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.

image

Yushau Shuaib  is a public relations consultant based in
Abuja. He can be reached via email at yashuaib@yahoo.com  

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