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Eid-el-Adha: Muslim clerics decry leaders’ incapacity to tackle insecurity

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Imam Onike


As Muslims celebrate the Eid-el-Adha globally this Tuesday, faithful in Nigeria, especially in the Northern part, are not likely to completely revel in the season, what with the security situation in the country that is worsening by the day. There is also the issue of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is said to be deadlier than the previous ones. What advice do clerics have for their followers as they celebrate the event, to ensure that they do not contract or spread the disease? What roles can clerics and congregations play in stemming the tide of banditry, kidnapping and violence ravaging the country? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.

‘Clerics Should Encourage Leaders To Muster Political Will To Serve People, Not Itself’
(Amb) Nasir Awhelebe Uhor (JP), Rivers State Islamic Leader/Vice President General, Rivers State Council for Islamic Affairs)
The spate of insecurity sweeping the entire country, particularly the Northern parts, is the logical result of sustained criminal neglect of the people’s welfare by successive governments over the decades. Through seminars, workshops and conferences, among others, experts had warned time again that the deteriorating quality of life of the people, worsened by endemic corruption and galloping population could only result in violent social upheaval, such as we are witnessing today.

The series of warnings were treated with contempt by the ruling political class. Even with the current dire security situation, they are energetically carrying on their business of mis-governance, as if all is very well with the country.

To reduce banditry to its barest minimum, therefore, attention must be focused on how to enthrone and sustain good governance. There must be political, economic and social re-engineering towards good governance, as a matter of emergency.

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Politically, there is near abysmal failure of governance. Determined and sustained good governance, people-oriented governance that is, could have nipped banditry and other forms of violence in the bud. It still can, if driven by sincerity and determination of the governance class.

This is where religious clerics come in. They can individually, better still collectively engage the governing class to get them oriented towards investing massively in the people’s welfare. The governing class are custodians of enormous resources and political leverage which, properly deployed, can eliminate the economic and social challenges that fuel all manner of violence being witnessed today. Clerics can and, should challenge the governing class to muster the political will to serve, not itself, as is the case now but the people.

Second, clerics should dig deeper into divine books to come up with, and articulate portions where violence is stridently condemned. In addition, they should tirelessly market proffered solutions in the books to neutralise methods used by the criminal-minded to engage in violence against the society.

Of course, there is no denying that the continuing abduction of students and pupils is worsening the precarious educational system in the North, coming just when most northern states are beginning to invest more in their children’s education. The war against education, Taliban and Afghanistan style, is clearly playing out here.

The state and federal education authorities backed by donor agencies may wish to borrow from Borno State by closing schools in the most vulnerable fringe areas and relocating the pupils to urban schools. More schools can be built for them. This way, it would be easier to mobilise security forces in their strength to protect the cluster of urban schools.

Globally, including the very powerful Western world, ransoms get paid to criminals to secure the release of their victims, even though some countries would pretend otherwise.

A government or state that foreswears the paying of ransom, must not display abject poverty of ideas and capacity to rescue its citizens intact from their abductors, who have time again demonstrated their utter contempt for human lives, including that of children. And hundreds of lives are involved. Yet Allah (SWT) obligated us to do everything we can to save life.

State refusal to pay ransom, in addition to its clay footedness in wielding the big stick, does not change anything, so long parents are forced to pay to save their children. Not that I support payment of ransom. But I find it wholly unacceptable that with all the technology at its disposal, a country or state in this 21st Century can helplessly watch its children being abducted in their hundreds into forests within its territory.

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If the bandits can so easily infiltrate the state’s security agencies, and they are unable to do same to the criminals, it raises a big question mark as to the competence of the security agencies, the government or both. The government and its security forces must make banditry a thoroughly unrewarding exercise. Enough of the kid gloves!

And here comes the COVID-19 Delta variant. To the largely indifferent population, it is simply another case of COVID-19. Only that this time around, it is a more deadly type. Having been involved in the campaign on COVID-19 and its vaccine.

If 60 per cent of the existing protocols is observed and enforced, it can go a long way in taking care of whichever variant rears its head here. While efforts are intensified towards sensitising the people, government should take practical, long overdue step towards production of locally researched vaccine. That will eliminate allegation that the vaccines are specially made to de-populate the country. Locally produced vaccines may win back the people’s confidence.

In the meantime, sustained persuasive sensitisation remains a major viable option. The campaign should be vigorous in the social media, which is being actively and negatively used against the virus and its vaccine. Doubting clerics should be the focus of increased education or sensitisation.

‘Our Leaders Should Emulate Umar (RA)’s Role Of Accountability’
(Imam Abdul-Azeez Onike, Chief Missioner, NASFAT)
THE prophetic injunction to man to be a moral compass is heavier on the clerics, being the inheritors of the prophets. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest form of Faith.”

Following this injunction, the clerics would have to continue to condemn in clear terms, the acts of brigandage, banditry, kidnapping, violent agitation for self-determination and unbridled tribalism that are now rampant in our nation.

It should be pointed out that those threatening peaceful coexistence in our country should take lessons from those who had toed similar lines in the past and the punishment that Allah had laid down for the perpetrators of such acts here and in the hereafter: Qur’an 5 verse 33, “Those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and go about the earth spreading mischief – indeed their recompense is that they either be stoned to death, or be crucified, or have their hands and feet cut off from the opposite sides or be banished from the land. Such shall be their degradation in this world; and a mighty chastisement lies in store for them in the World to Come.”

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Our leaders should emulate the sense of accountability demonstrated by Umar (RA). He was such a responsible leader to the extent that, he reportedly said: “If a mule were to stumble on the bank of the Euphrates River, I would’ve feared Allah asking me about it, why I did not pave the way for it.” Umar (RA) was worried about safety of a mule, what a highly accountable leader!!! Our leaders must faithfully discharge their responsibilities, as they were voted into power primarily to ensure security and welfare of the citizenry.

Of the many evils that are bedeviling our society today, one that is very worrisome is insecurity, the incessant kidnapping and rampant abduction of students, especially in the northern part of the country. Abductors are becoming more daring, and this trend portends a frightening regression of social life in these regions, which government at all levels and our security forces must rise up to quickly stem the tide.

As we celebrate Eid-ul Kabeer, we admonish the Muslim ummah and all Nigerians to continue to be law-abiding and be of good conduct, while wishing them, happy Eid-ul Kabir.

We would also like to use this occasion to caution that, in view of the new Delta variant of COVID-19 that has been discovered in a few cities, we all should continue to observe all safety and health protocols, as prescribed by those in authority and celebrate the festival with moderation.

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‘Most Societal Challenges Will Be Overcome If Faithful Submit To Allah’
(Dr. Ismail Musa, Chief Imam of University of Lagos (UNILAG) Muslim Community (UMC)
THIS year’s Idul-Adha is an opportunity to glorify and thank Allah for His numerous mercies on humanity. It is the wisest thing to do to overcome individual, communal and global challenges. Allah says: If you are grateful, I will give you more (Qur’an 14:7). By thanking Him, we are demonstrating and renewing our submission to Him. He will reciprocate by increasing His love and care. He has compelled the animals to submit to us, we should feel morally compelled to also submit to Him. If we do, most societal challenges will be eliminated.
 
Although, we are in a festive mood, we must also acknowledge that this is a period of intense worship and devotion. We are in the last month of the Islamic calendar called Dhul-Hijjah. It is the month of the conclusion of Hajj rites in Makkah. Fasting in the first nine days of this month is highly meritorious. The day before the I’d, which is the Day of ‘Arafah (tomorrow) is the most beloved day to Allah. The next four days after Arafah are days of celebrating the praises of Allah i.e. the 9th to 13th of Dhul-Hijjah. Therefore, we must maximise the benefits this exclusive period offers to supplicate for calm, peace and stability of our nation and lasting victory over COVID-19 and its variants.

I encourage all of us to think more about God rather than being preoccupied with worldly goals.  I urge the faithful to observe the COVID-19 protocols strictly at the I’d grounds and mosques, while the Imams should keep the I’d prayer as brief as possible. We should celebrate modestly and extend caring hands to the needy and less privileged.

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