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Of distractions, denials and decoys

By Dele Animasaun

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always”-Mahatma Gandhi

The mischief makers are at it again: in fact, they have never stopped stirring trouble. It is hard for some people when they feel they have not been invited to a gathering then they have to gate crash the party; the only trouble is, it was never a closed gathering; it has always been an open invite. Nation building requires everyone to contribute.  As they say, many hands make light work. So why then the perpetual mudslinging and the readiness to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

The obstinance of “it is my way or no way” does not help anyone, it slows down progress especially, when the facts do not bare anything to the hard-held beliefs that things will go horribly wrong even when it has not. The fake news, gas lighting, dog whistling, fear mongering and outright hatred of some section of our people based on religion, tribes or political party is stuff of notoriety, these doom mongers have a passion for creating a great wedge to the unity of the nation and to its progress.

They have a compulsion to wreck peaceful coexistence and order and if this continues there are two conclusions: one, everyone loses and two, the nation will move on without the discerning and unhelpful voices. I have a strong feeling the latter will be the road taken.  Our young people are wiser to the connivance going on and they would not play the game. The message would be; you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem.  This is not preaching to the converted here but it is for those who are hellbent in creating problems to the growth and progress: you better shape up or shape out. In the last couple of weeks, the same ole diatribe; that Nigeria is becoming an Islamic country and of course, they vowed they will not let it happen.

The strategy was to politicise religion and tribal division, because they know there is an existing fault lines. Well, it is lame, it didn’t work before and it will not work. People are tired of the same ole things; hate does not build good foundation or outcomes. What is needed more than anything is a country that works for everyone and not the very few.

The vice-president Osinbajo, recently had to respond at a gathering to the same alarmists who have been banging on regarding Nigerian’s subscription to Sukuk Bonds. He said, “Part of the problem is the failure of Christian leadership to take its rightful place. We focus our minds on something we call the Islamic agenda. We look for it everywhere as if we are looking for demons. And he went on, “But where is the Christian agenda. Are we not entitled to one? We are too divided as Christians to have an agenda. The key to the unity and progress of Nigeria is in the church,” the learned professor stated,

“The person who brought us into the bank is not a Fulani or Northerner, the person was a Christian, so why are we complaining? Nigeria is the fourth largest shareholder in the Islamic Bank. This wasn’t Buhari’s making. We must have facts before saying things. But above all, we must ask ourselves if being a member of the bank profits us or not. For me, I have no problem with this. We can use what we get there to develop our society. This is (the) most important for me…. Nigeria became a member of the Islamic Development Bank in 2005 and the first person to sit as director of the bank was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The second person to sit as a director is the current Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, and both of them are Christians. So, when people talk about Islamic agenda, sometimes I am lost”.

I am not sure it could have been explained or rationalised any clearer but there is a very strong suspicion that it will not satisfy those that are determined to find dark forces at work, wherever they look, it is in their nature and they have been at it for far too long to stop anytime soon.

This is the crux of the matter; they are always on the lookout for problems, most of the time where there are none and yet, they do not proffer solutions. The bad news brigade are exactly that; bad news. What Nigeria and its citizens need more than anything right now is Good News.

The VP stressed that there are no plans to Islamise Nigeria through the Sukuk bond or the country’s membership of the Islamic Development Bank. He said, “The Sukuk is an Islamic concept, which enables people to have access to credit. It is essentially like a bond. The US, UK, China, South Africa have all used the Sukuk. Once there is money in the market, let us not get sentimental. The most important thing is for us to use those monies well.

Frankly speaking, he is talking to a stone wall as these muck rakers have no desire to listen to the truth or face the facts, because it does not fit into their narrative.  They have their ulterior motives and they are sticking to it; forget the fact that the nation needs growth and repair many of its structures that has been neglected for decades and disinvested  by subsequent administrations; poverty is rampant, far too many of our young are out of work, not in training or in education, many workers not paid for months, industries stalled or shrunken, poor and neglected roads and transportation, society divided, great inequities, crumbling establishments, lower mortality rates, higher cost of living and deplorable power outage.

So really, is this the time to look the gift horse in the mouth? Of course, Twitter Lord himself, Fani-Kayode was quick to twitter: “The D-8 countries are Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. They have one thing in common; ISLAM.@ProfOsinbajo talks down on CAN for raising the alarm of islamisation. Nigeria is now a member of EVERY Islamic org. yet no islamisation agenda!

“Are we to keep quiet until they either pull down every church or announce it officially? Somebody needs to talk to the VP. He has forgotten why he was named the running mate to Buhari instead of his mentor, Bola Tinubu.

He needs to study the book of Esther before it is too late!” Can someone ask the Twitter dribbler, what has he done positively to improve Nigeria lately or ever? And when did he suddenly become religious?  He is the antithesis to progress. Seriously, he should heed the advice; if you have nothing good to say, say nothing!

My father always used to say, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument. ” Good sense does not always lie with the loudest shouters, nor can we say that a large, unruly crowd is always the best arbiter of what is right.” — Desmond Tutu

At the risk of flogging a dead horse, please see below, what I wrote when the same sentiments was raised four years ago: “Last week, I wrote about the uproar  caused when Osun State took up Sukuk, an Islamic financial bond or certificate for the sole purpose of  developing projects in the state. The accusations were that by doing so, the Osun State administration was on a fast trajectory of islamising the state. Can we ask if so and on what basis they have arrived at this conclusion?

Judging from my mail bag, some of the readers think there is a case to answer and that there is indeed, something going on. I have added some of the comments from last week’s column further down this page. Some believe that the connection is because the governor is a Muslim and that is why the state is using a Sukuk, banking and therefore, the governor is slowly turning the state Islamic.

Whatever their rationale, it is important to have a sane and civil dialogue without reducing the discussions to a mudslinging match. We will have no outcome or resolution if we cannot deal with our differences without throwing the baby out with the bath water.

There is a big elephant in the room here and some opportunists are using it to their advantage because they have ulterior motives. Unfortunately, when they start the fire, they will stand back and let other people fight it out and innocent people will get embroiled in this melee that was not initially of their own doing.  Personally, I felt that the brouhaha was in the least alarmist, and at most, prejudicial with a thick religious extremist profiling. So I question the way some of our people love stoking  the Islamic/Christian divide  sentiments .

There is a worrying trend of creating religious hatred  over certain conspiracy theories ;that there is a dominance of one religion/tribe over another. They fight for whose turn it is to drive Nigeria, never minding the fact that what really matters is in what direction and for the best interests of All Nigerians!

I believe it is always wrong to continue fanning and inciting hatred on religious and tribal lines. It is dangerous stoking this particular that hornet’s nest, time and time again. So what matters to the ordinary people, and it is not much to ask for: employment, housing, education, training, a decent standard of living, consistent and regular power supply, better access to health and social care, safe roads and transports and better governance in all sphere of public and private agencies.  It is not much to ask for or is it? So for those empire building, the fact remains: We are Nigerians regardless and they do not speak for the majority.

Our politicians are renowned world over for their incredulous level of corruption and playing one side against the other. The world and his brother know and Nigerians know the tactic; to keep people distracted while looting. It is time to stop playing that game and time to atone for the disgraceful and despicable reputation.

What really matters right now is Nigerians deserve better and should have a better standard of living for everyone not for the very few, for every Nigerian no matter, the coordinates.  We should not be dictated to by the hate mongers to choose a camp or sides or allow them to continue pillaging and misappropriating the nation’s commonwealth. We do not have to agree all the time but we should be open to dialogue, no matter what. This is the only way we grow as people and as individuals. We can ill afford to let such generational sentiments mar our collective growth as people and nation.

Mail bag response;

*Aunty Denrele,

Your write up-To be a critic: say nothing positive, do nothing positive and be nothing positive in the Vanguard Newspaper of Sunday, November 17, 2013 is a treasure. The current crops of Christian leaders are half-baked religious leaders who never studied comparative religion to have a wider scope. They are shareholders in most of these interests charging bank, who see Islamic Banking as a challenge to their business. They teach their members nothing, but hatred, intolerance and aggressions towards other faith.

Thanks for being your father’s daughter.

Tajdeen Ozimede

Another mail:

I just read your article and it’s clear you belong to the APC; so whatever the party faithful does is okay by you. Your choice really.  Point is, the South West has turned a page and people ARE murmuring and for good reasons. I also assume you’re a Muslim. Kindly read the article of Dele Sobowale( right above yours) and juxtapose that with the rising discontent from hitherto quiet quarters about the perceived Islamisation of the South West. Currently ALL the governments of the states therein ARE governed by people of ONE faith.

In a multi faith society like ours, trouble is brewing. Please, please, please know this for sure: many of the people talking about Osun State and his not too subtle tilt towards his faith in the major ARE not officials of CAN nor the PDP: both of which you clearly despise. Apolitical (without affiliation to any political party in Nigeria) people are seriously worried about Osun State and the religious tensions brewing.

Name calling is an APC thing so the tone of the article wasn’t a surprise. Just listen to people more.

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