ON THE KILLINGS IN JOS & IBADAN
In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful
'Recite to them in all truth the story of Adam's two sons: How each offered a sacrifice, and how the offering of one was accepted while that of the other was not. The latter said: 'I will kill you.' The former replied: 'Allah only accepts the sacrifice from the righteous. Even if you stretch your hand to kill me, I shall not stretch my hand to slay you, for I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I intend to let you bear the burden of my sins as well as yours and thus become an inmate of the Fire which is the reward for wrongdoers.' The latter's soul prompted him to kill his brother; he killed him and thus became one of the losers. (He carried around the dead body of his brother and did not know what to do with it.) Then Allah sent a raven, which dug the ground to show him how to bury the dead body of his brother. 'Alas!' He cried, 'I failed even to be like this raven to find some way to dispose of the dead body of my brother!' So he became full of regrets. Quran 5: 27-32
THIS sermon is written today, ironically, for the wrong audience. It is addressed purposely to the bellicose and belligerent elements among my compatriots who have emptied themselves of all virtuous attributes and have rejoiced in their followership of Shaytan. It is equally targeted at the government and its agencies both of which luxuriate in corruption and non-performance while the Nigerian state continues its descent into the abyss of anomie and failure.
I am humbled by the fact that neither the violent elements in our polity nor government officials would read this piece. They would not read this because they, simply put, cannot read. Reading involves the exertion of a conscious and productive intellect. The gumption of some of those masquerading as leaders in Nigeria today is not, using Tayyeb Salih's analogy, bigger than the head of their phallus. Even though they have spent our money visiting 'wonderland' they have been unable to replicate the wonder they saw in 'wonderland' in their various portfolios because they are not intellectually challenged.
Thus you are reading this sermon today the same way you read about the oddity and violence, which engulfed Jos and Maiduguri last week. You are probably not aware of another tragedy, which played itself out on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that same day, or the lives that were lost on the abandoned Lagos-Ore-Benin Expressway All these events, and others, point to one direction, and one direction only- the continued failure of governance in the country and the necessity and urgency for Nigerians to take their destinies in their hands by electing credible individuals as leaders.
But let us first attempt to derive meaning from the verses of the Qur'an quoted above. Allah enjoins Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace and blessings of Allah) to rehearse unto humanity, notwithstanding the contrarieties in their race, colour, gender or status, the story of the sons of Prophet Adam. All monotheistic religions are agreed that the sons referenced here are Abil and Qabil. Both offered sacrifice to Allah.
The offering was accepted from Abil because it was done in truth and sincerity. It comprised of the best he could afford. The offering put forward by Qabil was rejected because it lacked sincerity and consisted of the worst things he had no need of. Seeing this, he went on to kill his brother and thereby committed the first series of sins on earth: hatred/envy and murder.
However, the story does not end here. Qabil did not know what to do with the corpse of his brother.
Theologians and Muslim historians suggest that he had to carry his brother's corpse on his head for years until Allah sent two birds to him. One of them killed the other, dug the earth up and buried it there. Qabil eventually buried his brother having being taught some practical lessons by the birds!
Allah tells this story to teach a universal lesson: human souls, be it that of atheist, Christian, or Muslim is sacrosanct; that to kill a soul unjustly is to commit a sin which is equivalent to killing the whole of humanity; to give life to a soul, be it that of atheist, Christian, or Muslim is to position oneself for a reward the equivalent of which, in the sight of Allah, is that of giving life to the whole of humanity (Quran 5: 32).
Brethren, we condemn, in unmitigated terms, the bomb detonated last week in Jos, which led to the death of innocent Nigerians. We deplore the act because it is un-Islamic, orgish, fiendish and inhuman. We commiserate with the families of those who died in the atrocity. Once again we are saying that even though Animists, Christians, Muslims and others have become victims, witnesses and perpetrators of these seasons of anomie, Jos is, however, the greatest victim. We are saying the Nigerian government is the worst perpetrator.
The re-occurrence of these violence shows that the Nigerian polity is ill: that there are elements within Jos which are profiting from visiting tragedy on the majority; that some elements within Jos still nurture deep grievances against their neighbour or the state, the resolution of which is key for Jos to smile again; that the Nigerian state is held hostage by groups of individuals who should otherwise not be given authority over their father's homestead.
In other words, while Jos was imploding, Ibadan hosted the driver of a trailer, which was carrying a big container. He eventually lost control of the truck when it entered a big pothole at the Iwo Road intersection.
The container unhinged itself from the back of the truck and landed on a commuter bus thereby sending its three occupants to the great beyond. What killed those innocent citizens of Oyo State? Bad roads? Nay! Reckless driving? Nay. Bad governance? Yes!
Roads do not kill by themselves, it is cobblers-turn-road contractors who kill. It is our engineers who return certificate of completion on badly constructed roads who kill. It is our government and its agencies particularly FERMA which kill through its criminal negligence.
One wonders how many more innocent souls shall be lost on our roads every year before we can have responsive and responsible governance. One keeps wondering when shall the Bi-Courtney settle down to real business, move from window-dressing and confront the tragedy, which the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has become.
My compatriots who use the Lagos-Ore-Benin Expressway appear to have lost all hope in the possibility of the road seeing some governmental attention. This is because, since 1999, almost all Ministers of Works appointed by the PDP government have paid working visits (visits for which they receive touring allowance) to the road but none has been honourable and compassionate enough to repair the road. Deaths on these roads, therefore, are extensions of the inter-communal crisis being witnessed in some parts of the country.
Put differently, those bombs were detonated in Jos because government made it possible through its ineptitude, visionless governance and corruption. Equally, it is not the roads that are actually killing Nigerians. Rather, it is the Nigerian government that is killing its citizens.