In the Name of Allah, The Gracious, Every Merciful
AHMADIYYA MUSLIM JAMA’AT NIGERIA
WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE STATE OF THE NATION
Dr. Mashhud Adenrele Fashola
Amir (Head) Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Nigeria
May 13, 2014
There are burning issues in Nigeria that are so serious that everyone should show concern over them. As a religious and humanitarian organization, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is highly concerned about those burning issues because they threaten the wellbeing, life and property of every citizen, and the continued survival of the nation. The issues we wish to address specifically are:
The on-going national conference;
The national security challenges and the Boko Haram insurgency; and
The state of the national economy and its prospects.
THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE
As part of the centenary celebration of the existence of Nigeria, a national conference has been organized to discuss the problems confronting the existence of Nigeria as a nation and the way forward.
It is our humble view that the conference should not be pre-occupied with our tribal, religious, and geo-political differences, or deliberate on how we can restructure Nigeria along tribal, religious, and geo-political lines. We are of the view that our problems are not tribal, religious, or geo-political. It has to do with ignorant, narrow-minded, evil and self-centered people and leaders who exploit the tribal, religious, and geo-political differences of the nation for selfish and materialistic interests.
Our problems have always been evil people from all tribes, all religions, and geo-political regions who come together to perpetrate corrupt and incompetent governance and selfish exploitation of the nation. They have been responsible for killings of innumerable political opponents, unbridled corruption, and mismanagement of the economy. Those who were guilty of killings, corruption, and continual mismanagement of the economy include all the tribes, the people of all the religions, and geo-political regions. Evil is not restricted to any tribe, religion, or geo-political region while virtue is also not the monopoly of any tribe or religion. We have had and still have great and patriotic men and women among Christians, Muslims, and traditional religious groups, as well as among all tribes whether Hausas, Igbos, Yoruba, and any other ethnic group.
So what the national conference needs to deliberate upon are:
How can we ensure religious and ethnic tolerance and peaceful coexistence?
How can we ensure security of life, property, and livelihood of every citizen whatever his or her religion, tribe, and socio-economic class, and whether he or she belongs to a minority or a majority group?
How can we ensure social justice, and equitable and sustainable socio-economic development at all regional levels and for all citizens?
How can we ensure true and sustainable democratic governance and functional democratic institutions, accountability and transparency, and do away with rigging of elections and political assassinations?
What are the political structures and arrangements that will ensure all the above? In particular, is partisan political system capable of delivering true democracy?
We do not believe that breaking up of the country will solve the problems because evil leadership and corrupt governance may be perpetrated at any geo-political level, whether small or big, whether or not it is a homogeneous tribal or religious group. At any rate, in modern times, it is not possible to separate religious, ethnic, or racial groups. The world has become a global village. Anywhere you go, you will find people of all races, religions, and tribes. So our discussion should not be pre-occupied with these differences, rather it should be pre-occupied at stemming evil and injustice.
THE NATIONAL SECURITY CHALLENGES AND BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY
With respect to national security challenges and Boko Haram insurgency, there is a connection. The problem of Boko Haram insurgency is partly but not wholly a national security challenge. But first, let us look at the national security challenges. Presently the national security forces, especially the Police and SSS, are grossly inadequate and incapable of ensuring security to life and property. This is because the number of security officers is extremely small relative to the population and geographical size of Nigeria. So there is need to recruit a lot more men and women for the police and the SSS. Secondly, the equipment and logistics are also extremely inadequate. In particular, there is need to beef up substantially the appropriate equipment and gadgets as well as training in respect of information and communication technology. It should be possible for police officers to monitor everything within the jurisdiction of a police station or zone. There should be adequate logistics to patrol and carry out physical surveillance of the whole country. Police and SSS officers need have adequate facilities to patrol as pedestrians, cyclists, in motor cars, helicopters, and airplanes.
Another aspect of national security challenges and Boko Haram insurgency is the need for social justice, equitable income distribution, and eradication of poverty. Insurgency, political instability and insecurity thrive largely in countries with immense poverty. Nigeria has about 70% of her people living below poverty line and over 60 million adults that are jobless or having jobs that cannot ensure any meaningful livelihood. So the problem of insecurity and insurgency are closely connected with under-development. The other aspects of poverty are poor education, poor transportation, high disease prevalence and inadequate medical care, and lack of electricity to lighten up the environment and dispel darkness all over the landscapes. So terrorism and insurgency will thrive in an environment of abject poverty, ignorance, darkness and irresponsible leadership at all levels, including political, religious, academic and royal.
We also need to state here that Boko Haram has nothing to do with the true teachings of Islam. Islam strictly upholds freedom of worship for every human being and abhors compulsion in matters of faith, admonishes religious tolerance, charity and help to all needy ones irrespective of race, tribe, or religion, and also upholds the sanctity of life or soul over which none has right, except its Creator. However, indulgence in falsehood and deceit by any group will neither solve the problem nor attract God’s blessings. On our own part in Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, we have for long embarked on prayers and fasting for forgiveness of God and His Mercy to help us destroy all evils and protect the innocent and the repentant. In particular we pray that the abducted girls will be brought back to their parents safe and sound.
THE ECONOMY OF NIGERIA AND ITS PROSPECTS
Nigeria is acclaimed to be the largest economy in Africa. Of what use is such bigness? Has such bigness anything to do with the people’s intelligence, integrity, fairplay, piety, patriotism, dutifulness, and their survival and prosperity? What we need to consider in respect of the economy of Nigeria are: How are the people faring? What is their level of poverty or wellbeing? What is their level of moral discipline, their industriousness, honesty, accountability, and trustworthiness?
Unfortunately, Nigeria is among the worst countries not only in the world, but also in Africa according to UNDP development indicators. In respect of the percentage of the people living below poverty line, Nigeria with 70% living below poverty line (of $1.25 per day) is third worst nation, after Zimbabwe’s 80% and Zambia’s 86%. In respect of child mortality Nigeria with the rate of 186 per thousand is sixth worst in the world after Central African Republic (173), Burkina Faso (189), Mali (194), Democratic Republic of Congo (199) and Angola (220). And in terms of life expectancy Nigeria along with Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo have 48 years, being third worst after Zambia (46) and Zimbabwe (45). So when we speak of the economy, we look at the quality of life and not the big-for- nothing indicator.
In conclusion, our current situation is our own making for which we humbly seek God’s forgiveness, grace, and guidance. We need to promote social justice, eradication of poverty and joblessness, guarantee of security of life and property to every citizen wherever he or she lives or whoever he or she is, and pray for righteous leadership at all levels of government and society.
In the Name of Allah, The Gracious, Every Merciful