of the GRA. A friend corrected me that it was actually the fifth month! And to imagine that water supply has always been at the heart of the elaborate scam that governance is in Kwara, since 2003.

We have seen contracts running into billions of naira that have just refused to deliver potable water in our homes. Those who sell water in tankers or jerry cans make very good business since we cannot do without water. In many instances, those able to, just dig boreholes and in Kwara, the borehole business has boomed so much that Indian rigs have now entered the field, with Indian workers in tow.

Yet the government carries the absurd advertisement in the media, including on online outfits, claiming that “It’s good here” in Kwara. It must be good for those latched to the Bukola Saraki gravy train that has been running amock since 2003.

If there is any indictment of the Bukola Saraki hegemony, it must be located squarely in the neglect of the educational system, especially in terms of the infrastructure in schools. It was to his eternal discredit that in eight years, Bukola Saraki, perfunctorily “rehabilitated” just four schools in our community. Well, the pioneer secondary school is Government Secondary School (GSS) Ilorin, which graduated thousands of students from our grandfathers’ generation.

That school is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. And because it is also my alma mater, I have returned there to behold the tragic  rot of what used to be one of the great schools of Northern Nigeria. In my time, as I had written here a couple of months ago, there was an incredible infrastructure for sports: football; table and lawn tennis; volleyball; basketball; badminton;  squash racket and fives; hockey; track and field as well as cricket.

The entire structure has collapsed! The school had physics; chemistry; biology and geography laboratories; we were taught trades: woodwork; metalwork; technical drawing. The education was comprehensive! Not anymore.

The public school system has been neglected to the point of a criminal indictment of those responsible for leadership. And to make things worse, such public primary schools like United School or Saint Barnabas have become anything but genuine primary schools today.

I keep wondering how children learn where schools don’t even have play grounds; yet the United School Ilorin’s football field was used to train members of the Kwara State Academicals in the past. And but for the assistance of the ETF in 2010, the oldest primary school, the Okesuna School which started in 1915, would have just collapsed on the heads of children! So while those in power sloganeer, the reality on ground is that life has continued to worsen for the mass of our people. And sitting on top of this rotten pile is the deluded Bukola  Saraki, the one that his sidekicks and hangers on call their leader.

They are desperate to keep power, because Kwara is the main “industry” they have to hold on to; the ultimate gravy train!

And of course, the season of politics has raised the temperature, including the peddling of all kinds of rumour. We have an old tradition of late night “assemblies” in our community, where people meet over cups of tea and bread and pepper soup, to exchange banters and talk about burning issues in our society.

The appointment of Dr. Abubakar Olanrewaju Suleiman as minister represents an interesting departure; the first minister that was not nominated by Bukola Saraki, in the past twelve years!

Freedom is spreading its wings like a bird and the message it carries, is got to be heard, as Gil Scott Heron once sang! The last issue as I stepped out of Ilorin, was the renewal of the poster/billboards war. Bukola Saraki and his henchmen had defaced the city with billboards and posters, as if the chap is still governor. When other politicians paste their own, thugs are sent to remove them. Now, there is a trend of a fight back. Bukola Saraki’s posters and billboards are also being torn!

His sidekicks are crying foul, because they are getting a serving of their own medicine! There are interesting days ahead  in Kwara. I think people have seen through the hoax, deceit, lies and monumental heists since 2003; and the worsening indices of their lived experiences, make them anger more and more! Kwara State seems poised at the edge of major changes as we approach the 2015 elections.

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