In The Middle Of A Storm   

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I was almost set to start hitting the road to my village when at about 8 am, penultimate Thursday, I saw Bishop Kukah’s call. “What is it in this early hour of the day?” I pondered in fear. His Lordship wanted us to conclude discussions on a Gwong lady – Gloria Auta, who had come to Abuja from Lagos; and on an illustrious Kuturmi son in Ukraine. While the lady runs a football academy in Lagos that has Daniel Amokachi as Patron, the Kuturmi son is aspiring to have the biggest poultry farm in Nigeria located here in our home soil. They both need the Bishop’s contact and wise counsel especially on the modus vivendi of their set goals. He said to me: “How do I meet them because I am on my way to Kaduna for a meeting on our kidnapped seminarians?”. After our conversation, I was hopeful that I will see him in the village the following day being the funeral of his elder sister.

But he was not there and we were all surprised that he could skip the funeral of ‘his blood’ for whatever reason. Little did we know that things had gone sour and like in the scale of preference, the release of the kidnapped seminarians was more important to him than attending the funeral. In the end, though three of the seminarians were later released, only the remainder of the fourth, from Sokoto Diocese, a young promising orphan, returned. Yes, this is the state of our Nation for more than a decade now.

But as sympathetic as this may appear, this is no news to us since we are somehow used to the embarrassing status quo and it is now as if we are in the Hobbesian cul de sac where life, as in the state of nature, is nasty, brutish and short. It was under this status quo that we lost Major General Mohammed Mamman Shuwa, Sheikhs Ja’afar Mahmud Adam and Auwal Albani, and dozens of people in a bomb explosion at Kano Central Mosque where the influential Muslim leader, the Emir of Kano, usually leads prayers. The Emir’s crime was that he had earlier called for people to arm themselves against the Islamist militant group – Boko Haram.

In Southern Kaduna, as in many places such as Zamfara, Benue, Birnin Gwari, etc, over nine hundred people have lost their lives and still counting. But as Bishop Kukah noted in his appeal letter to Nigerians’: “This evil has crossed religious and ethnic barriers”. And this is why I think the debate on the religious identity of the alleged culprit of the attempted bombing of the Living Faith Church in Kaduna, last Sunday, is needlessly distracting. I thought we had since moved away from these artificial lines created by falsehood and bigotry! What is clear now is that no ethnic or religious group is underrepresented in this tournament of bloodletting. Of course, there are occasions Churches were bombed and Christians killed and investigations finally revealed that the culprits were not Muslims; and vice versa.

While many have continued to blame government; giving the impression that the protection of human life as it’s primary responsibility implies an exclusive role or responsibility, there is now, more than ever before, the need to stress the fact that security is everyone’s business and that no government can ever be able to protect you without your partnership. What this means is that all hands must be on deck if we are to overcome the present situation. Unfortunately, the blame game, typical of our country, might not end soon. But even as this continues, I have noticed why our intelligentsia has to shoulder a large chunk of it. I make this point because, there has been an abysmal lack of diagnosis of the identity, cause, mission, as well as the local and international connections of these merchants of death which makes it look as if we have only been battling with the symptoms of the epidemic rather than the disease itself.

Studies have shown that every generation has its peculiar challenges and it is the role of its intelligentsia or philosophers, not its politicians, except if they are also philosophers, to diagnose and proffer solution(s) to those challenges. This is perhaps why our security agencies have intelligence units.

For some time now, I have been so worried about the role of our sociologists, psychologists, criminologists, etc. What are their findings of the present situation and the way out? What have we missed in the Social Contract? What has robbed us of our humanity making us the beasts that most of us are today? Unfortunately, I am yet to come across any credible research that explains the present state of insecurity! It is perhaps, this lack of a well-researched roadmap from our institutions of learning that has made us confused on the strategies to deploy in battling a disease whose name we don’t even know. How can we cure an ailment without a proper diagnosis? And this diagnosis ought to have come from our Universities that are supposedly the incubators of ideas.

Unfortunately, our Professors have become more occupied with conversations around their remunerations than on researches that will improve the value of our living conditions. Obviously, it is the lack of these researches from our Ivory Towers that has made gullible citizens rely on the Nation’s perennial windows of religion, tribe and region to interpret the present enigma.

But history is replete with examples of how societies were faced with difficulties and their intellectuals quickly rose to the challenge of finding the solutions. In the Ancient period, we saw how the Athenian intelligentsia proffered solutions to the cosmological challenge of their time by asking: “Ex qua materia constituti mundi?” Meaning, of what material is the earth made of? And while Socrates was concerned about morality in his time, the medieval Fathers were preoccupied with the relationship between Theology and Philosophy. And that was their peculiar challenge.

But why have contemporary social scientists, appeared to be lagging behind unlike say, their colleagues in the medical field? Recall that with less than a month to the arrival of the dreaded coronavirus, medical scientists, especially in Israel and China, are already claiming to have found the cure. This was also what happened when we were visited by the haemorrhagic Ebola virus. Even our home-based scientists were not left behind in the race of finding the cure.

History will, for instance, be fair to late Professor Andrew Jonathan Nok. Because, as I said somewhere, ” Apart from millions, if not billions, of people whose lives will daily benefit from his investigations on the scourge of malaria and snake venom, some 75 million cattle who are annually exposed to trypanosomiasis on the continent are now on the path of redemption”. These, of course, are few examples of intellectuals who rose up to the challenge of finding solutions to societal ailments pertaining to their field of research.

But why the deafening silence from our sociologists, psychologists, criminologists, political scientists, etc, in the face of the insecurity that is about to consume us? We remember with nostalgia that in a similar situation in the 1980s, Bala Usman and his colleagues came out to analyze the situation to save our country from impending collapse. Within the context of the Maitatsine uprising in Kano city from 18th to 29th December 1980 leading to the loss of 4,177 lives; the Bulukuntu riots in Maiduguri from 28th to 30th October 1982 with a death toll of over 400 persons; the acronomy that attended the Sharia debate in the run-up to the second republic; the attempt to read religious meanings to the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed and the riots of Kaduna from Friday, 29th to Saturday, 31st October 1982, Dr Usman came out with a research titled ‘The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria’ aimed at solving the so-called religious crises.

As a friend wrote: “If Dr Usman were alive today, he would certainly not be silent in the face of the lingering insecurity. He would use his intellectual prowess to explain the fundamental issues to the masses and help ensure the restoration of sanity”. Yes, he will as he did in 1987 after the religious riots in Kaduna State that led to the destruction of Churches, Mosques, hotels, cinemas, businesses, etc. After the riots, Dr Usman mobilized 21 other academic colleagues at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, to issue a strongly worded statement published in the New Nigerian on the 20th March 1987, and the Guardian on the 25th March 1987. Their demand:” We call on the Federal Military Government to shed all ambiguities and hesitation, and to declare and reaffirm that the Nigerian State is SECULAR and one of its most fundamental responsibilities is to protect the right of every citizen and resident to practice the religion of their choice.

We call on the Federal Military Government to implement this decisively and clearly by identifying publicly and punishing according to the law, all the rich and powerful individuals who are known to be behind the campaign of violent religious politics aimed at destroying our country…We are convinced that the sinister and utterly reactionary forces behind this campaign of violent religious politics with the aim of destroying our country are made up of a tiny oligarchy determined to maintain its power, wealth and privileges at all costs including violent and well-organized mobs in the name of religion”. The question remains: In the face of the lingering insecurity in Nigeria, do we still have such Social scientists?

francisdamina@gmail.com

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