[OPINION] Will Religion Win the War in the North?

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By: Mojoyinola Abd’Afeez

Up north, thousands bathe in the whirlpool of blood everyday. Their faces are powdered with gunpowder. The rat-a-tat-tat of gunshot rattles through their tattered clothes. Those who attempt to flee are ambushed. Daggers are thrust on their throats like butchers slaughter aggressive cows. With belongings worth millions of naira, many houses are set ablaze and many are physically and mentally handicapped. Bomb translates the language of running to their ears. They run but, alas, get trapped in the hands of another death.

Nowhere is safe except Government house where thousands of the security forces have surrounded. The villagers sing the song of sorrow and they breed hatred for the government. It was first the Bokoharam; then herdsmen; then bandits. Like chameleon, the terrorists keep changing names but their actions. They have pledged for death, so, they run into it with boldness and fierceness. Our security forces are not secure not to talk of them securing the lives of citizens but, they keep faith of bringing peace to the region. The terrorists have built hell on the earth of the nothern region. Borno, Adamawa, Zamfara, Taraba, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina and Benue have become temples for devils where citizens worship roasted and slain bodies. Is the government still passionate about fighting the insurgencies?

The answer to that lies in the statement of President Muhammadu Buhari when, on his arrival from his 10-day visit to London, he was asked if, amidst the killings and kidnappings going on in his country, the people should expect a new approach, and he answered: “No. I’ve just seen the IG, I think he’s losing weight. I think he’s working very hard. ” Judging from that unsympathetic statement made by the President, it is truism that the government has succumbed to terrorism. Just in a week before Mr President made that statement, 41 people were reported dead in Zamfara alone. On April 20, fifteen people were killed and hundred houses were burnt in Adamawa in the suspected herdsmen attack (according to Sahara Reporter) . Also, two months ago, sixteen people were killed by the suspected herdsmen in Benue (according to ThisDay). Last year alone, Global Terrorism Index estimated that about 1,700 people were killed by the herdsmen from January to September.

However, as many continue to die every day in the hands of terrorism, the government seems not to have a different approach in combatting the menace (judging by Mr President’s statement). For how is losing weight tantamount to hardwork?

Sometimes, it is better one keeps silent on an issue one is not clear about rather than add fuel to it. After all, silence is golden. Mr President is known for speaking out of context when asked questions by journalists. Perhaps the reason some doubt his competency. If Mr President could not address an issue bothering on his citizens’ death with remorse, how sure are we that he is passionate to end the war in his region?

Similarly, just few days ago, the Imam of Aso Rock said the killings are tests from God. This is the problem we have in Nigeria: everything affecting us in the country is seen with the lens of religion from economy to politics; technology to social. We tend to neglect our roles in ensuring good leadership. That is why a very agile guy will spend his days in Church or Mosque praying for wealth without him working. This is what has led some people to believe that they can not be rich except they kill their fellow humans for rituals. We are so entrenched in spirituality that we neglect reality. And like Senator Sheu Sanni has said, it is the way of our clergies to reshape the gospel to comfort and exculpate power; they preach to the poor with flames and preach to the powerful with flowers. Perhaps, had it been it was the poor that the Imam was preaching to, he would have quoted Surah Al-Najm where Allah says “Man will not get anything unless he works” . This is hypocrisy of some of our religious leaders!

Perhaps, the Imam forgot the low level of education in the North and how many of their leaders have ensured their followers remain in perpetual darkness. They prefer giving them alms rather than education. They build mosques for them so that, instead of them asking help from them (the government), they turn to God: one of the instruments used by the capitalists in ensuring they remain in power. It was for this that Governor Abdulazees Yari of Zamfara in 2017 reacted to the outbreak of Cerebrospinal Meningitis in his state by saying, “There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured”. He, like the Imam, believes “sin” is what causes our problems. They believe our problems are tests from God. As a matter of fact, how does one expect the citizens to react in this kind of condition when about 28 candidates from Zamfara sat for the 2018 National Common Entrance Examination into the 104 federal government colleges in the country? How does one expect his people to react when about 300 public primary schools are manned by one teacher? How does one expect them to react when many of his followers are in perpetual darkness? Will those without education be able to demand for their rights?

But the poor and the illiterates have been liberated in another way round. They have changed their bowls to guns. They are tired of asking alms, so they ask for arms. They are tired of praying for their leaders, so they prey on them. They don’t spare the innocent. They kill for a living. They kidnap whomever they see, for they want bloody money.

However, other regions should not fold their arms, thinking it is the problem of the North. The war is spreading like wildfire. Soon, it will reach us if the government doesn’t take necessary actions. The rise of kidnapping here is an omen. The looming revolution is inevitable. It started with bandits, kidnappings and Bokoharam. I pray our leaders combat the insurgencies before they engulf the whole country.

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