Thursday, 30 September 2010

She Was Raped

Because she was beautiful
Fresh, virginous, promising
She was gang-raped

She was resourceful
With fruits upstairs, crude downstairs
And sweet magic everywhere

She was gang-raped
First by strangers
Who voyaged here

From across the big river
To pick the pods
And oil their engines

Then by her own children
Incestuous, amoral thugs
Thieves, robbers, murderers

They gang-raped her
For 46 + 50 years
Now they are celebrating.

By Ibrahim Sheme
September 30, 2010

Monday, 27 September 2010

Malam Turi And The New Nigerian Dream

Malam Turi Muhammadu, the former editor of the New Nigerian and, later, managing director of the newspaper company, was a titan whose role in the development of journalism in this country is being appreciated largely after his demise on September 17, 2010, aged 70. There are many such people in our communities – silent achievers who have touched the lives of a lot of people but remain uncelebrated until something grievous, such as death, has affected them.

As we have seen in the last few days, Malam Turi had touched the lives of many Nigerian journalists during his lifetime. He played a mentoring role during and after his active years in the career. From the tributes paid to him by Sam Nda-Isaiah, Mohammed Haruna, Clem Baiye, Adamu Adamu and others, one could deduce that Malam was an intellectual giant, a thoroughbred professional and a good manager of men and materiele, as well as someone who wanted the New Nigerian dream to be sustained, not only within the newspaper that he edited but also within the men and women who write for or manage other publications whose origin is in the North. Hence his interest in the people who are running or writing for those papers that share an umbilical cord, in one way or the other, with the New Nigerian, papers like Daily Trust, Leadership and Peoples Daily. I am sure many journalists working on these papers – and those still at the New Nigerian today – would attest to the fact that Malam Turi was one of the few senior citizens in this profession who cared to maintain a form of contact with them, all with the view to ensuring that they sustain a tradition of finesse and good taste in their work. Some he considered his sons and daughters in the profession, while others were his ‘grandchildren’.

I was one of such people. My path first crossed with Malam Turi’s when he personally sent for me through a handwritten note 13 years ago. I was startled and at the same time delighted that he, of all people, was the one wanting to see me. In the note, he said he had learnt that I was working on the official biography of the Hausa music icon, Alhaji Mamman Shata, and would like to tell me a few things that might prove useful. I had never met Malam Turi at the time and all my recollections about him were based on my image of him as a celebrated newspaperman; but then, of course, journalists are interested in many other vocations, and music is usually one of them. Another former managing director of the New Nigerian Newspapers Limited, Alhaji Tukur Othman, had given me a long interview, at his own behest, in which I got an insight about Shata's connection to Kaduna-based northern intellectuals such as Alhaji Sani Zangon Daura.

I met Malam at his house in the Malali area of Kaduna on the appointed day, i.e. July 22, 1997. It was a meeting I will never forget. I was struck by his humility and a desire to go out of his way to please, insisting that I should sit on the cushion seat opposite him instead of on the floor where I had first sat, legs folded, as a mark of my reverence for him. Then he arranged for a meal for both of us. I could hardly eat as I was overwhelmed by my knowledge of his track record in a field in which I was just struggling to cut my teeth and by his completely disarming nature.

In our chat, Malam showed me he had been following my career with interest. He knew I had edited Hotline magazine five years earlier, after spending some years at The Reporter, obtained a Masters in Journalism from Britain and was now working at the New Nigerian as a senior editorial staffer. Our discussion on Mamman Shata was quite revealing, too. I had thought that I knew too much about that music legend to be told anything new, especially by a Nupe man. But Malam did tell me something I had never even contemplated: the songs Shata had composed against people that offended him (zambo) were quite few compared to those that he sang for his benefactors, and that had helped his rise as the unsurpassed king of Hausa folk music. When I looked deeply, I realised that this insight was true. Malam Turi’s comments were built into the 604-page book, Shata Ikon Allah, which was published in 2006, and appropriately credited.

My subsequent relationship with Malam was on and off, largely my fault. He had wanted to see me often, but somehow I couldn’t pay regular visits to him as much as I would have loved to. My excuse was that I was maintaining two houses, one in Kaduna and the other in Kano. In retrospect, however, this defence did not hold water, and I regretted not being as close to Malam as he would like me to. I regretted not tapping enough from his huge reservoir of knowledge and wisdom, which he was ever willing to share. I was only able to visit him once in a while. And he always received me enthusiastically, asking, “Did so and so tell you my greetings to you when they came here?” Yes, they always told me, “I was in Malam Turi’s house recently, and he said I should extend his warm regards to you.” Such concern of his always worsened my sense of guilt and I would inwardly promise to return to him, like the prodigal son, in order to catch up with a chitchat we might have begun during my previous visit a long time earlier. Malam was always interested in my remaining in the journalism profession, arguing that the North needed people like me to be there. But after working for four years at the New Nigerian, where I was variously features editor, foreign editor, arts editor, secretary of the Editorial Board, and finally deputy editor, I quit. Salaries had not been paid for six months and I had begun to doubt there was any reasonable future in a career that could not feed my family. In the end, however, I made my way back to it and I’m glad I did.

Malam Turi was a decent gentleman whose dream was the development of the North. It was a pity he did not make it to the Senate after he left the NNN in 1980 and couldn’t pursue a career in politics, which he found out to be too dirty for his liking. I know that one of his big pains was the eventual collapse of the New Nigerian as an authoritative national voice from the North. Mohammed Haruna, in his tribute published in the Daily Trust on Wednesday, argued that the decline of the paper began with the departure of Turi when the subsequent managements turned the vision of its founding fathers completely upside down. I agree. Malam’s book, Courage and Conviction, was meant to convey that message by giving a clear portrait of the New Nigerian’s two decades of glory. A paper that used to print 250,000 copies daily during its apogee was, at a time, printing 2,000 copies. Even though there were sparks of attempts to recapture the glory, the pain got even worse in the last 10 years or so. The best tribute to the memory of Malam Turi (May Allah have mercy on his soul) and people like him who worked hard to give the New Nigerian a pride of place is to do whatever is necessary to put it back in shape.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

How Monsters Are Created

What type of children are we parents producing these days? Do we take responsibility for what they become and what they do in the society? If they turn out to be saints or demons, do we say it is due to our handling? These questions have run riot in my mind for a long time. They began to flit through my consciousness and, indeed, task my conscience, ever since Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab, the promising young man from a respected family, was said to have tried to bomb an airliner over Detroit, USA, last December. The questions then were: why should he? What did he want in life? They said he was working for Al-Qaida.

The biggest tug on my conscience occurred on Wednesday when the media reported of yet another young man admitting that he was responsible for the chilling murder, five days ago in Kano, of his mother, father, two younger sisters and his younger brother. The murder on Sunday morning had at once inspired this write-up, whose initial peg was the rising cycle of violence in the country. The man murdered in Kano, together with all the members of his immediate family except two, was an officer of the State Security Service. Alhaji Garba Bello and the others were butchered with a kitchen knife in their own home. Blood was all over the place.

One's immediate reaction was immeasurable shock at the barbarity of the act. How did the man offend someone so much that he and his family had to be wiped out at one fell swoop in such a brutal manner? Who was so heartless as to even contemplate such a gory revenge? The killers must be found by whoever is receiving pay and perquisite in the name of maintaining peace and security in this country, I fumed. No stone should be left unturned, in the parlance of the police, in the search for the cold-blooded murderers. But my shock was infinitesimal compared to the revelation that came the following day: Bello, the eldest son of the deceased, was responsible for the killings! According to Kano State police commissioner Mohammed J. Gana, Bello (a.k.a. Baba because he bears the name of his grandfather) committed the atrocity because he believed that life would become unbearable for the family if his father, who was ill, eventually died. The suspect, who was paraded before newsmen, has admitted that he was responsible for the act.

This revelation was more shocking than the first because it questioned the very basis of our claim to being human beings: rational, self-respecting and predestined. The questions being asked nationwide included: what could have motivated a child to take the life of his own mother, father and three siblings? How incurably insane was he at the time? The dastardly act was the most shocking spectacle in Kano since 2006 when another young man murdered Sa'adatu Rimi, his step-mother and the wife of a former governor of the state.

These latest killings were the most unthinkable thing. It all sounded unreal, so foreign. One used to hear about such mass murders happening only in western countries where value systems have been distorted by materialism, individualism and corrosion of religious belief. Here in Nigeria, patricides, matricides and suicides occur once in a long while and they often come as stuff out of fairy tales, cooked from hell and stuffed down the throat of our startled society by the weirdest of beasts camouflaged as persons.

Bello's explanation for the killings was implausible, the mumblings of someone who can only be brain-damaged. Having been expelled from university, he should know that life for him would not end at that point; there are many like him, or even worse, and they pick up the threads of their life from some disadvantaged point and fare well in different fields of endeavour. He was also not basically responsible for the condition of his family's existence. Erasing them from the face of the earth was a warped estimation about an impending life of penury and degradation.

On Thursday, however, a relation of the accused alleged that the killings were not committed by Bello, but by some unknown brigands. He accused the security agencies of forcing a confession out of the young man. That's a twist in the tale which the courts should decide upon. The fact that the young man made the confession in front of the cameras, however, was a challenge to our conscience that should force us to look inwards at our souls and rethink our handling of the younger generation. It is quite possible for this kind of atrocity to happen in our communities; in fact, it has been happening at a lower scale: children sending one of their parents to the great beyond over the smallest disagreement. It happened recently in Katsina State, where a young man killed his father, using a knife. We have always looked the other way, burying our shame, like the ostrich, in the comforting thought that it is happening to someone else, not us. But to others, it happened to their family or neighbours, and the pain could be inexorable. Murders are happening all over the country as the cycle of violence worsens. Already, there are cases of armed robbery and sectarian violence which consume many lives. Politics is also taking lives as thugs, mostly youths, are hired by disgruntled elements to assassinate their opponents. Sometimes the targets are government officials such as the EFCC officer killed by unknown gunmen in Kaduna on Monday. At other times it was journalists such as Bayo Ohu of The Guardian.

We must begin to find solutions quickly. Parents should take the first step by inculcating moral values in their children during their formative years. A Hausa proverb says you can only bend a twig when it is young and fresh. These days, many parents - especially the men - are too busy pursuing food and lucre to bother about enforcing discipline on the home front. Next, the government should stop shirking its primary responsibility of providing functional education and jobs. The school system has collapsed for years, unable to fulfil the yearnings of the society, and those that manage to acquire passable education are eventually left without work. Without skills or jobs, the youths are unemployable, thus becoming ready fodder for any recruiter with dark intentions.

Today, our youths are finding escape in all sorts of vocations, including drugs and pornography. And because they also must survive, they soon veer into crime and prostitution. We don't care about what they read in certain books, magazines or the internet, what they watch in some movies, or what they listen to in certain songs. Meanwhile, our leaders are busy cleaning the treasury dry. Poverty increases as corruption consumes the commonweal. The potential for violence keeps increasing. The result is manifested in all the ugly things we do not want to see or hear. Worse, we don't want to be blamed for our resounding failures. The truth, however, stares us in the face eventually and it is neither beautiful nor presentable.

LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, Saturday, 18 September 2010

Irin 'ya’yan wannan zamanin

Wai wa]anne irin ‘ya’ya ne mu iyaye mu ke haifa a wannan zamanin? Shin mun yarda ha}}in mu ne ko me su ka zama da kuma ko me su ke aikatawa a cikin al’umma? Idan su ka zama na kirki ko kuma su ka lalace, shin za mu ce a dalilin tarbiyyar da mu ka yi masu ne? Wa]annan tambayoyin sun yi ta walankeluwa a rai na a tsawon lokaci. Sun fara yawo a zuciya ta, tare da yin }alubale ga tunani na, tun lokacin da aka ce an kama wani matashi ]an babban gida, wato Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab, da laifin wai ya yi }o}arin tada bam a cikin jirgin sama lokacin das u ka }araci birnin Detroit na }asar Amurka, a ranar 25 ga Disamban da ya wuce. Tambayar da jama’a su ka yi ta yi a lokacin ita ce: don me zai yi hakan? Me ya ke bu}ata a rayuwa? Masu zargin sa da aikata laifi dai sun ce wai }ungiyar Al}a’ida ce ta sa shi.

Babbar tambayar da ta dugunzuma ni, ta faru ne a makon jiya lokacin da labari ya ~ulla cewa wani matashin ya yi wa uwar sa da uban sa da }annen sa uku kisan gilla a Kano. Kisan gillar, wadda aka yi a daren Lahadi, ta sa na ]au al}alami da nufin yin sharhi kan yadda aikata muggan laifuka a }asar nan ya ke }ara yawaita. Shi magidancin da aka kashe a Kano ]in, kamar yadda ku ka ji a labarai, jami’in hukumar tsaron }asa ta SSS ne, wato Alhaji Garba Bello. An kashe shi ta hanyar yanka da wu}ar ]akin girki shi da kusan dukkan iyalin sa in ban da mutum biyu. Jini ya kwarara a gidan, abin ba kyan gani.

Da farko, tun kafin a ce ]an mutumin ne ya yi kisan, na yi matu}ar girgiza kan rashin tausayin da aka nuna wajen kisan. Wane irin laifi ne wannan bawan Allah ya yi da har za a ce shafe shi daga doron }ara tare da duk iyalin sa a irin wannan mugun yanayi? Wane mara imani ne zai ma yi tunanin aikata hakan a matsayin ramuwa? A rai na, na ce tilas ne duk wani mai ]aukar albashi da sunan aikin tabbatar da tsaro da zaman lafiya a }asar nan ya tabbatar da cewa an gano makisan wa]annan mutanen. Kada ‘yan sanda su yi }asa a gwiwa wajen gano wa]annan makisan marasa imani!

To amma ka]uwar da na yi ta farko kan kisan ba ta kai ko cikin cokalin wadda na yi ba washegari da sabon labari ya ~ulla: wai Bello ne, babban ]an marigayin da marigayiyar, ya kashe su! Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un! A cewar kwamishinan ‘yan sanda na Jihar Kano, Alhaji Mohammed J. Gana, wai Bello (wanda aka fi sani da suna Baba) shi ne ya tafka wannan ta’asa saboda ya yi imani da cewa mutan gidan su za su shiga halin ha’ula’i idan mahaifin sa, wanda ba shi da lafiya, ya rasu.

Wannan abu ya fi ba ni mamaki fiye da ainihin kisan domin kuwa ya jefa ni a kogin tunani kan makomar mu ta kiran kan mu da sunan bil’adama da mu ke yi, wato masu hankali da sanin ya-kamata da kuma kar~ar }addara ko wace iri ce. Tambayoyin da ake ta yi a }asar nan su ne: wane irin abu ne zai sa ]a ya halaka uwar sa da uban sa da }anne uku – biyu mata, namiji ]aya? Shin ya haukace ne baki ]aya a lokacin? A gaskiya, ba a ta~a aikata mugun abu irin wannan a Kano ba tun cikin 2006 lokacin da wani matashin ya kashe Hajiya Sa’adatu Rimi, wadda matar uban sa ce, wato tsohon gwamnan jihar, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi.

Wannan kisan gilla da aka yi ya fita daga cikin da’irar hankali, kai ka ce ba a nan }asar ya faru ba. Mu dai mukan karanta a jaridu ko mu gani a talabijin cewa an yi irin wannan kisan kiyashin a wata }asar Turawa, inda da ma son abin duniya, da zaman ‘yan marina da kuma yin watsi da }a’idojin addini sun sa an yi fatali da kyakkyawar tarbiyya. Mu a nan Nijeriya, sai a da]e ba ka ji wani ya kashe mahaifin sa ko uwar sa ko kuma shi kan sa ba, kuma idan har irin hakan ya faru mutane su kan yi matu}ar al’ajabi tare da tsananin fargaba. Akan dubi wanda ya aikata irin wannan ta’asar a matsayin dabba mai sunan mutum.

Dalilin da aka ce Bello ya bayar na yin kisan duk shirme ne, kuma kame-kame ne na mutumin da }wa}walwar sa ta ta~u. Don an kore shi daga jami’a inda ya ke karatu ba hujja ba ce da ke nuna cewa rayuwar sa ta zo }arshe daga nan; akwai matasa da yawa irin sa, ko ma wa]anda ba su kai shi galihu ba, kuma su kan ci gaba da yin rayuwar su har su more ta a wasu sassan na rayuwar ]an’adam. Haka kuma, ci gaba da rayuwar iyayen sa da ‘yan’uwan sa ba ha}}in sa ba ne. Abincin su da sauran bu}atun su na rayuwa duk su na hannun Maiduka. Tunanin da aka ce ya yi na aikawa da su Barzahu don kautar da su daga fa]awa cikin fatara da yunwa, sam, ba ya cikin tunani nagari.

Da farko, Bello ya amince da aikata laifin, domin an gabatar da shi a gaban manema labarai inda ya amince ]in. To amma daga bisani dai labarin ya fara sauyawa. Ran Alhamis ta makon jiya, wani kawun Bello ya yi i}irarin cewa ba Bellon ba ne ya aikata ta’asar, wai jami’an tsaro ne su ka tilasta masa har ya yi wancan furucin. Sannan shi ma Bello, da aka kai shi kotu ran Litinin da ta wuce, ya musanta zargin cewa shi ne ya yi kisan. To yanzu dai ya rage ruwan kotu ta yanke hukunci kan wannan sabon zancen. To amma mu a namu ~angaren, maganar farko da aka yi ta sa tilas mu tsaya tsayin daka, mu sake duban irin ri}on da mu ke yi wa matasan mu. Irin wannan ta’asar fa ta na faruwa a }asar nan, ko da ba ta kai zurfin wannan ta Kanon da ake magana ba: sai ka ji an ce wani yaro ya kashe uban sa ko uwar sa a kan wani ]an sa~ani da bai taka kara ya karya ba. Ko kwanan nan, irin haka ta faru a Jihar Katsina, inda wani ya da~a wa uban sa wu}a, ya aika da shi lahira. A makon jiya ma, a Legas, an kwata irin wannan, inda wani ya kashe uban sa. A yau Juma’ar nan ma da mu ke magana, jaridar Aminiya ta ruwaito yadda wani ma’aikacin kurkuku ya kashe ‘ya’yan sa tagwaye.

Sau da yawa, ba mu damu ba idan mun ji an yi irin wannan ta’asar, a tunanin mu ai ba mu abin ya shafa kai-tsaye ba. Mun manta da cewa a gidan wasu ko gidan ma}wabtan su, abu ne mai ciwo ya faru. A koyaushe fa ana yin kisan gilla a }asar nan, wanda ya kan haifar da ciwo a zukata da dama. Rayuwa su na ta salwanta a yayin da rigingimu ke }aruwa. Ga dai fashi da makami da kuma rikicin addini, wanda duk su na cin rayuka masu yawa. Ana kisan kai ma a harkar siyasa, inda wasu ‘yan siyasar da ke gaba da junan su su kan yi hayar ‘yan iskan gari, wa]anda yawanci matasa ne, don su halaka abokan gabar su. Wata sa’a, jami’in gwamnati za ka ji an kashe, wato kamar jami’in EFCC ]in nan da aka bindige a gidan sa a Kaduna a ran Litinin ta makon jiya. Wata sa’a kuma, ‘yan jarida ake kashewa, kamar dai Bayo Ohu na jaridar The Guardian.

Dole ne mu tashi tsaye cikin hanzari mu samo maganin matsalar. Iyaye ne ya kamata su fara ]aukar mataki na farko wajen cusa tarbiyya a rayuwar ‘ya’yan su tun sun a }anana. Tarbiyya daga gida ta kan fara. Hausawa dai na cewa icce tun ya na }arami ake tan}wara shi. A wannan zamanin, sai ka ga iyaye da dama – musamman ma mazan – ba su da lokacin kula da abin da ke faruwa a gidajen su, su na can su na neman abinci ko }arin dukiya. Na biyu, tilas ne gwamnati ta ri}a sauke nauyin da ya rataya a wuyan ta na samar da ilimi mai nagarta da kuma aikin yi ga matasa. Tun tuni harkar ilimi ta zaganye, makarantu sun zama abin da su ka zama, ba su iya amfanar da al’umma kamar yadda ya kamata, domin ko da yaro ya gama karatun sai ka ga zu}u ne kawai ya yi ko mu ce karatun aku. Don haka sai ya kasa samun aiki. Idan kuwa har babu nagartaccen ilimi, sai matasan mu su kasance ba su ]aukuwa a wuraren aiki, wanda hakan kan sa su zama abin nema ga muggan mutane masu ba}ar niyya.

A yau, matasan mu sun raja’a ga bin munanan halaye, ciki kuwa har da shaye-shaye ko kallon hotuna da finafinan batsa. Kuma a }o}arin su na samun abin sakawa a bakin salati, sai su koma su na aikata laifuffuka da kuma nau’o’in karuwanci. Ba mu damu da abin da su ke karantawa a wasu littattafai da mujallu ko intanet ba, ko abin da su ke gani a cikin wasu finafinan, ko kuma abin da su ke saurare a wasu wa}o}in.

A yayin da hakan ke faruwa, shugabannin mu su na can su kuma su na wawure dukiyar }asar. Sai ka ga fatara da yunwa na }aruwa a yayin da ake tafka cin hanci da rashawa. Hakan na }ara haifar da yawaitar muggan laifuffuka. Sakamakon duk wannan su ne irin munanan abubuwan da ba mu so mu gani da idon mu ko mu ji da kunnen mu. Abin takaicin ma shi ne, ba mu so a ]ora mana laifin kasawar da mu ka yi. To amma ita gaskiya, gaskiya ce, kuma dole mu fuskance ta. Sannan idan mun dubi fuskar ta, sai mu kau da kai domin ba kyakkyawar sura gare ta saboda yadda mu ka bari ta munana. Da ma Hausawa sun ce wanda bai }i ji ba, ba zai }i gani ba.

Wai da sunan ’yancin addini!

A makon ba a ji irin ta ba. Wai so ya yi a yi gangamin }ona Al}ur'ani mai tsarki a ranar Asabar da ta gabata. Tun lokacin da faston ya bayyana wannan }udiri nasa a dandalin duniya na intanet (a shafin Facebook), da sunan “Ranar Babbaka Al}ur’ani ta Duniya”, aka shiga musayar miyau kan al’amarin a ko'ina a fa]in duniya. Shi dai wannan bidiri, wata }aramar majami'a ce mai suna Dove World Outreach Centre da ke garin Gainesville da ke jihar Florida ta }asar Amerika ce ta shirya shi, a }ar}ashin fasto mai suna Rabaran Terry Jones, a matsayin tunawa da kewayowar ranar harin }unar Ba}in Wake ]in nan da aka kai wa Amurka da jiragen sama a watan Satumba 2001. Kowa ya zuba ido ya ga abin da zai wakana, amma kwatsam, a ranar Alhamis ta makon jiya sai fasto Jones ya bayyana ]age taron.

Wannan ]agewa da ya yi ta sa Musulmi a fa]in duniya sun yi ajiyar zuci, sun yi murna, to amma kuma sun ji haushin kasawar da faston ya yi. Sun yi murna domin hakan ya sa an kauce wa faruwar wata fitina da ba a san inda za ta tsaya ba in ta tashi, sun kuma ji haushi saboda gangamin na Jones ashe soki-burutsu ne, kuma wata hanya ce ta neman suna. Duk da haka, Musulmi sun fahimci cewa soke gangamin ya }ara nusasshe mu da al}awarin da Allah (SWT) Ya yi a cikin littafin Sa mai tsarki cewa Shi mai karewa ne ga wannan Littafi a koyaushe.

Ba Musulmi ka]ai ba ne su ka yi murna da ]age gangamin }ona Al}ur'anin. Hatta Kiristoci da Yahudawa sun yi murna, domin kusan kowannen su ya yi tir da yun}urin da faston ]an shekara 58 ya yi. A gaskiya, babu wani Kiristan kirki da zai goyi bayan irin wannan aika-aikar. Dalili shi ne, duk da yake Musulmi da Kirista sun bambanta matu}a kan manyan ginshi}an addinan su, amma su na girmama junan su, musamman ma a wannan zamani da duniyar ta }an}ance, ta zama tamkar wani ]an }aramin }auye inda kowa ya san kowa, sannan jama’a mabambantan addinai su na rayuwa tare a cikin gari ]aya ko }asa ]aya. Jones dai ya yi }aurin sunan da ya so ya yi, to amma kama tun daga fadar Fafaroma zuwa fadar shugaban Amurka har zuwa kan jarumar finafinai Angelina Jolie babu wanda bai yi Allah-wadai da shi ba. Daga birnin Montreal na }asar Kanada har zuwa Nijeriya babu wanda bai yi kira a gare shi da kada ya kuskura ya tafka wannan shirmen nasa ba.

An yi zanga-zangar nuna rashin amincewa a }asashe da su ka ha]a da Afghanistan da Pakistan da Indonesiya. Fadar Fafaroma ta ce Kiristoci “ba su amince da wannan gagarumar ~arnar da ake shirin yi kan littafin da mabiya wani addini su ka amince da cewa mai tsarki ba ne.” Wani shugaban Kirista a Lahore, babban birnin Pakistan, wato Achibishop Lawrence John, ya bayyana }udirin Jones da cewa ya “sa~a wa girmamawar da mu ke yi wa dukkan addinai kuma bai yi daidai da a}ida da kuma karantarwar addinin mu ba.” Shugaban Kiristocin }asar Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, ya ce barazanar gangamin }ona littafi mai tsarkin “bayyanannen sa~ani ne ga karantarwar addinan nan uku da su ka samo tsatso daga jinin Annabi Ibrahim da kuma bu}atar daraja juna a tsakanin su.” Addinan dai su ne addinin Yahudanci (Judaism), da Kiristanci da kuma Musulunci.

A birnin Washington na Amurka, shugabannin addinai daban-daban sun yi babban taro a cibiyar ’yan jarida ta }asa inda su ka yi kira ga mabiyan addinai da su ha]u su yi bataliyar yin artabu da “fargaba da rashin ha}uri” da ake nuna wa Musulunci. Shi kuma tsohon babban limamin cocin Katolika na Washington, wato Kadinal Theodore McCarrick, kiran }iyayyar da ake yi wa Musulunci ya yi da sunan “babban lokaci da ke bu}atar babban martani.” Sannan a}alla shugabanni guda 24 na addinai daban-daban da ke kusa da cocin Jones a garin Gainesville sun shirya gudanar da ayyuka don nuna }in gangamin }ona Al}ur’anin. Wani fasto da ke majami’ar United Church ta garin Gainesville ]in, wato Larry Reimer, ya ce Jones “ba ya wakiltar kowa... Abin da ya ke yi babu girmamawa a ciki, sannan babu ruwan Allah a ciki, wanda Shi ne ya ce mu }aunaci junan mu.”

A nata ~angaren, gwamnatin Amurka ta ji tsoron cewa ’ya’yan }asar za su iya shiga wani mugun yanayi a }asashen waje. Shugaba Barack Obama ya bayyana }udirin Jones da cewa zai ba }ungiyar Al}a'ida damar samun }arin membobi. Jami'an gwamnatin sa ma sun yi nuni da hakan. Misali, Janar David Patreaus, wanda shi ne kwamandan sojojin Amurka da ke Afghanistan, ya bayyana wannan ba}ar aniya ta Jones da cewa ita ce “ainihin irin abin da }ungiyar Taliban ta ke amfani da ita kuma za ta jawo mana manyan matsaloli - ba ma a nan }asar ka]ai ba, har ma a sauran sassan duniya inda mu ke mu’amala da al’ummar Musulmi.” Takwaran sa da ke Ira}i ma, Janar Ray Odierno, ya yi garga]in cewa idan har aka ci gaba aka yi wannan gangamin na }ona Al}ur’ani, to babu shakka akwai raddin da zai biyo baya daga Musulmi. Ya ce: “Ina da damuwar cewa hakan zai jawo a kai wa sojojin mu hare-hare.” Ita kuma ministar harkokin waje ta Amurka, Hillary Clinton, ta yi tir da yun}urin ne, ta ce “babban abin kunya” ne.

Idan mun lura, daga kalaman da ke sama, za mu iya fahimtar cewa }udirin fasto Jones bai samu tagomashin sauran Kiristoci ba, don haka ba wai dukkan su ba ne su ka ha]e wa Musulunci kai su ka ce a yi hakan. Kawai wasu tsirarun masu tsattsauran ra’ayi ne su ka shirya abin; hasali ma dai, kwata-kwata mabiyan Jones mutum 50 ne a duk }asar. Na biyu, Jones ya yi amfani da irin damar da kafafen ya]a labarai na Amurka su ke ba ’yan taratsi irin sa ne wajen ya]a manufar sa. Su wa]annan kafafe, da ma haka su ke kambama }an}anin abu, su maida shi }ato; kowane irin shirme aka wurga masu da sunan abin labari ne, sai kawai su ]auka su bi duniya su na yayatawa. In da ba su yayata wannan shirmen na Jones ba, to da shikenan hankalin kowa ba zai tashi ba.
Na uku, shugabannin siyasa na }asashen Turawa sun }i goyon bayan Jones, ba wai kurum don ya sa~a wa karantarwar addinin su ba, har ma saboda yun}urin wannan ja’irin zai iya jefa ’yan }asar su da ke waje cikin ha]ari. Na hu]u, wannan lamarin ya }ara tabbatar mana da cewa tunanin nan da wasu masana ke yi na cewa wata rana za a kwafsa tsakanin }asashen Turawa da Musulunci, har yanzu bai kau ba. Ba shakka, }udirin Jones babbar alama ce da ke nuna cewa mabiya addini masu }iyayya da duk wani addini su na }ara zurfafa }iyayyar su a cikin yun}urin su na ganin bayan ]aya addinin. Idan kuwa haka ne, ashe akwai babban aiki a gaban masu }o}arin ganin an samu fahimtar juna da zaman lumana a tsakanin addinai mabambanta.

A gaskiya, a }asashen Turawa ne ka]ai, musamman ma a Amurka - inda duk abin da aka ce maka zai yiwu, to zai yiwu - ake samun wani wanda ake ganin babban mutum ne a }asar ya shirya irin wannan aika-aikar har a saurare shi. Amma abin tambaya shi ne, me ya sa hukumomin Amurka ba su yi }o}arin hana shirmen Jones ba maimakon su tsaya su na ba shi magana? Na san amsar da za a ba ni ita ce ai wannan coci na garin Gainesville ya na da dama, a }ar}ashin tsarin mulkin }asar, ya yi abin da ya ga dama bisa ’yancin yin addini. Lokacin da Jones ya ce ya soke gangamin }ona Al}ur’anin, ya yi }o}arin danganta yun}urin sa da wani yun}urin da wasu Musulmi su ke yi na gina masallaci a harabar wurin da aka kai hare-haren jiragen saman nan a cikin 2001. Wannan ba wani abu ba ne illa }o}arin yi wa Musulmi tarna}i na ba gaira ba dalili, domin kuwa ai gina masallaci a wurin ba wula}anta addinin Kirista ba ne. Ni a ra’ayi na, bai zama ma dole a gina masallaci a wurin ba; dalili: yin hakan zai }ara gur~ata dangantaka da ’yan }asar wa]anda ke kallon wurin a matsayin wata fuska ta tsantsar Amerikanci, kuma zai zafafa dangantaka a tsakanin addinai. Kamar yadda Obama ya fa]a, gina masallacin bai sa~a wa doka ba to amma ba lallai ba ne a ce ya dace - wato kamar yadda wani jami’in fadar White House mai suna David Axelrod ya ce lokacin da ya ke tarfa yawun bakin sa kan aniyar Jones, inda ya ce ta yiwu Jones “ya na da ’yancin yin hakan. Amma abin tambaya shi ne ko hakan ya dace.”

A yanzu dai akwai alamun cewa wannan hayaniya ta Jones ta wuce, to amma fa kada mu yi sake. Har yanzu akwai sauran rina a kaba domin kuwa akwai mutane masu ra'ayi irin nasa da yawa a Amurka, kai har ma a Nijeriya. Ya kamata }asashen Turawa su sake yin nazarin dokar su ta ba da cikakken ’yancin addini. Tsaron lafiyar jama’a ha}}i ne da ya rataya a wuyan gwamnati. Idan har abin da Jones ya yi }o}arin aikatawa barazana ce ga tsaron Amurka kamar yadda masu magana su ka fa]a, shin wannan bai zama kamar ya na karya dokar Amurka ba kenan? Shin ba akwai Musulmi masu yawa ba da ke tsare a }iri}irin tsibirin Gwantanamo kawai bisa zargin sun yi abin barazana ga bu}atun Amurka?
Kyakkyawar aniyar nan ta Obama ta rage rashin jituwar da ke tsakanin }asashen yammaci da addinin Musulunci ta na samun barazana daga mutane masu tsattsauran ra’ayi irin su Jones. Barin irin wa]annan mutanen su na ya]a }iyayyar su ya sa~a wa }udirorin da Obama ya ta~a zayyanawa a gagarumin jawabin da ya yi a jami’ar Al-Azhar ta Misira lokacin da ya hau mulki. Shi ’yancin yin addini, kamar kowane ’yanci, ya na fa da iyakoki; ’yanci ne da ya ba ka damar ka yi addinin ka, amma bai ba ka damar ka hana wani yin nasa addinin ba. {ona Al}ur’ani - wanda hakan ya nuna tsananin }iyayya ne - ya na nufi a hana Musulmi su gudanar da addinin su, ta hanyar wula}anta addinin su, da tsoratar da su da kuma muzanta su. Wasu ’yan tsirarun masu tsattsauran ra’ayi ba su da ’yancin yin duk wani abu da zai iya jawo ramuwar gayyar da za ta yi sanadiyyar salwantar rayukan wasu wa]anda ba su ji ba ba su gani ba.

Ya kamata kuma mu fahimci cewa in da wannan ta’asar ta yi nasara, to za ta iya bazuwa a wasu }asashen wa]anda ba ruwan su da haukan da aka kitsa a Gainsville. Ko yanzu ]in ma, maganganun sa~o da Jones ya ri}a furzaswa kan Musulunci ya ba}anta ran Musulmi da yawa, musamman ma da yake cikin Ramadan ya ri}a yin su, wato wata mafi tsarki a Musulunci. Shi fa Jones, wanda ba ya wakiltar Amurka ko addinin Kirista, bai damu ba idan wani ya mutu a sanadiyyar shirmen da ya tafka. Shi da kan sa ya nuna hakan lokacin da ya fa]a wa gidan talabijin na ABC cewa wai “abin ba}in ciki ne” idan ko da ran mutum ]aya ya salwanta a dalilin wannan abu, “to amma duk da haka, mu ba mu damu da cewa laifin mu ba ne.” Don Allah, Amurka kada ki bari mutane irin wa]annan su na aikata abin da su ka ga dama wai da sunan ’yancin yin addini.

Matasa da tashin-tashina

Ba tun yau ba aka san cewa ]aya daga cikin manyan matsalolin Nijeriya shi ne rashin aikin yi, sannan wannan matsalar ta na ba da gudunmawa ga tashe-tashen hankula na }abilanci da na addini a cikin ’yan shekarun nan. A makon jiya, wani muhimmin rahoto da cibiyar ya]a al’adun }asar Birtaniya, wato British Council, ta ]auki nauyin yin sa ya yi garga]in cewa idan har Nijeriya ba ta samar da guraben aikin yi guda miliyan 25 a cikin shekaru 10 masu zuwa ba, to, tashe-tashen hankula da matasan mu ke yi za su }aru matu}a. Idan har mu ka yi kunnen uwar shegu da wannan rahoton, kaicon mu!

Wasu manyan ’yan Nijeriya wa]anda su ka ha]a da tsofaffin ministoci da kuma masanan harkokin tattalin arzikin }asa, irin su Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Frank Nweke Jr., Lami]o Ado Bayero, Donald Duke, Pat Utomi da Maryam Uwais, su ne su ka yi bincike su ka rubuta rahoton mai suna “The Next Generation Nigeria”. Haka kuma wasu masanan daga Amerika da Ingila sun taka rawar gani wajen ha]a rahoton. A ranar Larabar makon jiya aka yi taron }addamar da shi a Abuja. Tsohon Ministan Ya]a Labarai, Mista Frank Nweke, Jnr., shi ne ya karanta gundarin abin da rahoton ya }unsa a gaban jama’a. Ya ce rahoton ya gano cewa Nijeriya ta na fuskantar “barazanar yawan jama’a” saboda rashin aikin yi tsakanin matasa. Rahoton ya }ididdige cewa yawan mutanen Nijeriya zai }aru daga mutum miliyan 150 da ke akwai yanzu, da }arin mutum miliyan 63 ya zuwa shekarar 2050. Hakan zai sa Nijeriya ta kasance ta biyar a cikin }asashen da su ka fi yawan jama’a a duniya. Rahoton ya hango cewa kashi 40 cikin ]ari na ’yan Nijeriya matasa ne, wanda hakan zai sa a samu }arin ]imbin masu bu}atar aikin yi a nan gaba.
Wannan rahoto dai ya nuna cewa yawan mutanen Nijeriya ya ninka a cikin shekaru ashirin da su ka gabata, wanda ya saka }asar cikin mayuwacin hali idan har ba a dage wajen gyaran koma]ar tattalin arziki ba. Ya ce, “Samun ]imbin matasa marasa aikin yi yakan jefa al’umma cikin halin }a}a-ni-ka-yi, ta hanyar yawaitar aikata laifuffuka da kuma samar da yanayin da zai jawo tashin-tashina. Duk }asar da ba ta shirya wa yin amfani da albarkar yawaitar matasan ta ba, za ta samu kan ta cikin fitinar yawan jama’a, maimakon ta ci moriyar hakan.”

Idan mun lura, wannan rahoton bai tsaya kai da fata kan cewa bala’i ka]ai ya hango ba, a’a, ya ba mu shawarwari kan hanyoyin da za mu bi don kauce wa bala’i. Ya yi la’akalari da cewa za a iya amfani da matasa don gina }asa, tare da nuna cewa matasan mu su ne albarka mafi girma da Nijeriya ta ke da ita, ba man fetur ba. Ya ce: “Matasa su ne albarka mafi girma a }asa, ba fetur ba, a cikin }arni na 21. Idan }asar ta ci gaba da aiwatar da shirye-shiryen tattalin arziki kamar yadda ta ke yi a yanzu, ta inganta harkar ilimi, ta samar da ayyukan yi, to, kowane ]an Nijeriya zai iya samun ninkin arzikin sa har sau uku kafin shekara ta 2030, sannan sama da mutum miliyan 30 za su fice daga }angin fatara.”

Rahoton ya ba da shawarar cewa tilas ne }asar mu ta fito da tsari mai kyau don samar da aikin yi a shekaru masu zuwa. Ya ce: “Idan Nijeriya ta kasa yin tsari don inganta rayuwar matasa a nan gaba, za ta fuskaci manyan matsaloli da za su ~ullo a dalilin yawaitar matasa masu jin haushin cewa ba su da aikin yi. Saboda haka za su iya zama wani abu da zai kawo barazana ga zaman lumana a }asar.”

A gaskiya, rashin aikin yi a tsakanin matasan }asar nan ya zama abin ban-tsoro a yau. Gwamnati ta ce wai kashi 20 cikin ]ari na matasan ne ba su da aikin yi, amma duk mai hankali ya san cewa zai kai kashi har 60 cikin ]ari, musamman da yake yawancin masana’antu sun ruguje, sannan bankuna su na ta korar ma’aikata. Na kan ji zafi matu}a idan yaran da su ka gama jami’a ko wata babbar kwaleji su ka same ni don in taimaka in sama masu aiki. Babu aikin. A shekarun baya, lokacin duniya ta na kwance lafiya, ma’aikatu neman matasa su k yi don su ba su aiki. Musamman za ka ga kamfanoni su na zuwa jami’o’i da kwalejoji, su na ]aukar sunayen ]aliban da su ka kusa fita daga makaranta domin su ba su aiki da zarar sun }are. Hakan ta faru kafin zuwan tsarin tsuke bakin aljihu (SAP), da cikin hanci da rashawa, da kuma dur}ushewar tattalin arziki na duniya. Duniya juyi-juyi, kwa]o ya fa]a cikin ruwan zafi.

Babban ofishin }ididdiga na }asa (FOS) ya bayyana cewa yawancin marasa aikin yi, a biranen mu su ke. Sannan wani rahoto da Bankin Duniya ya wallafa ya ce yawancin matasa marasa aikin yi da wa]anda su ka gama makarantar sakandare ne. Ga kuma ]imbin jama’a a karkara su na zaman warabbuka, ba abin yi sai kame-kame da kunge-kunge.
A gani na, ba sai an bi tsarin }ayyade iyali ba don kurum a rage yawan ’yan Nijeriya, kamar yadda rahoton British Council ya ce a yi. Dubi }asar Chaina mana, wadda ta fi kowace }asa yawan jama’a. Chaina, mai mutum biliyan 1.3, har ta zarce Japan wajen }arfin tattalin arziki, ta zama ta biyu a duniya (bayan Amerika). Ita ma Indiya, mafi yawan jama’a ta biyu a duniya, haka ne. Me ya sa? Dalili shi ne su na da shugabanni masu son ci-gaban jama’ar su, ba wawura ba ko bin tsarin }asashen Turawa.
Ai jama’a albarka ce. Kada mu ji tsoro don jama'ar mu na }ara yawa. Dalili shi ne mu na da albarkatun }asa masu tarin yawa da za a iya amfani da su wajen ciyar da }asar mu gaba. Duk inda ka waiga a Nijeriya, ba abin da idon ka zai gane maka sai albarkatu iri-iri. Tun daga sararin samaniya mai cike da hasken rana, har zuwa }asar noma mai dausayi wadda ke }unshe da ma’adinai, ga dabbobi, suke-shuke, mai, da sauran su, sannan ga jama’a masu ji da lafiyar jiki, masu ilimi da son aiki tu}uru. To, amma matsalar mu ita ce ba a yin amfani da wa]annan albarkatun ta hanyar da ta dace. Ana banzatar da su ne. Mu na da yawaitar ~arayi masu sace albarkatun don kurum Allah Ya ]ora su a kai, sannan su na amfani da jama’ar - musamman matasa - wajen ayyukan assha, irin su karuwanci da kuma rikicin addini ko }abilanci.

Shugabannin mu sun yi watsi da aikin noma, sun maida hankali ga man fetur, wanda ya sa sun kasa fahimtar alfanun da ke }unshe jingim cikin sauran albarkatun da Allah Ya ba }asar nan. Ba su ba harkar ilimi muhimmanci, wadda ita ce }ashin bayan gina }asa mai nagarta. Muguwar fa]uwar da ’yan makaranta su ka yi a jarabawar WAEC kwanan nan hujja ce da ke nuna cewa shugabannin mu ba su tunanin abin da ya dace da ci-gaban }asa. Hujja ce da ke nuna irin ha]arin da mu ke fuskanta - wato ta al’umma marasa ilimi ko makamar aiki, wadda za ta iya jawo rigingimu a }asa a kowane lokaci.
Rahoton na British Council ya kuma gano wani abu da ya kamata shugabannin Arewa su sani: wato duk da yake an san cewa har yanzu jahilci }aruwa ya ke yi, tazarar da ke tsakanin sashin Kudu da na Arewa na }asar nan ya na }ara }aruwa ne. ’Ya’yan Arewa sun fi samun shiga makaranta fiye da na Arewa.

Barazanar cewa rigima ta na nan tafe sai }aruwa ta ke yi a yayin da za~en 2011 ya ke }aratowa. Rashin aikin yi ya }aru saboda dur}ushewar da masana’antu su ka yi a sanadiyyar rashin wutar lantarki. Hakan ya sa a yau akwai bataliyoyin matasa marasa aikin yi, su na jiran kawai a ]auke su aikin tada husuma. Masu ]aukar su aikin rigimar ba wasu ba ne illa shugabannin mu wa]anda su ka wawuri dukiyar jama’a kuma za su yi amfani da ita don za~en ta hangar }arfi.

Abin ban-haushi, maimakon ka ji ana maganar samun ’yan takarar da za su magance manyan matsalolin }asar nan irin su rashin aikin yi, an koma kawai ana cacar baki kan tsarin kar~a-kar~a na PDP. Manufar wannan tsari fa kawai wanene zai zama shugaban }asa, kuma daga ina ya fito, ba wanene zai yi }o}arin magance ]imbin matsalolin }asar nan ba.

An buga a jaridar LEADERSHIP HAUSA

Saturday, 11 September 2010

In The Name Of Religious Freedom

Until the cancellation of the event two days ago, the first known formal burning of the holy Qur'an would have taken place today. The world had been in tenterhooks ever since the event was first announced on Facebook recently with a page entitled "International Burn A Qur'an Day." The event, organised by a"small" church known as the Dove World Outreach Centre, based in Gainesville,Florida, was led by a 58-year-old minister, Rev. Terry Jones, to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. The cancellation came both as a relief and a disappointment to many Muslims; relief because a potential disaster of unknown magnitude had been averted, and disappointment in the sense that Jones' threat had turned out to be hollow, a stunt-maker's publicity-seeking gimmick. For many Muslims, however, the cancellation was an affirmation of Allah's promise in the same holy scripture that He will always protect His Book.

It was not only Muslims that heaved a sigh of relief. Jones had generated a swathe of condemnation from Muslims, Christians and Jews from across the globe. No Christian in his right senses will support a project of such dubious intent. Even though Christians and Muslims differ on many key articles of faith, most hold each other with respect, especially in a world which has since shrunk into a global village, and nations are multi-religious. Jones had got his 15 minutes of fame, yes, but from the Vatican to the White House and actress Angelina Jolie, and from Montreal to Nigeria, the outcry is the same: don't do it, Terry.

There were demonstrations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia. The Vatican said they "cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community." Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha of Lahore, Pakistan, described Jones' plan as "contrary to the respect owed all religions and against our doctrine and faith." Lebanon's Christian president, Michel Suleiman, said the book-burning threat was "in clear contradiction to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions and of dialogue among the three faiths".

In Washington, leaders of a range of faiths came together at the National Press Club calling for a united religious front against "fear and intolerance" aimed at Islam. The former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick,called the anti-Muslim furore a "powerful moment that calls for a powerful response." At least 24 inter-faith leaders near Jones' church planned activities to adamantly reject the burning. Larry Reimer, a pastor at the United Church of Gainesville, said Jones "represents virtually no one... It's disrespectful and has nothing to do with God who tells us to love one another."

The U.S. government feared for its citizens around the world. President Barack Obama described Jones' crazy plan as a "recruitment bonanza" for al-Qaeda. His top aides echoed this observation. U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Patreaus called it "precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems - not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community." His counterpart in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno,warned that if the burning went ahead, there would be some backlash. "I worry that it will turn into violence against our troops." And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the plan as "disgraceful".

From the foregoing, one can deduce that Jones' project was not supported by other Christians, so it was not a general anti-Islam push. It was an isolated case of a few bigots - Jones' congregation consists of only 50 parishioners. Secondly, Jones had capitalised on the western media's penchant for gobbling up any trash thrown at them as newsworthy. The world would have been a more secure place had this madness not been overblown. Thirdly, western political leaders are against the proposal not only because it was against their own religious values but also because it could put their citizens in harm's way abroad. Fourthly, the fabled "clash of civilisations" is not about to be averted.

Indeed, Jones' plan represented a fresh big thrust in evangelical fundamentalism whereby some believers on each side of the divide campaign for the obliteration of the other. This means that the task of interfaith dialogue and harmony is becoming more difficult.

It is only in the west, and specifically in America - the land of possibilities,where everything is possible - that such a spectacle could be meticulously organised by a supposedly establishment figure. The question is why the U.S. authorities didn't go beyond reasoning with Jones and try to stop the insane event. Well, the answer I expect to get is that the Gainsville church has the constitutional right to exercise its religious freedom. In cancelling his madness, Jones drew a connection between what he was trying to do and the attempt by some Muslims to build a mosque on the spot where the 9/11 tragedy occurred. This blackmail is fatuous, because building a mosque there does not constitute a sacrilege against Christianity. Personally, I don't support the idea of building that mosque; reason: it hurts nationalists who erroneously consider Ground Zero a symbol of Americanism. As Obama said, building the mosque is legal but not necessarily right - the same thing White House advisor David Axelrod said when he stated that Jones "may have a right to do it. The question is whether it's right."

The Jones saga may appear to be over, but we shouldn't be complacent. There are many other Joneses out there, even in Nigeria. Western governments should revisit their concept of religious freedom. A government is responsible for securing people's lives. If what Jones tried to do threatened American security as all those commentators argued, didn't that show that he was breaking American law in a way? Are many Muslims not being detained at Guantanamo Bay because they are suspected of threatening America's interests?

Obama's good intentions in bridging the gap between the west and Islam are threatened by bigots like Jones. Allowing such fellows to practise their hate is against the grain of Obama's Al-Azhar Declaration. Religious freedom, like all freedoms, has a limit; it should be freedom to practice your religion, and not to stop others from practising theirs. Burning the Qur'an - an expression of extreme hatred - constitutes an act of stopping Muslims from practising their religion through desecration, intimidation and denigration. A hand ful of extremists have no right to do something that might unleash a possible backlash that could consume innocent lives.

We should appreciate that this issue could have snow balled in lands that had nothing to do with the Gainsville madness. Already, the provocative statements spewed by Jones have hurt many Muslims deeply, more so as they were circulated during Ramadan, Islam's holiest month. Jones, who represents neither America nor mainstream Christianity, did not care if anyone died as a result of his ill-informed action. He acknowledged it would be "tragical" if so much as one person died as a result of this, "but at the same time, we do not feel responsible for that," he told ABC. Please, America, don't allow folks like him to do what they like in the name of religious freedom.


Published in LEADERSHIP WEEKEND today

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Of Youths And Violence

It is virtually old school to offer the worn-out truism that one of the greatest problems confronting Nigeria is the soaring unemployment rate or that the situation has been a key contributor to the incessant communal violence in the country in recent years. What is new is a powerful message from a British Council-sponsored report which warns that unless Nigeria creates about 25 million jobs over the next 10 years, youth violence shall increase tremendously. We can only ignore the report entitled "The Next Generation" at our peril. It was the result of a survey conducted by an independent panel of respected Nigerian experts that included economists and former ministers such as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Frank Nweke Jr., Lamido Ado Bayero, Donald Duke, Pat Utomi and Maryam Uwais. The Harvard School of Public Health led the team that carried out the study, which also involved teams drawn from universities in Nigeria, USA and the UK.

Former minister of information Frank Nweke, Jnr., who is the director-general of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, said during the presentation of the report on Wednesday that Nigeria faces a "demographic disaster" due to youth unemployment. Estimates in the report show that Nigeria's population of 150 million people will swell by another 63 million by 2050, making it the fifth most populous country in the world. With more than 40% of the nation's population younger than 14, the report predicts, the country could have a ready supply of workers into the future. But the problem is that Nigeria's gross domestic product remains flat and jobs scarce.
The British Council report notes that Nigeria's population multiplied in the last two decades, leaving it dangerously out of balance unless true economic development takes hold.

"Large cohorts of unemployed or underemployed young people destabilize their societies, fuelling crime and creating conditions where civil conflict becomes more likely. Instead of collecting a dividend, a country that is not well prepared to make the most of its Baby Boom generation can find itself in the midst of a demographic disaster."

Happily, however, one can see an “if” in the report. It does not just paint a grim picture without proffering suggestions on how to get out of the dark tunnel. It fully recognises the potential of the youths as an instrument for doing good and gives a conditionality for averting the looming catastrophe: the youths are Nigeria's greatest future asset, not crude oil which contributes 40% to the national GDP but only employs 0.15% of the population. "Youths, not oil, will be the country's most valuable resource in the 21st century," it says. "If the country continues on its recent economic growth rate, improves education, health standard, and creates jobs, the average Nigerian could be three times richer by 2030, and over 30 million people will be lifted out of poverty."

The report recommends that the country should get its act together and plan well on the provision of jobs in the coming years. It says: "If Nigeria fails to plan for its next generation it faces serious problems as a result of growing numbers of young people frustrated by a lack of jobs and opportunities. They could be a force for instability and social unrest."

There is no gainsaying the youth unemployment in this country has assumed an alarming rate. Government places the level of joblessness at 20%, but the reality is that it could be as high as 60%, with collapsing industries and the downsizing in the banking sector. It pains me whenever university and college graduates meet me to ask how I can help them get jobs. In the good old days, jobs were offered on a platter of gold to would-be graduates. Corporate bodies would camp out on campuses, taking names of final-year students. Of course, those were the days before the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), appalling corruption, mismanagement of resources, and the global economic meltdown.

Today, the story is sad. The Federal Office of Statistics says that most of the unemployed in Nigeria are city dwellers. And according to a World Bank report, secondary-school graduates are the principal fraction of the unemployed, accounting for nearly 35% to 50%. The rate of unemployment within the age group of 20 to 24 years is 40% and between 15 to 19 years it is 31%. Under-employed farm labour, described in the report as disguised unemployed, makes the rural unemployment figures less accurate than those for urban unemployment. Almost two-thirds of the unemployed rural population are secondary-school graduates.

I disagree with an aspect of the British Council report which suggests that Nigeria's government should offer "family planning" services to slow its population growth. The world's largest and most populous country, China, with a population of over 1.3 billion people, and India, the second most populous, are both economically more viable than Nigeria. Recently, China overtook Japan as the world's second largest economy by both nominal GDP ($4.99 trillion in 2009) and by purchasing power parity ($8.77 trillion in 2009). The reason is that each of these countries has a responsible leadership whose focus is economic sovereignty, not enslavement to the Bretton Woods institutions.

I believe that a nation rich in huge natural resources should not ordinarily fear any surge in its population. Indeed, an increase in population should be a welcome development because human resource is a force to be reckoned with in developmental projections. The reason our demographics tend to frighten development experts and appear to spell doom for our future is that our country's resources are being misapplied. Almost everything one can see in Nigeria is a rich resource - from the wide, sunlit skies to the agricultural soil with its huge water reservoirs, animals, crops, oil and other minerals to the healthy, hardworking and enterprising human populace. But almost all of these are misused or underutilised. The material resources are stolen by incurably corrupt individuals with access to those resources, and the populace - especially the youths - are deployed for unwholesome deeds, from prostitution to social violence.

Our leaders have abandoned agriculture. Their obsession with oil has made them incapable of seeing beyond their noses to appreciate the greater potential of other resources our country is endowed with. Education, which should provide a bedrock for the building of a conscientious, self-reliant young population, has been put on the back burner. The recent mass failure in WAEC exams is a pointer to our leaders' lack of seriousness and vision. It underlines the real danger we are facing - an undereducated population without skills, capable of unleashing havoc at any time.
The British Council report also found out something that should interest leaders in the North: even though the illiteracy rate remains high as the education gap grows wider between the North and the South, children have access to better schooling in the South compared to those in the North.

Indeed, at present, the potential for violence increases as the 2011 elections draw nearer. Due to the electricity conundrum, most of the industries have collapsed. There is a large army of the unemployed, ready to be hired for any type of job in order to eat from the crumbs of those members of the privileged class milking the nation dry. In 2011, we must elect leaders for the pertinent issues, with a clear agenda of how to confront development challenges such as unemployment.

Sadly, however, no one is talking about such issues in the run-up to the polls. All we hear is zoning, which is all about who becomes the next president and where he comes from, rather than what he could do to tackle the nation's multifarious problems.

Published in LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, Saturday, 04 September 2010

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Rabo: Pursuing The Pursuer

Wednesday, 01 September 2010

In this piece, ABDULAZIZ ABDULAZIZ writes on the recent case of an alleged illicit sex affair between the director general of Kano State Censorship Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, and a minor. He raises questions from both ends of the story.

Efforts were allegedly made to 'kill' the story but it stubbornly fizzled out and when it did, it sparked a shocker to many, though some said there was nothing odd about it. However, the proponents of the oddity of the story may have the upper hand, in terms of reasons to cite: the man is exceptionally pious; that is if it can be deduced from facial expression. He was once the next in command at the state’s Sharia implementation agency, Hisbah, derogatorily tagged 'Sharia police'. He pursued filmmakers and other artists in the state as if they are the most devilish of devils. He has disowned them with unprintable words. Therefore, it should naturally be a story when a person with such a profile of Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem is found wanting.

The Story

The story of the scandal, as narrated to LEADERSHIP Interval, goes thus: A patrolling police vehicle was moving along Maiduguri Road on Sunday, August 22, 2010, around 10pm when they sighted a Peugeot car parked in a bushy area by the road's shoulder near Rukayyat House. They beamed a light and the man sped off to escape. The police also accelerated to catch up with him. The police used their vehicle's siren to alert the man to stop but he refused and instead engaged them in car race.

He raced frantically following the eastern by-pass road and through Unguwa Uku quarters with the police trailing him. This made the man with the car to knock down a motorcyclist around Unguwa Uku Shago Tara. He however forged ahead, accelerating the vehicle. The latter incident, which led to inflicting injury on the motorcyclist prompted some commercial motorcyclists, to help the police in trailing the fleeing driver. He was subsequently caught up with.

The angry mob of motorcyclists began to beat up the driver as some aimed at the car, incurring serious damage on the car, before the arrival of the police who dispersed the people and arrested the driver. On reaching the police station at Hotoro Division, the runaway driver identified himself as Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, the director general of the state’s censorship board.

On searching the car, according to a LEADERSHIP source, a young girl was found. Abdulkareem claimed that the girl was his niece and he was coming from his family house when he was trailed. The police at the station demanded that the DG tendered a written statement to that effect. He was released afterwards.

Abdulkareem, LEADERSHIP learnt on good authority, departed for Saudi Arabia a day after the incident. When our correspondent called him last Thursday, on introducing the reason for the call, the chief censor replied; "By Allah, I don't know about it."

However, Abdulkareem had confirmed the story to other journalists with the alteration that the girl was his niece, whom he was conveying from his parents house to his own house. He however appealed to the journalists to let the matter die as exposing it amounts to ridiculing Islam.

His argument, according to a clip of an interview with him obtained by LEADERSHIP, was that the whole drama was a set up to blackmail him by PDP stalwarts in the state who have been looking for a way to eliminate him. He said those people had been meeting for about three weeks, at Shagari quarters, on how to nail him.

According to him, seeing a full beam from an approaching car on that fateful day, he became scared due to the incessant threats he had been getting, he therefore accelerated unconsciously in order to save his life. He denied that it was police that trailed him, saying the police only showed up later.

Rabo admitted that he was booed as a thief to get him to stop, but he continued speeding to get to where he can be saved. He said when the police realized that the girl found with him was his daughter, they released him. The DG lamented that some people were out to cash in on the incident to damage his reputation.

When LEADERSHIP visited Wase Hospital, where Abdulmudallib Jibrin, the injured motorcyclist, was hospitalized, entry access was denied him as he sustained serious injuries on his arm and head. The victim, who is a staff of the state History and Culture Bureau said he could not recall what happened as he was taken to hospital unconsciously.


Contacted for an official position about the saga, Kano State Commissioner of Information, Barrister Haruna Isa Dederi, said the incident was cooked up by Abdulkareem's enemies in the film industry. He said for a long time a group of filmmakers have been fighting the DG to the point of issuing death threats.

However, contrary to LEADERSHIP's findings and Abdulkareem's claim that the young girl with him in the car was his nieces, Dederi said the DG was with his wife and his daughter at the time of the incident. According to him, Abdulkareem had a running stomach and therefore stopped to ease himself in the nearby bush when the police vehicle approached him in full force. Reminded that the DG was pursued by the police with a siren vehicle, the information commissioner said it was not true and that the police was in a private vehicle, not an official one.

Police Investigating

However, the Kano State deputy commissioner of police, Mr Lawan Tanko, confirmed the arrest of the DG. He said the police are investigating the issue to find out why Abdulkareem ran away when pursued by the police. "We want to know what the running was about" DCP Tanko said.

The police top man said the command would unravel the case even as he described it as nothing serious. DCP Tanko also confirmed that the DG has knocked down a motorcyclist while escaping from the trailing policemen.

The ‘Niece’

However, a neighbour of Abdulkareem at his Tarauni residence, who do not want her name in print said the girl is indeed from Abdulkareem's household. She however wondered what the two were doing in a car at such an odd hour in a less populated place, "that is if what I heard was true" she said. The little girl was identified as Fati.

As the story made waves in Kano, many people are still dumbfounded that Malam Rabo could be involved in such a mess. His sympathisers dismissed the story as unfounded but those who have a hatchet to bury with him said the man has never been the saint he claims to be.

Police, in their usual promise, said they are not leaving any stone unturned to unravel the true picture of the incident. Many people see the incident as a turning point not only in Abdulkareem's career, but in that of many of those of his ilk.