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Open letter to Northern Elites: Boko Haram and national ignorance

20 March 2014, 10:11

A seed when it is dropped in the earth crust must of necessity, immediately sprint into activities; it must do so to grow. An eaglet when it is weaned by its mother-bird must as a matter of urgency begin to fly. It must do so stay alive. A light when it is triggered off, must immediately begin to shine, striving earnestly to overcome every form of darkness around, it must do so to retain brightness.

Every purpose driven life must of necessity be able to say, “for this reason I was born”. We cannot experience a national transformation as a people until we ask ourselves this fundamental question of purpose. We cannot enjoy live to the fullest as individuals until this question of purpose becomes the opening chapter of our lives.

In Nigeria, we do not need to look far to see the dangers of not being able to answer the questions of purpose. A nation hanging the economic fate of her citizens on the tiring-rope of petroleum products in a volatile international market, preachers of God’s noble purpose capitalizing on the fall of man to make a living from the pulpit, market men and women trading the destinies of their own children for a day of pod-meal on a political table, religious zealots and their profiteers capitalizing on faith to lead innocent children to act of barbarity and terror that are unthinkable in a civilized society. These are nothing but tragedies of purposes.

Now let us consider first the danger that demands more urgent attention. For now, no issue demands a more thorough and sober discussion than the one presented by Boko Haram. –A group of religious zealots and their profiteers. For at least few reasons, I feel obligated to speak on these controversial bomb-men and the problem of the north. First, the sporadic rate at which these bomb-men blew themselves and other innocent people up, the call for amnesty by Northern elders and the rejection of the proposed amnesty by the sect call for urgent attention and it would be fatal for the nation to ignore the urgency of the moment.

Like a mighty earthquake, Boko Haram has shattered the peace of Northern Nigeria. More than a thousand of people, men and women, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, young and old, Christians and Muslims, students and scholars have lost their precious lives to Boko Haram. However, in the face of religious terrorism, we must not fail to examine honestly the weaknesses of the institutions that produce them. Adjourning that for a latter article, it must be pointed out here that the chief moral guardian of the north must of necessity sit up; they must answer a call to duty. They must teach their communities that being religious and conscientious are not enough, they must be intelligent. They must possess the character of an incisive thinker. –Think and do, not the other way round. At least, every religion places on us the moral demand to be intelligent, even Atheism.

Ignorance is one of the basic causes of terrorism, enlightened men and women always examine fact before reaching conclusions. Religious terrorisms are incubated on the quick sand of fear, suspicion and misunderstanding. In the north, there are those who are ignorant enough to believe that, it is an act of religious duty to kill for God. They are not enlightened enough to understand that God has the greatest tool of death, - Death itself enlisted in his Army. So they robe themselves in the pathetic garment of mortal men wanting to help an immortal God. In all fairness, we must stand with the ‘tough-minds’ –the school of taught that says: these people are not bad people, but blind people. “Most atrocities in our world have been perpetrated not by evil men with bad intentions but by blind people with good intentions”.

History is overloaded with such tragedies; Socrates was forced to drink poison not by evil men but by blind sincere and respectable men of Greece. Steven’s fruitful life was cut short at its prime not by evil men but by respected men and women zealous for God and detailed in the laws of the Jews. Saul was not a bad man when he persecute the Christian, he was a good man blinded by tradition and zeal for God. The churchmen who felt they had an edit from God to resist the progress of science were not mischievous men but misinformed men.

Too many religious scholars in the North did not recognize quickly enough that it is dangerous to use the tragic effect of violence recorded in their scriptures as an argument to perpetuate it. They allowed themselves to be cut in the web of religious paralysis –giving in to a passive commitment of a religious creed and therefore, giving up on all active participation on a lifesaving course. They left the wrinkle stomach of the poor boys on their streets empty, suffering children and orphans –Almajire roam their streets aimlessly, their bridges are a home for the needy, everywhere you go in the north what you see is men and women beaten down by harsh climate of poverty.

Another problem is that too many corrupt politicians in the north who have recognized this disease of religious fanatism that has engulfed their constituencies are happy to perpetuate it in order to continually be in control of the machinery of the state. Our northern elites who send their children to Harvard University, Leads and Glamorgan are the ones popularizing Madrasa. As if that was not enough, with insidious zeal they make inflammatory statements; disseminate distortions and half-truths which arouse abnormal fears in the minds of the community simpleton, living them so confused that they are led to act of barbarism and violence that no normal person commits.

This prevalent tendency toward religious fanatism is found in man’s shameful gullibility. Few of us ever realize that even our most referred vehicles of information –the press and the pulpits do not give us objective and unbiased truth. One of the greatest needs of the north as it stands today is enlightenment. The North is in grave need of men and women who will volunteer their lives to help their neighbors out of the morass and abyss of false teachings. The ultimate measure of man they say is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his life and position for the welfare of others. In a dangerous valley and hazardous pathways we need some patriotic northerners that he will lift some of our bruised and beaten brothers to a higher and nobler life.

Who doubts that enlightenment is one of the greatest needs of the North? Take a time out to walk on the streets of Kano, Borno and Maiduguri. What will you see? A people building castles in the air, they are building big religious centres while many of their own youths are left depressed, others are committing suicide, spreading disease, dying of hunger, wrecking the planet, engaging in terrorism and forming several evil networks. That is the result you get when you build houses-of-stones and refuse to build your own children, the children you refuse to build will eventually sell the mansions you built to strangers for a token. I suppose you know that, you cannot attract what you want; you only attract what you are. I feel strongly in my spirit that the problems we now face are mere shadows of injustices perpetrated against innocent children and poor souls left on those dangerous Jericho roads of life, they have been beaten and breed into hard hearted men ready like their timed-bomb to wreak havoc on the lives we so labour to build.

For long time, those who live in ‘affluent-north’ ignores those who exist in ‘poor-north’; in doing so, the affluent people in the north turned their poor counterparts into individuals who are no longer participating. When an individual is no longer a true participant, when he longer feels a sense of responsibility to his society, the content of democracy that you champion and western education that you possess becomes empty to them. This is the ideology that Boko-Haram (Western Education –a taboo) represents.

When culture is degenerated and vulgarity is enthroned, when honesty is replaced by lies and promises are not always kept, when the governments’ plans to end hunger and deprivation by the year 2000 but many more people are plunged into hunger and deprivation by the year 2010, when social system does not build security but induces peril, inexorable the individual is impelled to pull away from a soulless society. This process is what has produced alienation mindset in Jama'atu Ahlisunnah Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad otherwise called Boko-Haram. The affluent north will eventually have to face one another with the question they always choose to ignore: “How responsible am I to the well-being of my fellows northerners” to ignore evil as a saying has it, is to become an accomplice to it.

Today in the North rarely do you see men who engage in solid thinking like did Sadauna and Aminu Kano. All we see are almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. If not, how can you explain the rationale behind amnesty for Boko-Haram, have they ever asked for it? What Jama'atu Ahlisunnah Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad wants is clearly stated in their slogan turned name, –Boko-Haram. The question we should be asking ourselves is what would make a man wants to tie an explosive to himself and be willing to be blown up with his victims. Only one thing in the whole wide world is capable of producing such level of hypnotic effect on human psychology –religion. When Carl Max said religion is the opium of the poor, he meant much more than just the tranquilizing effect. Religion gives us hope of higher life in the after-life, so it is not uncommon to see misinformed men employing dreary weapon of trickery, deceit, withholding and concealing of truth in self-defeating efforts to achieve God’s noble purpose. They believe the ends will justify the means. Enlightenment men are the only one who can refuse to live by such philosophy of ends justifying means. Destructive means for me can never bring about constructive ends. I cannot kill a pregnant woman, a fatherless child, a bread winner of a family here on earth and believe God in His Majesty will reward me with three virgins in heaven.

No matter how detestable this Boko-Haram people are to us, we still must find a place in our heart to forgive them. A man that is devoid of forgiveness is devoid of love, and love is a command from God. We must not like someone who kill our fathers and murder our mothers and maim our sisters and brothers but we can find in us a capacity to love them. That does not however, imply that we forget of course totally the evil that were done to us. We may not be able to forget such evil easily and quickly enough but we must not allow the tragic effect of such violence perpetrated at us to serve as barriers that will hold us back from reaching out or building bridges with those who committed evil act against us. This is what it means to love ones enemy and pray for those who despitefully use us. Love is the only thing that can cure hatred. Unfortunately, it is still one of the tragedies of human history that the evil we brought in with mere one hand may not be easily pushed out with the whole strength of our ten hands. However, nothing in our half-baked solutions can raise us to new heights of peace and stability, until the root cause of terrorism in the north is found and dealt with in love.

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