JOS: A SHOW OF LEADERSHIP INEPTITUDE
It is looking now like very long ago, when if you tune your Radio, one of the presenter's delight was FIRE in SOWETO by our dear late music maestro Ozzidi king Sonny Okosun. Then, fire was really in SOWETO and trust Nigerians, was usually cry more than the bereaved, hence then, writers, singers and story tellers gave graphic description of the situation in that black South African township, gory as it then was. Today same South Africa has metamorphosed to producing Sun City . Is some one saying that is the biggest entertainment city in Africa ? Ok!
In Nigeria , we once had a city called Tin City . The city in Nigeria where intending visitors to Europe was usually advised to take a tour of, so as to have a fill of the climate over there. That city is JOS! Jos was a city known for peace, with beautiful agricultural land producing varieties of Potatoes and all Salad varieties. No wonder other than Lagos, the city boast of higher population of whites, a city where the Religious Muslims and Christians once struck a balance, a city that played host and still host greater number of Northern retired generals the likes of Generals Domkat Bali, Jerry Useni, Jonan jang the current Governor of the State and a host of others. Jos had everything good going for it until mid 90s when the bubble bust. Yes, Jos is the city today that has defiled peace, the center of Islamic religious war and with her un-identical twin brother Bauchi, the home of BOKO HARAM!
Writing about Jos, Bauchi, Maiduguri , Kano , Kaduna , Sokoto etc in the annals of religious crisis opens one up to the reality that this nation either does not believe in her people or have no real value for them. Since the 80's, various Islamic sects have come up laying claims to ownership of Nigeria . They have also maintained that only that religion should be practiced here. First it started with the Maitatsini in Maiduguri during the failed rule of the just disgraced (from the Northern concesus candidate saga of Mallam Adamu Ciroma) General IBB, who wanted the country to be in the league of OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) by all means. With his governments backing of the crisis and giving material and financial support from the back door, it was easy for the war to take root in most northern town, all of which have developed to become arc enemies of southerners now, as a typical southerner resident in any city in the north is a matter of necessity. Hence today, in Kano , Kaduna , Bauchi etc, the cities are divided according to their religious beliefs. This writer know of a truth, that, since the double barrel Sharia crisis in Kaduna, a Christian living in Tundu Wada, Rigasa Kawo, and Badarawa areas of the Kaduna north are but walking corpses. They are just waiting for their death which is certain to come just in the next crisis. Not so for most Muslims in the Television, Barnawa, Sabo etc in Kaduna south, because Christians apply restrain in matters of life and death. Yet the governments at both state and federal level have remained watching.
The right question to ask now is whether the indiscriminate killing in the north in the name of Islam is the unanimous view of all Moslem clerics in the north or Nigeria ? The loud answer is NO. So why are the killings going unabated? Who are those faceless individuals who have sworn to be holier that the Pope? Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious and multi-lingual nation and everyone have the choice to serve God any which way they choose. This is the same in most nations of the world including Islamic nations. Nigeria cannot claim to be more Islamic that Mali , Egypt , Libya , Morocco or their home country Saudi Arabia put together. Why have we refused to apply reasoning to these unending killings? Certainly, the promoters are benefiting from these acts, and so because the governments have refused to bring to book all the known evil men. Time was, when almost everyone would not even as much as dare to point accusing fingers at anyone. It is not so today. Back and forth, names have been mentioned and governors have acknowledged that they know the perpetrators of these crimes yet they give them names for it to have beautiful colouration. When we got tired of it being called Religious Crisis, it became political killing. So, if we are tired as a nation of being one united Nigeria why not let us divide and go our separate ways? Yet some others would attempt to present the fact that a promoter of this view does not like the country. Who said? I like Nigeria more than any country of the world and will never in this present life exchange this my domiciliary of origin for any other. I know that this is the position of some persons who, like yours sincerely have opportunities to live elsewhere, but prefer the suffering and smiling Nigeria . What is to be asked any sane leader in NIGERIA is at what cost are we prosecuting these killings and why the perpetrator have gone unpunished to date? Is it that the government through its various machines cannot arrest and prosecute any one even those arrested as front burner? Where lies justice if any body in Islamic religious clothing can wake up anytime, train some unschooled followers and arm them with guns and other weapons of mass destruction WMD ala George Bush and distabilise the state and nation for weeks on end. Who has taken note of these loses of human capital? Yet we come out with such false reports as “only 25 persons were killed and 250 individuals injured”. Senator and former governor of Kaduna state can certainly tell who these good for nothing Muslim clerics are. He it was who, after the first and second Sharia under his leadership, studied the scenario and put paid by warning all and sundry to carry their war elsewhere. Since then there has not been any major crisis in that state. That was bold and blunt and to great effect. Why has others failed to emulate him? It is certainly annoying that knowledgeable people like Mallam Muhammed Haruna could forget that religious matters are core issues in the heart of every believer in what ever faith in Nigeria . In his shocking and nauseating writing in The NATION of August 5, 2009, he told his readers that “MEND and OPC have killed far more men in uniform than BOKO HARAM has or is even capable of. Without holding brief for both MEND and OPC then, l told him that l know of a truth that Northern Muslims have killed far more innocent souls than any war in the West African sub region put toghter. The records are there and none is blind to the facts and figures as published by independent sources on the internet and other sources. With whose resources are these wonton destructions settled if not the Oil from the Niger Delta? Are we therefore encouraging these internal wars because we have an inept government which can in a jiffy send National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) a body set up largely to defraud the populace in the name of quick response to crisis? Have the body come clean in any of its report in response to crisis from inception to date? I can hear someone saying that l am beating discordant tune as this is not the mood of the Nation. But when has Nigeria ever risen to the occasion to answer to the clarion call of her people? When will that ever be? We must do away with all these pretensions. We are one for as long as the cow is available to be milked that is all. The only thing uniting Nigeria other than Oil is Football and that is when we win!
For once, when the Niger Delta logjam began and no body gave it any chance. The likes of Chief Philip Asiodu as Petroleum Adviser to the government at one time liken it to the noise from the extreme south. Late General Sani Abacha saw it developing and did a quick retreat by carving a state out of the then Rivers State and called it BAYELSA. His plans were still in the works when he died. But Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, rather than improve on the Abacha success chose military option and destroyed towns and villages in the region, empowered the military with the money received from the same Oil, set them up by bringing to be the existence Joint Military Task Force (JTF) and scheming the cream of the creeks in killing perceived enemies. All these were in the belief that the federal might would bring to an end to all the failed systems. Yes, it produced some heroes, because today, we have the likes of Ateke Tom, Asari Dorkubo etc walking the street free and even as opinion leaders. Yes they earned it rightly or wrongly. But where are those arrested for religious crisis that drove me out of the Northern city of Kano first then Kaduna ? Where are all the detained apostles of death shown us in both print and electronic media during the first BOKO HARAM crisis in Bauchi? All the previous Religious crisis put together? Are they still in the cells today? Who among them even after confessing to have personally killed, have been prosecuted? How many are in the prison walls now? I mean from the first RELIGIOUS CRISIS to date? Let no one mention the case of General Zamani Lekwot. His, was an isolated case meant to make a statement that he ought to have kept quiet when the establishment was in charge!
I certainly have not had any consultation with anyone on what needs to be done in the polity to bring about peaceful change on this burning issue of religious imbalance but l do know that complacent as we usually are, views are that things are getting better. How long shall we wait without any definite resolve from the center? It is needful to tell our Muslim fanatics that leniency is not laxity and for the government, the silence you see or seem to observe is but that of a volcano. When it erupts as it so often does, like TUSNAMI, only foes will be left. There will be no victors, all will be vanquished. Need we get there before we take action? Who will then?
The BOKO HARAM, Maitatsini or Muslim killings, have proved that until decisive steps are taken and fast too, rather than be on the exit, their activities are being reformed with deliberate sophistication! If we decide to wait and see as we often do, the leadership may wake up one day to find no country ala Hutu and Tutsi experience. Then it will be all to your tents oh Israel ! A word is enough for the wise.
BREAKING NEWS: As l write, it is on the air that violence has broken out in Tafawa Balewa area of Bauchi State . You se what l mean?
Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt .