Anyone with a modicum of human feeling would be horrified by the orgy of violence and destruction that has enveloped the world making millions of people sad and sullen. Imagine the horrible life of the Syrians, once a happy and proud people, and the citizens of the war-ravaged Afghanistan. From Iraq to Somalia, from the Central African Republic and our neighbouring Sudan to several other places, human beings are slaughtered like chickens in thousands daily.
When we were growing up, wars and human suffering at an industrial scale used to be far off, with the Palestinians being the dominant object of focus. Now, the whole world appears to sit on a keg of gun powder as disaster hovers ominously on places it is not yet ravaging. The once peaceful Ukraine is now a theatre of war of attrition and human rights violations and wickedness now cast a spell over Libya and Egypt.
In our country, the atrocities of Boko Haram and their implications for human life, living and livelihood are an open sore that still assails our national conscience. As Horace Walpole said, “life is a tragedy for those who feel but a comedy to those who think”, those who live in the North East are the ones who actually know the harsh reality of fate and the agony of loss they are passing through while the rest of us think about politics and power.
The drum beats of war are loud in our land and the vultures seem to be gathering for a feast. At this point, we all owe it a duty to ensure that the grave political game at hand does not result in a Tsunami that would wipe us all out of existence or subject our long-suffering people to additional catastrophe. Something is about to burst and it is time to apply wisdom.
The point I am making is that like the United States, many true Nigerians have expressed their “deep disappointment” one way or another on the postponement of the elections earlier slated for tomorrow but the deed has been done. We tried to avoid it by blowing hot but here it is. There are speculations that more disappointing surprises await Nigerians from a dangerous cabal that is obsessed with the Samson syndrome but all the same, we must maintain calm, embrace peace and keep faith.
What confronts Nigerians is a “hot pap” scenario that requires a lot of patience. Our people say if the hot pap is not patiently approached and one hurriedly takes it, it would scald one’s throat. When the inevitable comes, we better say it is welcome lest we play into the looming Syrian situation in which extremists on both sides contribute to the enduring Armageddon. The right attitude to any disappointment is to consider it a blessing in disguise.
Without prejudice to William Shakespeare who wrote that “there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face”, the posture and words of President Goodluck Jonathan at his media chat this Wednesday were assuring. But can the President rein in his men who are braying for blood both literally and metaphorically?
One of the good things the President said during the chat, which I consider one of his best, was that he wanted to make history as the first African President to lose an election in 2011 but between 2011 and now, some African Presidents have taken the credit. By that, he implied that in May 2012, the opposition coalition defeated the then incumbent Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho while in October 2014, Peter Mutharika defeated former President Joyce Banda of Malawi. Besides, the 87-year old Beji Caid Essebsi, an opposition candidate, won the 2014 elections in Tunisia defeating President Moncef Marzouki. All these heads of Governments conceded defeat, made the will of the people count and saved their countries from calamities.
There is no doubt about it, Nigerians and members of the international community consider the postponement of elections a serious setback. But then, isn’t every disappointment a blessing just as every cloud has a silver lining? The answer to the question is a resounding YES and Nigerians await the blessing of this disappointment!
Therefore, the political class and their followers, including cash-and-carry hate-preachers and war-mongering ethnic supremacists, should exercise restraint. The Nigerian youth should not allow themselves to be used for mayhem while still standing resolute for their rights because in the long run, it is the masses that would suffer most, not the political elite that will jet out of country or those for whom war is good business. The operative word now for all is caution.
ISLAM IS NOT A CONTESTANT
The Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and former President of the Association of African Universities (AAU), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, aptly captured the mood of right-thinking Nigerians, not just Muslims, in a press conference he addressed this Tuesday (February 10, 2015) over an obscene and provocative advert being run on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
In the advert, the usual misguided attempts to disparage General Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) made the sponsors launch attacks on Islam and Muslims in this country relying on outright lies and distortions. As the NSCIA scribe said, “unassailable facts show that over 80 per cent of the victims of the 2011 post-election violence to which the advertisement in question refers were Muslims. These facts are available in both the reports and the White Papers of the Federal and Kaduna State Governments’ panels on the crisis”.
Quite appropriately, the internationally acclaimed don and former Vice-Chancellor further stressed that “Islam is not a candidate contesting for an office in the coming general elections and it is never expected that any individual or group with the right frame of mind would want to drag this religion of Allah into politics.”
The same day Prof. Oloyede addressed the press on the “dangerous advertisement on NTA” and rising Islamophobia in Nigeria promoted by irresponsible media, three Muslim students were shot dead by a man whose religious identity is not put on the spot at the University of North Carolina at Chapel in the United States. Their offence was being Muslim; thanks to the well-oiled media hate machine that is now being copied in Nigeria.
Though “only six percent of alleged domestic terrorists in the United States over the last five years have been Muslim, the media promotes the lie that 100% of Muslims are terrorists, denying established FBI facts and statistics”, author Abdul Malik Mujahid recently wrote. Buyers beware: the media had aided genocide in Rwanda; NTA in particular and the media at large should be professional and socially responsible.
Nigerians want peace; the media should not connive with the political anarchists to drag them into war. Let the advert be stopped immediately!