The destruction of over sixty human souls – based on official figures, and damages of valuable properties, among many other consequences of last week’s so-called religious crisis in Kasuwan Magani of Kaduna state, only reminds me that, contrary to Chinua Achebe’s submission on the trouble with Nigeria, religion, or is it it’s manipulation as Bishop Matthew Kukah had argued, is the cog on the wheel that has not allowed us to paddle fast into the promised land. The master storyteller had, long before his demise, identified leadership as the trouble with Nigeria. Yes, it is leadership only if by that he meant the inability of the handlers of our two major religions – Christianity and Islam, to review, adjust and interpret the deposits and tenets of their Faiths in the spirit of the changing realities of our time and context; especially that of our plurality.
I have a feeling that the so-called religious crises have only placed religion on trial while leaving the priests and Imams to proof to us themselves that unlike what we saw in South Africa, Latin America, among a litany of other nations, religion in Nigeria is not an enemy of nationhood. Instead, it is the source of light that illumines a nation’s path to greatness just as the missionaries from the west had demonstrated to us. Without them, how many will be where they are today without the requisite education? I said so-called because it is really not about religion but it’s manipulation by men and women seeking for survival and relevance in a gullible society where sentiments and other parochial considerations have refused to be the forgone alternatives.
Only last year, in a paper I delivered at an annual national education conference organized at the Sultan Muhammadu Maccido Institute, Sokoto, I argued; “We need to restructure the religious industry in Nigeria. By this I mean the devolution of the powers of religion as a Molotov cocktail of death, an instrument of division, disintegration, injustice, and political exclusion among others.” Yes, we must accept the fact that in northern Nigeria, religion has constituted a macro impediment on the roads to progress. Unfortunately, this is not what obtains in other climes where people appear to be more civilized and progressive. When I inquired to know the cause of the earlier crisis in Kasuwan Magani, I was told that it is traceable to marriage between followers of the two major religions. As a bona fide northerner for instance, I am not unaware that intermarriages in the region have been a source of tension so much so that many commentators prefer to keep mute. But as Adamu Adamu courageously said;” We will never be able to solve our problems if all we think is that there are certain things that should not be said or mentioned.”
While I had severally expressed my angst on leaders of the Christian religion in the north for creating an atmosphere infiltrated with tension, hatred and mutual suspicion by the narratives they created since President Muhammadu Buhari took over the leadership of this country, it is very obvious that handlers of northern Islam have to internally look into how many preachers and teachers of their religion preach and interpret the Quran in a multi religious society. Is Islam in Northern Nigeria different from the Islam practiced in other climes especially in Yoruba land here in our backyard? Are the Yorubas less Islamic by not brewing the almajiris who now constitute a nuisance to society?
The truth of the matter is that no religion is greater than humanity. Hence, the need for a readjustment based on the realities that characterize our time. We must accept that no religion could be stagnant in its interpretation of the divine message given hundreds of years ago. When I recently learned that the Evangelical Church Of West Africa had edited their name and are now Evangelical Church Winning All, I told my friend that this is just the beginning of an editorial excursion since after agreeing on the name they wish to call themselves, with time, based on the changing realities, they Will be pushed into reviewing most of their doctrines. And this is not strange. The Catholic Church, with it’s over two thousand years of existence, have been traveling on this same route. She has had about twenty one ecumenical councils aimed at looking into – from time to time, it’s beliefs and doctrines in the face of the changing world and it’s attendant realities. The council of Trent for instance, stands out so far as the longest council for eighteen years under five different Popes.
The recent events in Kasuwan Magani should be the peeping hole into why the north has remained volatile, retrogressive and divisive. Scholars of the Islamic religion in the region must rise to the challenge of saving the face of their religion in an era where perception is greater than reality. The experiences of non Muslims in the region over years have only widened the cleavage. Though Adamu Adamu had put the blame on his fellow Muslims “for insensitivity and disregard for what their history has done and meant to their non- Muslim neighbors”, and a defense by asking the neighbors to forget the past and forge ahead since it is in the very nature of feudalism to do injustice, it will interest him to know that there are many northerners who still insist on using the religion to inflict hardship on others. It is this set of people who have continued to give the impression that the north is simply an Islamic state Hence, the dhimmitude in all aspects of life.
This set of people – probably the remaining debris of the Kaduna Mafia, do insist that there should be no intermarriages between the two camps except in circumstances that the pagans agree to be baptized into their own camp. It is this mentality that has given rise to a superiority syndrome that seems to suggest that, like in the Animal Farm, some are more equal than others; hence the inequality in the structure of the society as well as the born- to-rule syndrome in them.
While Christian clerics must not relent in preaching and teaching their faithful about the merits of loving one’s neighbors, it is very obvious that Muslim theologians have the urgent task of reviewing the practices that have either continued to inflict hardship on others, arisen some misgivings, or even responsible for why the north has been moving on a reversed gear at a time when the rest of the country sees it as parasite.
This, for me, is the crux of the matter.
Finally, with the crises which started in Kasuwan Magani, spilled over to Kaduna metropolis and environs, plus the abduction that has now resulted in the death of the Agom Adara, Dr. Maiwada , there is again so much tension in the whole of the state fueled by rumours. This is in deed a very difficult time that requires maturity, patriotism and prayers by all the good people of the state. Rather than playing into the hands of the enemies of our state who are out to destroy us. We should submit everything to God believing that He sees and knows everything. And while it is not worth mentioning that many politicians will translate this difficult moment of our history for transactions against their imagined enemies, those whose primary responsibility it is to protect us have the chance of vindicating themselves when they are able to fish out the killers of the monarch . May God bless the souls of all who have died as we continue to pray for peace.
Yes, in years to come, posterity will measure our worth only based on our refusal to succumb to the sentiments and rumours of the moment!