TRIUMPH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT

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Imam Abubakar’s uncommon courage is praiseworthy, writes Sonnie Ekwowusi

Nigeria after all is not a hopeless project. There is still a glimmer of hope. Last week the United States Embassy, Abuja, honoured Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, an octogenarian Muslim Cleric, who rescued 262 Christians – men, women and children fleeing from attacks by Fulani herders in Yelwan Gindi Akwati, Swei and Nghar villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State. The attacks and rescue took place on June 23, 2018. The United States awarded Imam Abubakar the Ambassador’s Peacemaker Award for Heroism. Although the Fulani herdsmen had succeeded in killing many of their victims but the 262 Christians managed to escape.

On sighting them, Abubakar immediately came out of his house and beckoned them over to his home and mosque where he hid them. He separated the men from the women and children. While he took the women and children to his personal house, he hid the men in his mosque. When the advancing Fulani herdsmen drew near Imam Abubakar’s house they commanded him to release the 262 Christians to them. Imam Abubakar flatly refused. He went on his knees and even rolled on the floor pleading with the killer herdsmen to spare the lives of the Christians. At a point, he told them that he was prepared to die rather than surrender the Christians.

The rescue of the 262 persons by Imam Abubakar is, above all, a triumph of the human spirit. It teaches the intrinsic worth of the human person. The moral instinct which prevailed on Abubakar to rescue the Christians is the moral instinct of human civilization. We should learn from Imam Abubakar how to imbibe this important liberating principle of human civilization. Certainly when the history of Nigeria is re-written Imam Abubakar’s uncommon courage in rescuing the aforesaid persons will be written in gold.

Abubakar’s good example is more convincing than one million sanctimonious presidential speeches. In every man’s mind the intrinsic worth of the human person is implanted. We are members of the same human family – our religious, socio-cultural and tribal differences notwithstanding. The notion that Christians and Muslims share and live on the faith of Abraham and on one Almighty and Merciful God is still sacrosanct. That is why when a group of barbarians goes about murdering innocent citizens and setting their houses ablaze all in the name of religion the group should instantly be brought to justice. God created us in this world to cherish our fellow human beings not to destroy them.

Most people are worried about the increasing insecurity of lives and property in Nigeria especially in the North. Last week wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha Buhari tasked the security agencies in the country to immediately put an end to the banditry and other insecurity challenges in the North and other parts of the country. Hear the First Lady, “We should not keep silent while things are happening thinking that if something happens today, it will not happen tomorrow. What happened today will happen tomorrow, it will happen next tomorrow if we keep silent. It is compulsory to speak the truth, it is not proper for us to give the highest number of votes during elections and allow bandits to continue killing the people and keep silent.”

Quintessential Aisha Buhari! Each time the First Lady opens her mouth and says something about the bleeding of Nigeria all of us cannot but bend down to gather her words of wisdom. But I hope Aisha Buhari knows very well that the chief security officer in Nigeria today is her husband President Buhari. Pursuant to section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution it is the primary responsibility of the federal government to protect the citizens from all these serial killings and kidnapping. President Buhari is our President. No buck-passing of any sort. Responsibility in protecting Nigerian citizens ought to start and end on the table of Mr. President. I would assume that either from the “kitchen” or “from the other room” Aisha Buhari had discussed this insecurity issue with her husband before urging the security agencies in the country to put a stop to the killings and kidnappings in Nigeria. We have been spilling unnecessary blood in this country and that is not a good testimonial for any government.

The killing of our fellow a being diminishes our own existence. But unfortunately we have got accustomed to shedding of human blood. The paradox is that despite the high religiousity in the country the killing of our fellow men and women means nothing to us. You will recall that in responding to issues relating to herdsmen killings and attacks a few years ago President Buhari announced to the country that the armed Fulani herdsmen killing Nigerians and perpetrating mayhem across the country were part of the gunmen trained by the late Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi. Now that it is crystal clear to all including Mr. President that most of the killers are among us little or no concrete steps are being taken to get rid of the killers.

I stand to be corrected, but I do not think that any of the notorious herdsmen had been arrested, tried by a court of law and convicted. It is on record that the Buhari government is still reluctant to outlaw the killer herdsmen. The government wasted no time in outlawing IPOB which is not even out to kill their fellow men. But when will the Buhari government outlaw the killer herdsmen? Now we are being told that the federal government is about to open up a nomadic radio station for the herders. So, who is deceiving who in Nigeria? More importantly, the “Fulanisation” of Nigeria aimed at deconstructing the secular nature of the Nigerian state in order to serve the selfish interests of a privileged few is becoming a fait accompli.

So, while thanking Aisha Buhari for her intervention I suggest she tackles the issue headlong with her husband. Or, the First Lady could team up with the good Nigerian Imam Abdullahi Abubakar and other good Nigerians to put a stop to the spilling of blood. This is very urgent. As we speak, the North is incrasingly reminiscent of the Hobbesian state of nature. The worrisome aspect is that beyond the escalation of the herdsmen killings there are now incredible syndicated bandits and kidnappers laying siege to the expressways in the North and kidnapping and killing their captors.

Spilling of human blood cannot be a passport to heaven; rather it is a curse of a people. The killer herdsmen are a curse. They have cursed themselves and the very land on which they walk has become accursed.