Reading Time: 5 mins read
Many analysts still argue about the best nomenclature for the political clerics. Are they politicians hiding under religion or clerics in politics? Whatever be the case, governments have habitually avoided any confrontation with them. And the clerics in question seem to interpret this to mean that they are untouchable and above the law.
During the Buhari days, Sheik Abubakar Gumi announced himself as the authentic go-between regarding any negotiation with bandits and terrorists in Nigeria. Government played down the issue, although many people thought the sheik was overreaching in posturing as an alternative power centre.
One thing that is clear is that Gumi has his acolytes who jump on his train whenever he makes an intervention in public, no matter how controversial. I am the first person to acknowledge the man’s right to freely express his opinion. However, I do not think he or anyone else hiding under religion has a right to incite adherents of one religion against another as he routinely does.
Anyone who has closely followed political developments in Nigeria knows that ethno-religious baiting is big business, especially in the run-up to elections. Usually, the hot air dissipates as soon as a new government is formed. Not this time!
The other day, Sheik Gumi voiced his displeasure over, among other things, the appointment of a Christian as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, and another Christian as the Chief of Defence Staff. He thought the positions should have gone to Muslims because, according to him, Muslims can be trusted to be just and fair in such positions when compared to Christians. Gumi, a medical doctor and soldier before becoming a full time cleric, ought to know the meaning and implication of a fallacy of hasty generalisation (secundum quid et simpliciter). But does he?
To add more fuel to the fire, he exhumes the ghost of the assassination of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the premier of the Northern Region in the first republic and that of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who met the same fate, as proof that political and military power should never be ceded by the Northern Muslim to the Southern Christian, except with some extraordinary reassurances and cession of identified important portfolios to the North. His definition of north is, of course, Muslim.
Religion is a very feisty issue in Nigeria and there are people who make a living from either starting a political fire or quenching it. Both ways, there is money or political mileage to be made. Unfortunately for the country, this trend has dealt a serious blow to social cohesion over the years.
Gumi and his soulmates do not believe in a secular Nigeria. They only stopped short of calling for a coup. They state quite clearly that the duo of President Tinubu and VP Shettima have not properly used their Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket to favour muslims; rather they’ve been appeasing Christians. So, they don’t deserve the backing of muslims. The political clerics flaunt ill-concocted conspiracy theories about a secret alliance with Israeli security forces, tapping into the ongoing Israel/Gaza conflict with the hope of setting Nigerian Muslims against everybody else.
As instigations go, it will take some doing to beat Gumi in his game: The taste of his waspish sermon is in the reading:
“The FCT minister (Nyesom Wike) is a EXPLETIVE (edited out). I’ve said so ever since he was appointed. I cannot independently verify, but someone said he was quoted as saying he had already engaged Israeli security, but I can confirm that he said he would invite the Israeli Ambassador to help redesign the security architecture of Abuja to pattern after that of Tel Aviv so that bearded people like us would be hounded and killed on sight because we’ve been stereotyped as Bin Laden.
“Now where are the proponents of the Muslim-Muslim ticket? You guys are hypocrites! Abuja has become a Tel Aviv because the security of a country is the people. Why are you silent? It is because you know what you’re up to.
“Granted, heads of security services are fellow Muslims, but the reality is that those wielding actual commanding power are different. They’re fooling us because they have an agenda, yes there’s an agenda. They’re fooling us, I assure you.
“Look how they took over all the juicy and lucrative positions in the country. And they believe they’ll continue to govern us in the next four years and beyond. They think through their tricks they’ll get re-elected for another four-year term to make eight years in power. But that will not happen while we’re here by the will of God.
“During the (Muhammadu) Buhari presidency, a certain Christian cleric complained that Muslim officers were appointed heads of security organisations. My response was that Muslims would not use that as an advantage to maltreat anyone whether they’re Muslims or non-Muslims. In contrast, if they (Christians) are occupying those positions, they’ll destroy us.
“Check the history, who murdered Sardauna (Sir Ahmadu Bello)? It was Nzeogwu. Who murdered Murtala (Muhammed)? It was (Lt. Col. Buka) Dimka. As for (Ibrahim) Babangida, he narrowly escaped death; who was his aggressor? (Gideon) Orkar, a northern Christian. You see, once you give these people power, they’ll use it to destroy you.
“Therefore, make no mistake, once the Israelis are allowed into this country, they’ll carry out clandestine operations; the elimination of prominent Muslim clerics. Why do you think they eliminated Sheikh Jafar (Mahmood Adam)? Why was (Sheikh Muhamman Auwal) Albani murdered? The list of those to be eliminated is endless…
“You want to bring the Mossad into our country? Let Tinubu be told that we’re not oblivious of the plan; we’re aware. He must remove the FCT minister or else he will have us to contend with.
Sometime back during the Jonathan era, I was invited to the DSS headquarters for a meeting; I met an officer who afterwards called to inform me that a hit squad, driving a certain Mercedes Benz 4matic model, was detailed to attack me…
“…Yet they kept blabbing about Buhari’s so-called nepotism. There was an element of nepotism under Buhari, I reckon. But our (Muslim) nepotism is not evil (wicked) because it does no harm to anyone. If it cannot promote your interest, it won’t harm it either; here is the difference. That’s why I keep warning that power should not slip from our hands into theirs.”
Time To Draw the Line
When there is a fire, you call in the fire brigade. Political fires require a different solution. But rather than sweep matters under the carpet and allow the continued spread of hate, the relevant security agencies should draw the line and call Sheik Gumi and all other clerics, Muslim, Christian, or of any other faith, identified as perpetrating political arson, to cease fire. We are better as a conglomeration of different progressive peoples than as atavistic religious bigots baying for blood.
Wole Olaoye is a Public Relations consultant and veteran journalist. He can be reached on email@example.com, Twitter: @wole_olaoye; Instagram: woleola2021.
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