Peace in Nigeria: The Road not Taken
Peace is not a concept that only needs to be understood or perceived from its lateral or dictionary definition because its meaning is self definitive as it transcends sociological, political, moral and spiritual phenomenon. As believers in religion and therefore very faithful to our religious beliefs, we are a fortiori obliged to see peace and its essentiality from the historical efforts and concerns of the devout leaders of humanity in praying for it and preaching it to subsequent generation s of human beings up to our today’s world which is even more callous than the first Jahiliyya (period of darkness) generation.
When Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) may peace and blessing of Allah be upon Him, accomplished the building of the holy Ka’aba (House of Allah) in Makkah, His first prayer was that of Peace to reign on the house and the city of Makkah so that it is spiritually immunized and therefore free from all evils, conflicts and wars. Certainly, this prayer was granted. His next prayer was that of abundance of food to the Makkah city. Despite the physiological indispensability of food, He prayed for peace first because without it, food cannot be cultivated let alone be consumed! This is signifies the paramount nature of peace to the accomplishment of every facet life of any living being. In our context today, peace is being churlishly relegated through various machinations within and outside our country, Nigeria.
The British Christian colonizers had apparently succeeded in entrenching a very bad and humiliating hatred among the believers of Islam and Christianity in Nigeria thereby dislodging them from their ability to understand one another to live in harmony and use peace as the bedrock of establishing prestigious socio-political and moral institutions, which are the guiding beacons of the Nigerian society. This unfortunate state of affairs is having political, security, social and moral consequences especially on the Muslim Ummah and a devastating effect on Islam in general. It is to be acknowledged that in the face of these ever-present and formidable challenges of existence, the survival and progress of all human societies become a function of many variables, such as technological breakthrough, long-term planning vision, positive thinking and industrousness. To a great extent, peace and tranquility make these variables that shape and define the status of any human society in its internal and external relationships materialise.
The road to Nigeria’s peace is still afar because of the actions and inactions of the present generation of our leadership who consciously or unconsciously fail in realizing that nations generally perceive that human societies are bound together by common destinies and interests only if they are able to retain their dignity and sovereignty at an aggregated level of justice and fair play to both sides of religious beliefs, the absence of which could be seen in terms of great cost expressed in human and material losses.
Easy reference could be made to the virtual collapse of our security system which is rendering the Nigerian society peace less and gradually paving way for anarchy and confusion escalating by the day. According to revelations of recent history, some militant outfits that were an offshoot of religious and political sectionalism unleashed terror in a daylight breach of security in the Niger Delta. For many months, this notorious outfit had a field day showing defiant attitude to the government which was condoned and even rewarded with amnesty! They are “fortunate” to have come from the ‘richest’ side of our country and were therefore seen as men with the silver spoon to agitate for ‘resource control’. This same group, were also the self-acclaimed emancipators of the Niger Delta region a.k.a MEND who instead of ‘mending’ were in very fact further sowing the seed of security collapse and breaking all the fabrics of peace. To demonstrate their sincerity, they claimed responsibility of planting and detonation of bomb on the 2011 national day (1st October), a day we are supposed to show utmost patriotism, at the Eagle square in the heart of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja!
The road to Nigeria’s peace is not taken if our democratically elected President, who is for all of us, could palpably absolve this group who are his kith and kin from this dastardly act even though they unrepentantly insisted that they were responsible! Paradoxically, Nigeria with all its divisive tendencies and negative forces, maintains a fragile unity in religious diversity against all odds.
Islam and the Muslims are not and never will they be advocates of violence in whatever form for whatever reason. In fact, the religion of Islam and the Muslims has been noted for stoic life and an enduring sacrifice to the survival of Nigeria as one country. It seems fallacious when we unreservedly, allege that a faceless group akin to MEND christened “Boko Haram” is a Muslim terror group that plant bombs and kill people. It is true that a group of young Muslims who called themselves by the name boko haram were dealt with for transgression in the northern part of the country, but it remains doubtful if the spate of bombings that followed their extermination is a handiwork of true Muslims, given the sophistication, frequency and timing of the bomb blasts. These socially and security wise negative trends combined on the personalities of the Muslims and Islam have made them to look miserable, resented, vilipend, unmotivated and unmotivating, unhappy and angered.
The road to peace is not taken if our President quickly and unreservedly believes and blames the fabricated boko haram (being aligned to the Muslims and Islam) for the Christmas day bombing of a church and some other places in the north, order the security chiefs to do ‘everything possible’ to arrest the sponsors of the blasts (purportedly Muslims) and even declare a state of emergency in some 15 or so local governments in the north when nothing of this sort was contemplated during the MEND attacks in the Niger Delta and the Eagle Square. This road to peace is also missed if our President could deem it fit to visit and visibly consol the victims of the church blast at Madalla, when mum was the word for the hundreds of Muslims slaughtered on 2011/1432 Sallah Eid-el-Kabir day at Jos, dozens killed at Borno, hundreds killed in bomb shelling at Damaturu and dozens of the Muslims brutally killed during the post-election violence at Kaduna state.
An analogy of MEND and boko haram miserably suggests that while the former is known as Mr. President’s kith and kin, they are visible daring and defiant, the latter is yet to be identified in form or substance but are presumed to be Muslims. The blasts credited to them and their religious dispositions are yet to be convincingly proved beyond any doubt. For this reason, the unhesitant response to the “boko haram” notoriety because they are presumably Muslims, can only be seen as either a deliberate attempt to give Islam a and the Muslims a bad name so as to hang them or a conspiracy between the southern Christians and the western countries to make true the American ‘forecast’ that Nigeria may disintegrate by 2014. The Americans should concern themselves more with the Nostradamus’s prophecy about their collapse rather than aiding destabilization of our country.
On the final note, I want to assure Mr. President and all those who misconstrue Islam as a terror religion and Muslims as terrorists that their thought is far from being right. The bridge to an everlasting peace is to simply accord the Muslims the respect they are entitled to by all forms of human and spiritual laws. Show of military might and wrath on the poor, armless and defend less Muslim Population in the search for an invisible enemy can hardly reveal the faces of the perpetrators of these inhuman and Islamically uncondonable acts.