Columns

October 27, 2023

Ethno-religious toxicity, By Donu Kogbara

Ethno-religious toxicity, By Donu Kogbara

SHEIKH Ahmed Gumi, an Islamic cleric, has described the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Minister, Nyesom Wike, as “satanic” for allowing the Israeli ambassador to pay him a courtesy visit.

Gumi also accused President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government of pursuing an anti-Muslim agenda, then said that Christians cannot be trusted with power, then urged Tinubu to sack Wike, then declared that Muslims would rise up against the President and truncate his tenure.

I am seriously disappointed in Gumi. I’ve interviewed him and found him to be pleasant, intelligent and reflective. This type of bigoted talk is, in my opinion, completely beneath an educated man who should have a more enlightened world-view.

Gumi should remember that Israel has quite a few supporters in Nigeria and that quite a few Christians stood by Tinubu despite Tinubu’s choice of Shettima, a fellow Muslim, as his running mate.

Even I – and I’m Obidient, so no fan of Tinubu’s – said on this page, during the election campaign, that I wasn’t bothered about Tinubu’s choice because he is a liberal Muslim.

A lot of Christians told me off for being so relaxed about the Muslim-Muslim ticket issue. And I understood their annoyance because Muslim Northerners had made it clear that they would totally reject Tinubu if he chose a Northern Christian running mate.

And we all know that the average Northern Muslim would have gone absolutely ballistic if a Christian presidential candidate had dared to select a Christian running mate.

Meanwhile, Yoruba friends who don’t warm to Tinubu and hoped that he’d lose at the Supreme Court are telling me that their relatives are pressuring them to warmly embrace Tinubu on tribal grounds.

I wonder whether a day will come when the majority of Nigerians will have matured, both morally and intellectually, to the point at which they judge individuals purely on the basis of their characters rather than on the basis of their ethnic and religious affiliations.

And, by the way, Gumi is not alone in being upset because Wike got the FCT cabinet slot – which has hitherto gone to Northerners.

Such complainants should ask themselves whether FCT would be a gleaming jewel in Nigeria’s crown if billions of petrodollars from Wike’s native Niger Delta region had not been pumped into Abuja and environs for nearly half a century.

The oil-producing part of this country is nowhere near as infrastructurally developed as Abuja; and most of its long-suffering indigenes are drowning in poverty and pollution caused by oil exploration and production. And if we are going to make decisions about who deserves what job on purely geopolitical grounds, I think it is fair to say that the Minister for FCT should ALWAYS be from South-South states like Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa Ibom!

For a more secure Nigeria

I SOMETIMES share this page with other writers whose opinions I respect. Please find below an article by my uncle, Jonas Odocha.

The basic tenet attributable to good governance is the security of life and property. When this is attained in any society or nation, it manifests in obvious peaceful coexistence and development. This pathway to national development and growth is guarded so jealously that nations go to extreme lengths to ensure secured borders and the maintenance of internal peace and harmony. Insecurity is, therefore, not an option; it is dreaded, because it has dire consequences, not only on the life and physical assets of the citizenry, but also on the overall growth and development of a society or nation.

It is sad to observe that in Nigeria, in the past couple of decades, insecurity has continued to assume incremental forms, shapes and dimensions. These include the untoward activities of terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, agitators, resource thieves, cultists and drug abusers, which have inflicted unprecedented tolls on loss of life, damage to assets and safety of our highways and institutions. 

All these anti-social activities we must individually and collectively condemn, and the government and its security agencies should be proactive enough to ensure that they are eliminated to the barest minimum.

In as much as evil machinations cannot all be detected a priori, science and technology have become credible tools in enhancing actionable intelligence gathering, to forestall or eliminate the perpetration and or perpetrators of these unwholesome activities. In the recent past, technology-assisted intelligence gathering was employed to rescue a trans-border kidnap victim, here in Nigeria, which confirms that security agencies, determined to track terrorists or criminals, should have modern tools at their disposal which can readily facilitate their operations. The crux of the matter is sincerity of purpose.

It is quite disturbing to observe the ugly incidents of attacks and ambush of security personnel, in their efforts to control insecurity. It is not only demoralising to their colleagues but also painful to the bereaved families. Our thoughts and prayers must reach out to these gallant patriots and their families.

The government and our security agencies should also consider and review their response to the activities of these miscreants, particularly in the neighbouring communities where these activities are carried out. A recent incident in which eight security personnel were ambushed and eliminated in Ehime Mbano, in Imo State, degenerated to the random and wanton destruction of physical assets and harassment of the villagers, who fled into the bushes. Last night, it was announced that air strikes were carried out in Anambara and Imo states, targeted at IPOB/ESN hideouts. I would want to suggest that extreme caution be taken when it comes to air raids and air strikes, realising the collateral damage that is usually associated with such missions. But again, tongues have continued to wag. 

Why? In Niger State, a few weeks ago, 38 officers and men were eliminated and an NAF helicopter also downed by bandits, but there was no air strike reprisal in the neighbouring communities, and one wonders. Again, a Zamfara State lawmaker narrated how bandits shot and killed six security personnel in their community, and as in Niger State, there was no reprisal strike by security agencies, and again you begin to wonder.

As we condemn the attacks and ambush of security agencies while carrying out their assigned duties, particularly their mission to flush out and eliminate the perpetrators, it must be such that innocent citizens are not unduly impacted. 

The impression should also not be created that some areas are treated with kid gloves, whereas some others must be taught very bitter punitive lessons. Such glaring discriminatory approach will never help in eliminating insecurity in Nigeria.

Supremely predictable

THE Supreme Court has just affirmed Tinubu’s presidency.

Nobody is surprised. Such is life in the so-called Giant Of Africa.

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