Saturday, March 3, 2018

Why Gov Nasir El-Rufai Must Arrest Religious Mayhem In Southern Kaduna


By by Erasmus Ikhide
Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has been unfortunate to be voted in as the “accidental governor” of Kaduna State. Since 1980, the crocodile state has been floating on the river of blood visited on it by those who find it nauseating to reside in the same neighbourhood and space as those who do not share the same faith and religion. How we arrive at this mind-wrecking and anti-humanistic station in our journey into nationhood — even when all religion preach tolerance and peaceful cohabitation is something that constitutes a blight on us, as people.
*Gov El-Rufai
The latest Christian and Muslim clash in Southern Kaduna that took place at Kasuwan Magani town in Kajuru Local Govenment Area of Kaduna State, over which over a 1,000 houses were torched and several souls lost two days ago is not salutary to whatever efforts the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police claimed to have made. 
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Austin Iwar acknowledged that the police was aware of earlier skirmishes two weeks ago in the area but queries the 45 minutes distance between Kaduna and Kajuru Local Government, where the unfortunate incident occurred. Crisis started on Monday, when a Christian girl who was allegedly engaged to a Muslim man was about to convert to Islam, a development that angered youths of the predominantly Christian settlement.
Without any fear of contradiction, anarchy looms lurks at our doorsteps since the Nigerian Police can openly display its incompetence and hopeless readiness to arrests internal insurrection in record time. The Nigerian Police has not only failed itself in the area of intelligence gathering but has also failed a nation in traumatic transition. Without a pro-active police force what can a governor do with the mere notional impression as the chief security of the state when the police is less able to function mentally, technically, and in a digital forensic manner? How can the governor and government of a state prosecute those who take laws into their own hands when security officials either callously take sides with offenders on account of religion or complains of mobility to the scene of crime scene after suspects have been allowed to escape? What can the police actually do when the government fails to equip the police with the necessary modern tools to make things easier and other ancillary motivation? Who can truly redeem the police institution that has been lobotomizing gross failure on flimsy excuses?
Governor El-Rufai gave an intriguing insight into the historical crisis of religion intolerance that have been plaguing Kaduna State and the attendant harvest of deaths that come with it. The governor revealed the scale of human toll religious hostility had caused the state when a delegation led by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) paid him a visit at the Government House, Kaduna.
“Since 1980, about 10,000 to 20,000 were killed in Kaduna State during crisis and government did not prosecute anybody. We are determined to end the killings in Kaduna. Henceforth, the law will fully apply without fear or favour. We have made some arrests and you will be shock to see the calibre of perpetrators that we are going to arrest and prosecute. No matter highly the person is we will bring him or her to face the full wrath of the law to serve as deterrent to others who may want to sponsor crisis”, he said.
At another time, the governor harped on the romote and immediate causes of religion intolerance in Kaduna state. Frustratingly, Governor Nasir El-Rufai actually sniffed out the problems early enough. He told journalists a few months into his administration that, “One of the challenges we are facing in this state is that everything seems to be politicised or ethnicised or religionised. A very simple problem that can be discussed and resolved by logic and facts becomes converted into issues of ethnicity and religion, and so on. So, these are some of the challenges we have to face but we are doing the best we can.
“Our religion is our personal business. Most people in this country believe in one God. We believe we are worshipping the same God in different ways. The moment I got elected, the number of people that came to me who wanted to be the secretary of Muslim Pilgrims Board showed to me that there was a problem. Nobody wanted to be commissioner of finance and so on. That means there is something happening there in the name of religion. But honestly, one of the legacies Arch. Barnabas Bala Bantex and I want to leave behind in this state is the complete separation of religion from governance and hypocrisy associated with it.
“I say hypocrisy because the same person that preaches and incites people against a Christian has no problem going to the hospital to see a Christian doctor if the doctor is good. He would not remember that the doctor is a Christian then. In my opinion, they are just blowing this thing to cause problem and distract ordinary people, while they take advantage of the situation and system. We want to eliminate that in Kaduna, we want everyone to feel that in this state you can practice your religion without hindrance and your religion and ethnicity would not be a factor in getting government services and appointment. It must be your capacity and competence to deliver; that’s all.
“The problem that we found in Kaduna State is that ethnicity and religion come first, competence and capacity last. We want to reverse that; because we believe that those who work, those that are competent, those that can deliver benefit to everyone. I don’t need to have someone from my local government if the government is working. But if the government is not working and then everybody is stealing, then I would want to have a representative there. This is what has turned our heads. I am appealing to you as our partners, as those that communicate with the general public to help us in our effort to make this state better. When a government works, it works for everybody. Government cannot choose to have schools for one ethnic group or one religion alone. That is what we want to move away from and you can help”.
There is no question whether or not Mallam El-Rufai has proffers reasonable solutions to religious intolerance in Kaduna State that has triggered relentless anarchy and turmoil, overtime. He needs to do more in the areas of monitoring religious education in schools, including comparative religious studies, so as to promote religious understanding and prevent radicalization, particularly among the youth. The givers of religious studies must be properly trained and thoroughly regulated as stipulated by the law passed under Governor El-Rufai administration by Kaduna State House of Assembly.
The governor should make it a point of duty to regularly organise parleys and dialogues between religious leaders and government at the state and local levels once or twice in a month so as to encourage inter-religion harmony. The security concerns must at all times promptly and decisively move to deal with religion related skirmishes before they escalate into full blown crises in any part of the state. The security agents must be well-trained and adequately equipped to carry out intelligence and surveillance on religious bodies and preachers that show tendencies toward extremism and radicalism.
More also the government must act fairly and should not be one-sided in its intervention. Most importantly, the Government must address the socio-economic problems and unemployment in the state and the resultant deprivation, pain, frustration, agony, hunger and anger of the citizens, especially the youth, which make them vulnerable and susceptible to crime. The government or any of its agent should —as much as possible — deemphasize using religion as a subject of campaign during elections. The Federal Government have to secure our porous and land borders in order to prevent influx of illegal aliens that have seemingly constitute security threat to the country.
So far, Governor El-Rufai’s initiative has been commendable. But the challenge has been that the forces who are bent at frustrating the religious reform agenda of his government are more daring and mindless at their masochistic obsession.
The governor has one option: constant interrogation, validation and activation of government’s monopoly of instruments of violence against individuals or group of persons. Mallam El-Rufai can’t afford to do otherwise because the salvation of religious tolerance in Northern Nigeria rests squarely on his slander shoulders. His urbane education, positive worldview and clarity of thoughts must be employed to redeem Northern Nigeria and purge it of religious extremism.
*Erasmus Ikhide is a Public Affairs Analyst (ikhideerasmus@gmail.com)

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