“Here is the time against which we had been warned in the guiding admonition of Ubayyi Bn Ka‘b and that of Abdullah Bn Mas‘ud. Here is the time about which we had been told that the truth would totally become repugnant to humanity while falsehood and the act of banditry would become globally deified; Were this time to linger beyond the required endurance of this era, without any change, the situation would reach a stage where no one would grieve over the demise of a relative or rejoice over the birth of a new baby”.
By an Arab Poet
Peace, being a natural serenity that makes provision for innocence, is a unique virtue in the life of man. Its value cannot be measured on the scale of gold or that of silver. Any life without peace is a life without worth.
Peace, in a tempestuously complex society like Nigeria, cannot be by mere chance. Any peaceful stability in such a society can only be by a carefully planned sphere of life with formidable but abstract pillars. Such pillars include endurance, tolerance and mutual respect based on mutual understanding at corporate and private levels. The usual template of peace in any disciplined society is based on experience gained from history.
This article is not new. It was first published in this column in 2012, just three years after a satanically disastrous group of bandits called Boko Haram in Nigeria emerged. The same article was republished recently when some readers called for its repetition because of its relevance to this turbulent time. And, now, a new trend of demand for it is becoming overwhelming on yours sincerely. Incidentally, the current situation seems to have transcended religion alone as Nigeria is now bombarded from all conceivable angles, by all elements of war, without any serious provision for peace.
The Wings of History
History is an invisible object with two invisible wings flying across generations in time and in space. One of those wings is positive while the other is negative. It is only with history that the present becomes the heritage of the past while the future awaits the baton of continuity or otherwise from the present. No living nation or tribe or even individuals can dream of a realizable future without a veritable present based on a memorable experience of the past. The web of life is like a magnet which no iron element can bypass on its way to ornamental glory.
A Fabric of Uncertainty
Today, against what ought to be a valuable heritage, Nigeria is, sadly passing through a fabric of uncertainty as she rolls back the fibres of the future into those of the present and weaves both together into the vestiges of the past. Such is a sign of a dead nation waiting to be interned. What kind of war is not ravaging Nigeria today, in spite of Allah’s abundant bounties? The forces of the present seem to have connived with those of the past to jointly engage in wrestling down the future with a determination to depriving the generations yet unborn of any hope of decent existence.
For decades, Nigeria has been forced by the so-called leaders to engage in political, economic and social warfare without winning any. Now, with a religious dimension coming to join all these, at this time, can there be any option for Nigeria other than paying the cost of peace?
Like a billow vigorously storming around at the instance of an invisible tempest, a melee of religious hullabaloo engendered by a vicious political Pandora has virtually turned Nigeria into a land of curses. God! Where are we going from here?
MUSWEN’s Call for Harmony
In the past few weeks, the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), which is the umbrella body for all the Muslim Communities/Councils and Organizations in the six States of the South West region, was compelled to watch, helplessly, the dangerous trend of insecurity in some parts of Yoruba land with its attendant linkage to ethnicity and religion.
Coming shortly after a social national imbroglio that was precipitated by the ‘End-SARS’ saga of misfortune, which almost ran the country aground, the ethnic laden crisis in the South West of Nigeria drew another global attention to this so-called giant of Africa.
Just last week, the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria took a retrospective view of Nigeria of the 1960s/1970s and decided to come up with a press statement entitled ‘A Call for Harmony.’ The statement went thus:
“In the past few weeks, the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), which is the umbrella body for all the Muslim Communities/Councils and Organizations in the six States of the South West Region was compelled to watch helplessly, the dangerous trend of insecurity in some parts of Yoruba land with its attendant linkage to ethnicity and religion.
Coming shortly after a social national imbroglio that wasa precipitated by the ‘EndSARS’ saga of misfortune, which almost ran the country aground, the ethnic laden crisis in the South West of Nigeria drew another global attention to this so-called giant of Africa.
The whole scenario worrisomely came to MUSWEN, not just as a mind bugler, but also, as a reminder that, by nature, human life, like environmental weather, does not have a permanent feature.
The Source of Clemency
It is from the combination of turmoil today and calmness tomorrow that clemency arises to ventilate the atmosphere for peace. From time to time, human beings are reminded of the three phenomena that sustain their existence on earth. These are life, health and peace.
Without those three phenomena, there will be nothing to call human life. But then, there is an invisible balm with which to smoothen the rough surface of life, especially in times of turmoil. The name of that balm is patience, which often serves as the abode of peace.
As a religious body, we, Muslims, never forget the role that destiny plays in our lives, whether in terms of hardship or that of pleasure.
Here, in Nigeria, we are people of diverse ethnic backgrounds with different cultural identities fused together by unforeseen circumstances, to commonly become citizens of a single country, is a matter of destiny.
Today, we are in a situation whereby if such destiny had not fused us together and given us a common identity as Nigerians, we would have found ourselves in a similar situation in another land with the labels of different nationalities and we would have had no choice other than to coexist in peace, therein, willy-nilly.
America for Instance
Today, virtually everybody in the world acknowledges the greatness of the United States of America as a foremost country in the contemporary world. Yet, at the formation of that country, the inhabitants of the vast land that became USA were not from the same ethnic or cultural background.
The sacrifice which they had to make at that initial stage of their country was adoption of patience that served as the balm of smoothness in the progress of their coexistence as citizens of the same nation.
From that unique situation, the elderly people and the vocal socialites in Nigeria ought to have applied the experience they learnt from America’s history to making Nigeria a great country.
Allah had told us, in the Qur’an, over one and a half millennia ago, that diversity of colours, cultures, tribes and tongues is the secret of the greatness of nations.
This is contained in chapter 49 verse 13 of the Qur’an thus:
“Oh mankind, We have created you as males and females and We fashioned you into races and tribes so that you can interact (and draw wonderful advantages from your interaction). Surely, the very best of you are those who fear Allah most (in thoughts and in actions).
Thus, to live together in harmony, factors like considerateness, patience, tolerance, and endurance must reflect in our conducts as evidence of piety.
This is the time to know, in Nigeria, that security is neither by the quantity or quality of bayonets with which the army or the Police are equipped nor by flexing ethnic muzzles to demonstrate superiority of power.
Rather, security is about good governance, absence of corruption, adequate care for the underprivileged and intelligential watch.
If, despite the differences in our ethnic, cultural and ideological backgrounds, we can still trade together in the same markets and our children can attend the same schools as friends and compatriots, we must know that there is much more to gain from harmony than from disharmony.
Oneness of Citizens
By our social, economic and political interactions as well as inter marriages, so far, across the country, we have tacitly admitted our oneness as citizens of the same country. And, for the sake of peace and harmony, all these must not be disrupted by one ugly incident or another. Nigeria is our common project of fortune which must not be turned into a misfortune for our children to inherit.
God bless Nigeria!
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