The title of today’s article in this column is the title of a lecture that yours sincerely was invited by Nigerian Interreligious Council (NIREC) to deliver as a guest speaker at its two days meeting of February 11 and 12, 2013 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. It was the tradition of NIREC to organize lectures on a quarterly basis to enhance its members’ understanding of the other religion. Thus, as yours sincerely was invited by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to deliver a lecture on ‘Solution to Terrorism’ from Islamic perspective, so was a Professor from the University of Jos invited by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to deliver a similar lecture from Christian perspective.
His Eminence, Dr. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, the Sultan of Sokoto, was present at that meeting as the President General of the NSCIA and Co Chairman of NIREC while Pastor Ayodele Joseph Oritsegbulemi Oritsejafor was also present as the President of CAN and Co Chairman of NIREC. The Governor of Akwa Ibom State at that time was Godswill Akpabio who was also present at the occasion”.
“But surprisingly, an incident occurred on that occasion, which has since remained an indelible scar on the body of NIREC. Shortly before the commencement of the programme, the CAN leaders suddenly came up with a strange demand. They indicated that the delivery of Femi Abbas’ own lecture would not be allowed. And no reason was given. All efforts by the leadership of NSCIA to know the reason why Femi Abbas’ lecture would not be allowed ended in a forlorn as CAN members threatened to walk out of the venue if NSCIA insisted on the presentation of the lecture”.
After a long time of debate and arguments on that strange demand, the NSCIA decided to rest the matter by allowing CAN to have its way if only to avoid sending a wrong signal with dangerous backlash implications to the nation. After all, it would be ridiculous for the NSCIA with its globally acknowledged dignity to join issues with CAN on a frivolous demand. Thus, the Professor from the University of Jos presented his own lecture from Christian perspective while yours sincerely was given the treatment of ‘a chicken in a pond’. If that was not terrorism what other name could it be called? Now, ironically, it is the same CAN that is organizing and coordinating a nationwide Christian walk against terrorism. Is that not laughable? But since no one can give what it does not have, it cannot be surprising that nationwide walk is CAN’s own solution to terrorism.
For five years after that unbridled insult, no NIREC meeting was held until 2018 when another President of CAN emerged in the person of Dr. Supo Ayokunle who has since continued his predecessor’s belligerent propaganda in the name of religion.
Meanwhile, despite the shoddy treatment given to the Muslim wing of NIREC by CAN, it was the latter that still went public on the matter by accusing the NSCIA of blocking NIREC meetings.
But for large- heartedness and magnanimity of His Eminence, the Sultan, NIREC would have been permanently forgotten and probably consigned to the refuse bin of Nigerian history.
Please, read below the contents of the lecture which the CAN, under Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, prevented yours sincerely from presenting for undisclosed reason:
‘Terrorism: Genesis, Causes, Effect and Solution’.
“In Yoruba ancient mythology, a dragon fly dancing on the surface of a stream was believed to symbolize a puzzling omen. But convinced that killing the fly would not remove the omen, the elders in that vicinity consulted an oracle which disclosed that the dancing dragon fly had its drummer beneath the water. Unless that drummer could be identified and stopped from drumming, the dragon fly might continue to frighten the stream water drawers with its puzzling dance ad infinitum”.
“The historical factors that gave rise to terrorism clearly transcend religion. When the first act of terrorism was perpetrated by a Jewish Zealot group, over 2,000 years ago, neither Christianity nor Islam had taken any firm root. Although Prophet Isa (Jesus) had come and gone by then, his divine mission had not effectively reached the Gentile. And Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who later brought Islam to mankind had not been born. If violence alone is what constitutes terrorism as many people wrongly tend to believe, then, it never emanated from religion though religion has sometimes been used as a cover up and blamed for it. No genuine message from Allah ordains or supports violence of any form among human beings.
Therefore, the engendered terrorism by the Jewish Zealots in year 06 CE was rather a violent expression of resentment for the domination of the Jews by the Roman Gentile than a fight between two religions (see Luke 6:15, Acts 1: 13 and Mathew 10: 4 for confirmation in the St. James edition of the Bible). By connotation, that resentment was a resistance to exploitative domination of a culture by another culture. Thus, as it was in the beginning, so it is today.
The Theory of Terrorism
From the brief historical account just given above, it should be clear that terrorism is neither a phenomenon peculiar to the modern time nor a new innovation rooted in religion. And its causes and effects remain the same today as they were some centuries back.
What should be understood about terrorists’ method of operation is that any evil doer will simply look for a justifying reason to indulge in. And it does not matter to them whether such reason is tenable or untenable. And, invariably, the reason often given is one that appeals to people of their like minds at least in the immediate vicinity. This is to elicit sympathy and support of feeble-minded elements around with tendency for roguery. The common denominator among all terrorists is the theory of “using what you have to get what you want”. This theory has a fundamental meaning to all peaceful or violent agitators in their quest for they often call redress against what they perceive as injustice”.
Beyond Boko Haram
“It is not only in Nigeria that some vandals like Boko Haram and Akhwat Akwop are using religion (Islam and Christianity respectively) as cover for terrorism. At least the case of Joseph Kony of Uganda who waged a rebellious war on his country and on Central Africa Republic for decades ‘in the name of Jesus’ can still be vividly remembered. For over two decades of his atrocious operations, that former Catholic altar boy from northern Uganda used Biblical Ten Commandments to execute his terrorist activities with which he recruited thousands of kids into his army and killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent people including women and children indiscriminately.
At least for that calamitous period, Joseph Kony and his over 3,000 heavily armed teenage soldiers that constituted a terror army in the region were a minority group among Ugandan Christians just as the devilish Boko Haram members in Nigeria are a minority group claiming to be Muslims and using Islam as a cover. Yet, Kony’s evil activities did not make him a crusader for God as he claimed neither was Christianity blamed for his satanic activities”.
“Anybody can give any religious or mundane reason to justify any evil activity, according to his or her interpretation of the religion or ideology he claims to profess in order to get what he/she wants. But that does not make such an evil agent a true adherent or representative of his claimed religion or ideology”.
“The concern here is much more about national security, through safety of lives and property than flagrant apportionment of blames through sheer religious sentiment”.
Origin of Atomic Bomb
“In modern time, the origin of using bomb either as a weapon for war or as an instrument for terrorism can be traced back to 1939. In August that year, a German American physicist, Albert Einstein, sent a letter to the then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to hint him of the possibility of discovering a powerful explosive device through the fission of uranium and warned Roosevelt of the danger in allowing other nations to develop it before the US. In response, the U.S. government established the top secret Manhattan Project in 1942 to develop an atomic device. The leader of that Project was a U.S. Army Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves whose team worked in several locations but largely at Los Alamos, New Mexico, under the direction of American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. The team designed and built the first atomic bomb which was test-exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. And that was the weapon used by the US to destroy Japan’s two cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the World War II an incident that brought that war to an abrupt end”.
“Following the above episode, the fear of proliferation of nuclear arsenal compelled the so-called super powers to initiate the idea of Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty which was signed in 1968. By that initiative, virtually all countries of the world besides the known nine nuclear nations formally pledged not to manufacture those weapons. The pledge was made under the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in 1970. The treaty was later ratified by 187 non-nuclear weapon states. Yet, secret proliferation of those weapons remains one of the major causes of terrorism in the world today”.
”The problem concerning terrorism here is not about the signing or breaching of treaty per se. Neither is it about armament reduction. It is rather about some nations’ determination to balance power with rivals. This was the factor that led to the invention of atomic bomb by the US in the first instance. And this factor has now advanced to the stage of balance of terror not only among nations but even more between those perceived as oppressors and certain groups who feel oppressed. Thus, the more the knowledge of developing weapons of mass destruction keeps spreading, and the more the strategy for policing proliferation of nuclear weapons becomes intensified, the more the world is finding it difficult to ventilate a peaceful atmosphere for any confident existence of mankind”.
The Super Power Syndrome
“The lopsidedness created by the super power syndrome has turned the whole world into one massive animal farm in which all animals are supposed to be equal but some are claiming to be more equal than others. This was the kind of situation which forced the former colonies to rebel against their colonizers in various ways in order to become independent. One can imagine what could have happened if other super powers like Russia and China were to be as aggressively bellicose as the US, Britain and France. Arrogance of power is a major propelling force that often instigates terrorism in various parts of the world, which must be shed if terrorism will be sincerely repelled. Today, terrorism has so much become an implacable monster that no single country or clique of power mongers can confront without the cooperation of all other countries. And such cooperation must be on the terms of majority of those other countries and not on master/servant terms”.
“As for internal terrorism which is far more dangerous than the external one, only good governance can curb it and ventilate the atmosphere for peace”.
“No government has ever been able to defeat terrorism by the use of force. Nigeria cannot be an exception. Wherever terrorism is seen to have simmered, diplomacy and dialogue, rather than force, must have played a vital role in its dysfunction. This fact must be considered very seriously. And in finding solution, three major hitherto unfocused areas must now be handled without levity. One is checkmating sources of weapons used by the terrorists. Another is a device for mass employments of the youths. And the third is official regulation of religious propagation in the country to check possible excesses that often breed fanaticism as well as the danger in commercialization of religion. Managing these three areas will definitely make tremendous difference in curbing the spate of violence in the land”.
“Despite our diversity in tongues and faiths in Nigeria, we have managed to come this far to live together in harmony as a people. What remains is the maintenance of that togetherness based on tolerance and compromise. We must not allow religious or tribal sentiments to destroy the house which the Almighty Allah has guided us to jointly build. God bless Nigeria!