Nigerians’ corruption, Akintola’s intervention
On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, all roads led to Lagos State University (LASU), Lagos, for the 58th Inaugural Lecture of the University, captivatingly entitled “Oh God! What Have We Done? An Eschatological Excursus”. The inaugural lecturer of the day was the celebrated human rights activist, prominent Muslim intellectual and former Dean of Arts, LASU, Prof. Ishaq Lakin Akintola of the Department of Religions and Peace Studies.
There was no dull moment throughout the one-hour lecture as Prof. Akintola held the audience that filled the Auditorium to capacity spell-bound with his electrifying presentation. For those who attended the lecture, it was really a rewarding exercise as an excursion into the mind and career of the eschatologist (someone specialising in matters connected with death, resurrection, judgment, heaven and hell), revealed many ills “killing” Nigeria and the way forward to our Paradise Lost. It was a lecture that is worth sharing because of its aptness, relevance and timeliness.
Making historical allusion to the American bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and the attendant death of 130,000 people with immediate effect, which made Robert Lewis who dropped the bomb to exclaim, “My God, what have we done?” the lecturer took pains to paint the gory picture of what corruption and other social vices have turned Nigeria to. This he did apart from deconstructing eschatology and its manifestations in the teachings of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and many cultures like those of the Greek, the Egyptians and even among the Yoruba.
As one major area where Nigerians retard their own progress and destroy their future, the lecturer highlighted how corruption pervades the whole gamut of the society. “Corruption has grown into such a cankerworm that every system decays at its touch. It has become a gangrene that must be burned out with hot iron and a cancerous tumor in the anatomy which must be cut off from the rest of the body in order to save the latter,” he noted.
It is regrettable and agreeable that, as the Inaugural Lecturer put it, “Nigerians have allowed Africa’s rich culture to metamorphose into a culture of waste. We waste our wealth on trivial things. We consume everything and leave nothing for the future. We praise the thieves among us and award them titles in the churches and the mosques…Our marriage ceremonies are the loudest and most expensive in the world. We bury our loved ones and ‘bury’ our money with them…Parents hire impersonators who write their children’s examinations. We idolize indolence and demonize diligence and integrity. We treat the few honest ones among us like lepers and call them fools. Whereas nations of the West make progress through orderliness and decorum, we have sent common sense packing through the borders?...What is wrong with us as a people?”
The lecturer’s ten recommendations are far-reaching and profound. As far as the lecturer, who has cheated deaths many times in his pro-democracy and human rights struggles, is concerned, hajj sponsorship should be stopped by both the Federal and State Governments; corrupt public officials should be jailed and banned from holding public office; Nigerians should desist from defending corrupt public officers on the basis of religion, ethnicity and political affiliation; the Federal Government should recruit at least 100,000 more policemen before the end of 2019 in order to meet global best practices while religious organisations should stop indiscriminate award of chieftaincy titles.
Furthermore, the Director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) recommended that noisy mosques and churches should be shut down for at least six months, religious centres which allow their activities to spill to the express ways should be heavily fined and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) should compel every Nigerian pilgrim to pay a minimum of N50,000 to the organisation before embarking on hajj or ‘umrah.
Then, local governments in the country, the Professor of Islamic Eschatology said, should introduce “cow tax” to be charged per number of cows slaughtered at funerals, weddings, house-warmings, chieftaincy title events and ‘freedom’ parties, etc., with money realised from the cow tax used to fund primary schools in the local government. He finally canvassed that state governments should enforce the relevant laws against preaching inside commercial vehicles.
Re: Love, don’t hate
Religious leaders should sensitise their members on the importance of love. Hate causes tension that leads to war. We should always embrace love that results in tranquility and harmony irrespective of race and religious persuasion. – Aina Akindele Oyebanji, Ketu, Lagos State