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North to blame if Nigeria capsizes

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CONFLICTS have been propounded by experts as huge barrier to societal growth. Nigeria’s society has suffered a great deal of afflictions due to one crisis or the other. Consequently, national development suffers retardation in the aftermath.

  Political conflicts, economic crises, social disharmony, tribal tensions and many strong strings of plagues have challenged Nigeria overtime but religious strife seems a virus bent on deciding her final fate. This can be deduced from the crosscurrents religious related issues spark in our social space at least expected moments in the people’s live.

  Latest in series of crises plaguing the country is penchant for bloodletting; veiled in religious extremism. This recently resulted in the slaughtering of a Christian girl, identified as Deborah Emmanuel in Sokoto State by religious bigots, for reasons of alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. The 200-level pupil of Shehu Shagari College of Education was until her unfortunate death, a Nigerian, with propensity and dreams.

  The question that engages the mind is where Nigeria is headed at the current development.  No doubt the issue of religious crisis cuts across regions, and societies all over the world, but Nigeria’s feature poses strange peculiarity.

  In 2005, a Prophet Muhammad cartoon made by a Danish, Kurt Westergard, in far away Netherlands,  sparked religious crisis in Nigeria, leading to killings of innocent citizens. In 2007, a Swedish artist, Lars Vilks’ cartoon of Prophet Muhammad caused crisis in Nigeria, leading to burning of property belonging to Igbo in the north. The origin of the picture was in Europe, yet, strong basis for Nigeria to be engulfed in inter-religious feud to the level of killing compatriots.

  On July 9, 2016, Evangelist Eunice Elisha was killed for preaching Christ in Kubwa, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in flagrant disregard to freedom of worship as enshrined in Section 38 (1) of Nigerian Constitution. Unfortunately, no report was made public about arrest of perpetrators of the crime to deter re-occurrence. The same year, Bridget Agbahime was beheaded in Kano for alleged blasphemy, the public was not told of anybody held for questioning, let alone being punished.

  One may ask, are the champions of this unholy drama unknown? The fact that Islamic youths of the north did not shy from taking responsibility of killing and burning the body of Deborah provides nay answer to the poser. However, beyond the horrific acts of these elements, calls for investigation into spurs their brazen display. Who sponsors their actions and who mentors their mindsets? Suffice it to say that the northern Muslim elites have not done enough to see Nigeria grow beyond mundane fanaticism. The northern Muslim youths need alternate orientation, but the elites look the other way. Shockingly, in a country where constitution is primed above all rules, murderers get away with the act, while leaders come out to defend the indefensible.  Can cruelty and murder be justified? If the Islamic religion practiced in the south is the same Islam of the north, why would anybody kill and get away with it? The northern Christians have shown high level of tolerance, peace and love, hence, their being at the receiving end of religious intolerance whenever such unsavoury incident happens. They should be commended for their peaceful approach, but not without admonition to northern elite to advice their subjects in conducting themselves properly for mutual peace in the society.

  Kaduna State Governor, Malam el-Rufai insulted Christ in his false accusation of Christians for being behind Boko-Haram, knowing well such claims to be untrue. Yet, Christians did not set the Kaduna governor ablaze.

  A Catholic priest in Kaduna State, Rev. Fr Joseph Bako was murdered by terrorists on Thursday, May 12, 2022, after weeks of abduction by group allegedly connected with Islamic sect, Catholics did not take up arms to hack-down members of the religious group from where these elements claim to originate.

  Arguably, when the video footages of the slaughtering of young Deborah emerged in the social media platforms, those who had followed events in Nigeria knew it was just another tragic display of idiotic tendency in the garb of religion and faith by the Muslim extremists. What a shame for a country in the 21st Century? The champions of this shameful act are yet to tell Nigerians what constitutes greater evil than spilling the blood of fellow countrymen.  But they hide under the veil of religion and faith to cover their wickedness.

  Renowned medical doctor and retired military officer, Ahmed Gumi, while condemning the incident, said: “The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (SAW) was at several points during his lifetime insulted by non-muslims, yet, he refused to attack or even kill persons who assassinated his characters. If we think by killing Deborah, people who are not of the same faith with us will stop insulting our prophet, then, we are in delusion.” The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubarkar has spoken against killings in different fora. This is commendable but the north has shown that they lack much people in the mould of Gumi and Sa’ad Abubarkar at present, who can stand up and speak truth to conscience when it matters most.

  It is ironical that the mantra, ‘one Nigeria’ keeps reverberating from the north, but their actions say the opposite. With Deborah dying a martyr, let the ashes of her charred remains turn a springboard for a new Nigeria guided by conscience, truth and justice. The constitutional amendment searchlight should not be aglow only on electoral reforms, but also on citizens’ protection from brutality, oppression and injustice.

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