Boko Haram, Muslims and Northerners
By Yushau Shuaib
After the Chief Imam ended the prayer in the mosque, his deputy collected the microphone and delivered strong worded condemnation on insurgents for the killing of innocent people in the name of Islam. The deputy ended by saying “terrorists will roast in hell-fire!”
Surprisingly, the Chief Imam retrieved the microphone from his deputy and declared to the bewildered congregation: “Salam Alaikum. I am the Chief Imam of the mosque. The man who just condemned Boko Haram ‘citizens’ is the deputy Imam and his house is the one painted in white and blue behind the Emir’s palace by the right-hand corner…”
Sometimes the silence of Northerners and Muslims over monumental atrocities being committed in some parts of the North, is being viewed either as a sign of complicity or endorsement of atrocities being perpetrated by insurgents. The reality however, is that most of the victims of the attacks are actually Northerners and many are even notable traditional rulers and Islamic clerics who dared to condemn such activities just like the killing of Emir of Gwoza.
On the contrary, challenges against complacency should rather be directed at the political class who have the resources and network to address the insecurity even during its infancy. It became clearly evident that there was trouble earlier on when there was proliferation of some groups that are now challenging our corporate existence.
In a widely publicised article penned by this writer in March 2006 during President Obasanjo’s era titled “Killing in the Name of the Devil” which coincidentally was in response to an ethno-religious crisis in Maiduguri, Borno State following a controversial Danish cartoon, I pointed out that: “Probably out of fear and to sustain loyalty of followers, some leaders adopt subtle approach to comment on the mayhem instead of condemning it in the strongest possible terms. The holy scriptures have several verses that denounce those horrendous anomalies. Even our cherished cultures are rich in expressions that could be deployed at this moment of tribulation and vengeance.”
Few years later, precisely in June 2011, in an article entitled “Asari Dokubo: Another View on Boko Haram”, this writer joined the maverick Niger Delta militant, in total condemnation of the extra-judicial killing of Mohammed Yusuf, his father-in-law and a former commissioner for Water Resources in Borno, Buji Fai who were murdered in cold-blood while in police custody.
There is no doubt that leaders from the North have failed to tame excesses and recklessness of religious bigots and extremists, which have led to insecurity in the region. Rather than wake up from their slumbers and tackle the poverty, ignorance and insecurity in the region, some Northern political class and elites, deliberately cover their failures by spinning conspiracy theory that some groups and individual outside of the region are instigating the atrocities. It will be difficult for an outsider to manipulate a household whose members are disciplined and in the right frame of mind.
There are various conspiracy theories being parroted about the crises being engineered by outsiders against the North and Northerners. This is a cheap argument that someone will use northerners to fight northerners in the North where ringleaders and arrested suspects are mostly Northerners without a trace of the so-called outsiders or Southern collaborators. It is also doubtful if top Northern security officers at the national level and commanders on the battlefields will be willing tools in the plan to destroy their own region. Could the so-called Northern conspirators intend to relocate to the South after the total destruction of the North? Some conspiracy theories don’t just make sense.
As Northerners we should be wary of those playing politics with the life of our people and face the real challenges of good governance. We should realise that only very few states in Nigeria can survive without revenue from the Federal Government in the name of the Federation Account. We should question our leaders about what they have done with all the resources which are meant to address the stark backwardness of the Northern region. We should also urge them that rather than merely expecting monthly revenue from Cheap oil Money, they should diversify and invest in the productive sector that could improve the economic bases of their respective states and make our people self-reliant and independent from revenue from the central government.
Our leaders should also stop flaunting ill-gotten wealth through accumulations of mansions and ostentatious marriage ceremonies to the envy of the uneducated and poor in the society which to some extent also provoke militancy.
We should deemphasise debate on imaginary conspiracy theories by being constructive in our engagements as well as work on practical actions to tame widespread insecurity presently threatening to completely destroy our region. Our leaders should not exhibit traits that portray them as overly ambitious and selfish. We can’t continue to remain silent when this crisis is razing and may consume everyone.
As a Muslim, I believe Islamic leaders need to do more to promote and protect the faith from activities of some followers that give a contrary image to the Religion of Peace. Common sense dictates that Daawah or preaching for good conduct and morality should start within by advocating religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence so that our great nation will not disintegrate by 2015.
Yushau A. Shuaib