] Watch] Civil So­ci­ety That con­fer­ence and our fu­ture (I)

Ha­jiya Bilk­isu

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

Rabi:

Zainab:

Rabi:

Rabi:

Zainab:

with

We were in Sokoto for a town hall meet­ing of stake­hold­ers on Ma­ter­nal and Child Health. I sat at the reg­is­tra­tion ta­ble with the mem­bers of Ad­vo­ca­cyNige­ria net­work, the non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion host­ing the meet­ing with sup­port from SURE- P. One of the mem­bers of the net­work started dis­cussing the events un­fold­ing at the con­fer­ence.

I have been lis­ten­ing to those dis­parate groups of del­e­gates at the Abuja Na­tional con­fer­ence and won­der­ing when they will fin­ish their de­bate on the Pres­i­dent’s speech. I found some of them bor­ing, some are ar­tic­u­late and some are def­i­nitely out to cre­ate dis­cord by mak­ing false and provoca­tive state­ments. So sad be­cause they are sup­posed to be lead­ers.

I am also amazed at the di­vi­sive agenda some of the del­e­gates have been pro­mot­ing but one del­e­gate made my day. His speech gave me hope .A young man who is now show­ing his elders, some of them old enough to be his grand­par­ent what ci­vil­ity is.

Who is this del­e­gate? Auwal: He is my friend, Malam Nu­rudeen Lemu a del­e­gate rep­re­sent­ing the Supreme Coun­cil for Is­lamic Af­fairs, from Niger state, a young man in his thir­ties who pro­vided an in­ter­faith per­spec­tive to the Con­fer­ence. He got a thun­der­ous ova­tion.

What did he say to at­tract spon­ta­neous ova­tion?

Auwal: Malam Nuru Lemu, re­minded other del­e­gates that ‘as a people rep­re­sent­ing people of faith in God from the Is­lamic per­spec­tive, one thing we be­lieve is that God will pro­tect the com­mu­nity that stands for jus­tice even if they are not Mus­lims and God will not pro­tect the com­mu­nity that goes con­trary to jus­tice even if they call them­selves Mus­lims. God is not a re­li­gious bigot.’

Well said. He was echo­ing Sheikh Us­man Dan­fo­dio the nine­teenth century Is­lamic re­former and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate. The sheikh said ‘A coun­try can live with un­be­lief but can­not sur­vive with in­jus­tice. Malam Nuru also spoke

Rabi:

Rabi:

(mni)

the truth, a prin­ci­ple en­shrined in Dan­fo­dio’s code of ethics. The Sheikh said ‘Con­science is an open wound, only truth can heal it.”

Very true. No na­tion can sur­vive when there is in­jus­tice and the best place to talk about the in­jus­tice meted out to poor Nige­ri­ans is at that con­fer­ence. There are pow­er­ful people there who have sus­tained the ma­chin­ery of in­jus­tice.

Malam Nuru also drew at­ten­tion to gen­der in­jus­tice and other types of un­just cul­tures. He said ‘God is not a male chau­vin­ist. He is not an eth­no­cen­tric trib­al­ist. God is not the op­pres­sor of any­one. God is with those who care; those who want for oth­ers those things they want for them­selves.’

There is gen­der im­bal­ance in the com­po­si­tion of that con­fer­ence and there are ex­trem­ists of all shades. From Niger Delta mil­i­tants who see us as ‘par­a­sites’ feed­ing on the oil that be­longs to them be­cause Al­lah put it un­der their soil, to se­ces­sion­ist who want Bi­afra recre­ated to eth­nic and re­li­gious ex­trem­ists who in­tim­i­date Nige­ri­ans who are not from their own eth­nic or re­li­gious group.

Malam Nuru ad­dressed all of them when he said ‘ one ten­dency for people who claim to fol­low a re­li­gion is to slide into the po­si­tion of be­liev­ing that we are bet­ter than the oth­ers. We over­es­ti­mate our virtues and un­der­es­ti­mate the good­ness in oth­ers. The ten­dency is for us to be­come spir­i­tu­ally ar­ro­gant; to for­get that oth­ers are people like us. There is al­ways a ten­sion be­tween rep­re­sent­ing our re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties or our eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties and our loy­alty to the virtues and val­ues and teach­ings of our re­li­gion even those lofty ideals of our eth­nic groups. ‘

Auwal:

Zainab:

Auwal:

I don’t know of any re­li­gion or eth­nic group that preaches vi­o­lence. How­ever the way some of the so called lead­ers who are now del­e­gates at the con­fer­ence have been mak­ing in­flam­ma­tory state­ments is dis­turb­ing. One can’t ex­plain how they got ap­pointed to dis­cuss the fu­ture of this coun­try.

Well Malam Nuru

Zainab:

Edi­tor’s note: Our Ed­i­to­rial of yes­ter­day, “INEC can hold all elec­tions in one day,” was in­clu­sive; a pro­duc­tion glitch caused the ex­ci­sion of the last

para­graph. The er­ror is re­gret­ted. set the record straight when he said ‘It is our prayer that del­e­gates will try and en­sure that the spir­i­tual strength we have in us will keep us from not get­ting an­gry and not al­low­ing our bit­ter­ness from oth­ers to make us sail from jus­tice. It is in this vein and as a del­e­gate from the Supreme Coun­cil of Is­lamic Af­fairs, we con­demn the mur­der of all Chris­tians, we con­demn the mur­der of all Mus­lims. Not be­cause they are Chris­tians or Mus­lims, but be­cause they are hu­man be­ings – crea­tures of God. There is no com­pul­sion in re­li­gion. We all own Nigeria. We all be­long here. And we all have the right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. ‘

Com­ing from Jos, a city that has had more than its fair share of sense­less killing of in­no­cent people, I was glad that he men­tioned the set­tler/ in­di­gene di­chotomy. He said ‘Ev­ery eth­nic group is an op­pressed mi­nor­ity some­where. Ev­ery group is a re­li­gious and eth­nic mi­nor­ity some­where. Ev­ery ma­jor­ity or set­tler is an in­di­gene some­where. In one way, we are all set­tlers; we just don’t re­mem­ber where we came from or why we came.

But ul­ti­mately, we are all vis­i­tors to this planet, from God we come and to Him we re­turn.’

Am from Zan­gon Kataf in Kaduna State and this strand res­onates with me. My great grand­par­ents set­tled in Zango over three hun­dred years ago. We can’t trace our orig­i­nal home but we are still be­ing re­ferred to as “set­tlers.” So how many years do we need to live in a place be­fore we qual­ify to be ‘in­di­genes? The state cap­i­tal Kaduna is also a di­vided city like Jos. We need to ac­com­mo­date di­ver­sity and bring an end to eth­nic cleans­ing.

Malam Nuru ad­dressed that too when he re­minded del­e­gates that ‘ we should re­spect that right and do unto oth­ers what we will do unto our­selves. There are many other coun­tries that have eth­nic and re­li­gious di­ver­sity far greater than what we have here in Nigeria. But some­thing that dis­tin­guishes us from them, be it Sin­ga­pore, United States, they have been able to re­spect the rule of law so that any bigot, any nepo­tis­tic in­di­vid­ual who tram­ples on the right of any­one es­pe­cially that of the mi­nor­ity, the rule of law will catch up with them. Satan will only find a hole if there is a crack in that rule of law.’

There is cer­tainly a crack in the wall of our var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties and Satan has es­tab­lished his home in people’s minds.

Auwal:

Rabi:

Zainab:

Rabi:

It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to make peace in the minds of people so that we can have peace in our coun­try.

Zainab:

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