We should be careful in handling matters pertaining to religion. It’s a time bomb that could lead to destruction of lives and properties to unimaginable proportion and may eventually lead to the disintegration of this great country. If in doubt we should consult Lebanon hitherto one of the shopping centres of the world, but because of religious altercation which resulted to full scale civil war that ruined the country and up to now it has not fully recovered after the war. While fighting on religion, the world moved on and couldn’t wait for them and before you knew it, Dubai had taken over from Lebanon as a one of hubs of the World. The talibans have made Afghanistan a failed state. Ditto Al Shabaab has made Somalia a country virtually without a government, as violence and anarchy have taken over.
It’s in this context that I want security outfits in the country to tread carefully the Apostle Suleiman’s gaffe. Notwithstanding what anybody feels, Apostle Suleiman goofed in directing his men to kill any herdsmen that is seen in the premises of his church. That was an inciting statement. But the Christians are saying that what is good for geese is good for the gander. Their position which also makes sense is that El Rufai too should be invited for saying that anybody that killed a Fulani had collected a loan which the Fulani herdsmen will come back and collect his loan by killing those concerned. He was also alleged to have said that he paid Fulani men to stop the killing of Southern kaduna people. These are statements that equally qualify as incitements. But the man is immune to any security interrogation because of constitutional provision that allows governors and president getting away with anything as long as they are in power. But there is also the inciting statement alleged to have been made by a daughter of highly placed person in this country where she was alleged to have said that the killing of Christians will continue until they become Muslims. There is the clamour for her to be interrogated also. I refused to mention name in this particularly case because the source is from social which has no standard of cross checking stories and could therefore be falsehood, although the author credited with the story is yet to refute it.
Based on the sensitivity of religion that is supposed to be a private affair but has taken centre stage over all issues, there is the need for those handling the religious divide to tread carefully to avoid being accused of taking side which could heat the polity and become full blown with disastrous consequences.
Bearing in mind what we are going through as nation when religion becomes uncontrollable nobody knows who will be the victim. BH started with burning of churches, then it graduated to burning of police stations, then Schools, then mosques and now they kill Muslims and Christians in equal measure, in fact the casualties are now more on the Muslims side than the Christians.
How did we find ourselves in this mess? Most of the mayhem started with utterances such as the ones mentioned above. Then people get divided along two irreconcilable lines. Moderates like me that look for common ground will be distrusted and become helpless. Remember Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who was caught between supporting his Igbo kinsmen that were being massacred by Federal authorities and his love for united Nigeria at the end he was not trusted by both sides and had to go on exile. While trying to appreciate the predicament of his people by advising Ojukwu to negotiate a better bargain for Igbos in a United and just Nigeria by becoming a peace envoy, the Igbos felt he was not trust worthy and jettisoned his moderate views and opted for total secession, the federal forces on other hand were also not prepared to concede anything for the Igbos and in the end his views were rejected by both parties and both parties were worse off after 30 months of war leaving behind monumental destruction of lives and properties on both sides. No matter how anybody looks at it, the clock of progress in Nigeria was reversed for 30 solid months!
So I still insist for an unbiased and cautious approach to this sensitive and delicate matter which if not properly handled could lead to demise of the contraption called Nigeria. We should learn from history that no country survives two civil wars. It is therefore imperative for us to do the needful by taking these broader, unbiased decisions.
All religious and traditional leaders should be summoned at state, federal levels and a document be produced spelling out the no go areas which should include utterances bordering on incitement and threats be stopped. All those making inciting comments be apprehended and the full wrath of law will be applied Irrespective of whoever is involved.
Periodic meetings with permanent structures created at Ward, local, state and federal levels be established where membership, in addition to security operatives, will include religious and traditional rulers, labour organizations, vigilante groups and well respected prominent elders in the community. This is in addition to normal security committees created at the local, state and federal levels.
All security threats be identified and appropriate proactive measures be taken. This will stop such threats from escalating. Substantial funds be spent on intelligence gathering i.e covert operations will be given top priority. When these threats assumed bigger dimensions, then maximum force should be used immediately.
The pursuance of religious harmony should be a top priority of government at all the three tiers of governance. The political leadership at all levels ignite religious and ethnic disharmony in their policies which are largely exclusive and not inclusive. The lop-sidedness in appointments and initiation and execution of policies and programmes have compounded the religious and ethnic divide leading to tension and apprehension which the disgruntled elements used as basis to unleash mayhem in the system. It is advisable that the political leadership should deliberately balance the dividends of democracy to the various tendencies in the system.ADVERTISEMENTADVERTISEMENTADVERTISEMENT
Since we have chosen the path of religious fanaticism, which by and large, borders on hypocrisy and manipulation of the gullible Nigeria populace, we have to use tact, wisdom and above all be fair to all adherents of the faiths (since we are secular state) when it comes to taking decisions on religion. In the light of the explosive nature of religion, we should be reminded that when this opium of the people assumes a life of its own, it will not be controllable. It therefore behoves on us, especially the elites who are the culprit of manipulation of religion for our predetermined ends to know that we have everything to loose in terms of properties and access to unlimited state funds, while the urchins being used have nothing to loose because life is a living hell for them and therefore they take the extreme path, even those on your side sometimes will not spare you. Zama da kaza baya hana yanka.
Those who have ears let them hear. A word is enough for the wise. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
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I recommend that we read Yusuf Bala Usman’s book on the manipulation of religion In Nigeria. Though produced more than 30 years ago when the situation was not as bad as this, nevertheless the book is still germane to this monstrous social issue staring us on the face