By Nnanna Ochereome
The Bible says that two cannot walk together unless they agree. Nigeria is perhaps, the only country in the world where over 300 tribes of different religious and cultural persuasions are walking together though they clearly do not agree. Every effort being made to foster that agreement and chart a common course forward is thwarted by a single member of the group in the name of nonexistent “oneness”.
How many of us who are not from the Muslim North understand what is really going there today? How many of us can fathom why members of a community will rise with arms and abduct students for ransom and destroy schools built to give the children of the poor masses a better life? How many of us understand why people would collaborate with armed foreigners to kill their own kinsfolk and destroy their communities?
How many of us even understand the mental attitude that is still driving a tribe in this 21st century to leave their ancestral lands, travel very far away with their livestock, settle in the forests on people’s lands without prior permission, destroy their farms, kill their farmers, rape their women and kidnap innocent travellers for ransom? Can we even understand how come law enforcement agencies and the government of the day are giving such people protection while persecuting those who seek to defend their people and lands?
READ ALSO: Reading between Sheikh Gumi’s lines (1)
This is the Nigeria we now live in. Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, son of the late Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, deserves a closer listen when he makes what sounds like strange statements within the context of the incredible Nigeria that we find ourselves in.
Gumi has said two things that raised the dust. The first was that the Federal Government, perhaps rallying the various Northern governors, should grant amnesty to the criminals and terrorists of the North West and North Central who have officially been glamourised with the name: bandits. He also said that Christians within the Army have been mobilised to kill these bandits who are invariably ethnic Muslims. This is a call for them to turn their criminality and terrorism into an Islamic war targeting non-Muslims. Gumi is indirectly lobbying the bandits to turn their criminality into a purely Islamic jihad, like Boko Haram, in order to qualify for amnesty and the so-called “deradicalisation” bonanza.
To understand Gumi’s sympathetic inclinations to the North West terrorists, ask yourself these questions: Who are these criminals? How did they come to be? What is their mission? How did they suddenly, within the present dispensation, morph into another threat which the Nigerian Armed Forces have proved incapable of crushing despite all the efforts?
The answer to all these questions, strangely enough, has been in the public sphere for a long time, unchallenged and undebunked. It says that Fulani fighters from all the countries in the Sahel were assembled by some Northern politicians, monarchs and clerics in the Zamfara wilderness around 2013. They were told that Nigeria belongs to their tribe, and that if their preferred candidate lost the 2015 election they should commence another “jihad” as their forefather, Usman Dan Fodio, had done to establish the Sokoto Caliphate which has ruled Nigeria since independence. They were promised new settlements in lands of indigenous people when their “man” came to power. They were armed and trained and often received “helicopter drops” in their bush abodes.
But when their “man” won the election, they were abandoned in the forests. With the weapons in their hands, and gorging on the nearby Zamfara gold mines, kidnapping and community raids, they turned into the monster they are today. Several names have been credited with telling this story. The most recent was Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, a former co-architect of the coalition that the All Progressives Congress, APC, to power. Baraje should know what he is saying because he was one of them. And his accusation that the APC created the bandits has not been refuted.
Gumi also knows how these bandits came to be. He is only asking the APC Federal Government to stop killing their own creation but instead extend amnesty to them like others who have fought the nation with arms have been treated (the Biafrans, Niger Delta militants and others). It may not make sense to you, but as a Muslim and Fulani-born cleric talking to people of his own sort, Gumi feels justified to make this call.
Let us remember also that Gumi is a retired Captain of the Nigerian Army. For him to talk about deployments along religious lines, he must know what he is saying. Can we really say that the Army, Police, Immigration, Customs, Prisons, Civil Defence and the various intelligence establishments have not been used to promote the religious, regional and ethnic supremacy of a section of the country against the others? Why then are we calling for “true federalism” and “devolution of powers”? Why did we fight the Biafra-Nigeria War, and why is Biafra back on the table under Mazi Nnamdi Kanu? Why is resource control an issue, and why did the Niger Delta militants take up arms before they accepted amnesty? Why do we have the Eastern Security Network, ESN; the O’odua People’s Congress, OPC, and Amotekun Corps?
Gumi is not talking to you and me. He is lobbying those in power to extend “soft landing” to the terrorists/bandits because they are all part of the same tribal agenda to confiscate the Nigeria which belongs to us all. An ethnic agenda to take Nigeria from the rest of us is undisguised. It requires appropriate responses from those of us who own the land.