1st January, 2012
NEW YEAR MESSAGE:
MUTUAL FORGIVENESS IS THE WAY FORWARD
The Nigerian nation experienced ugly and tragic incidents in the past year. The most harrowing being the Boko Haram phenomenon. One of the most damaging attacks of the sect was the Christmas-day suicide bombing at St. Theressa Church, Madala in Niger State in which about 35 people perished. This singular attack, heinous and reprehensible as it is, has the potential of igniting a religious war.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly believes that such chaotic situation is exactly the major objective of the Boko Haram attackers. Their desire is to set Christians against Muslims in a war of attrition. With Liberia, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan on our minds, we shudder at the thought of pushing Nigeria that far. The consequences of such a scenario are simply unthinkable. No side should imagine the possibility of an easy run-over. What is likely to happen is heavy toll on both sides, both human and material until an innate killer fatigue compels us all to ask: Why have we done this to ourselves?
Neither should the Nigerian government contemplate the involvement of foreign powers in the Boko Haram saga. America and France have offered to intervene but their involvement will complicate matters for Nigeria because they are not acceptable to all parties. Like their counterparts all over the world, the Muslims of Nigeria do not trust Western powers and do not see them as capable of creating a level playing ground for all. There is also no gainsaying the fact that Western powers are Christian nations. They cannot be expected to be fair in this matter.
This is why we must start by cautioning ourselves before it is too late. The Boko Haram sect has claimed that the Christmas day attack was in retaliation for the mass murder of Muslims in Jos on the day they were celebrating Id al-Fitr earlier in the year. A dangerous ding-dong affair has been set off and it must be nipped in the bud now. Unless the leaders act fast, mosques will be bombed in retaliation for bombed churches, families will be wiped out to revenge the elimination of families. This may go on ad infinitum because no side can completely wipe out the other no matter how hard they try.
Already the Egbesu group of the Delta region has claimed responsibility for the bombing of an Arabic school in which six children were injured. The group has also threatened to kill any Muslim found in the South. Tantrums are flying from both the Jamaat Nasril Islam (JNI) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). The latter has refused to accept the condemnation of Boko Haram by Muslim leaders in spite of the fact that Muslim leaders went as far as visiting those injured at the Madala blast.
MURIC appeals to all religious leaders to behave in loco parentis. Responsible leadership demands manifestation of high level of maturity and a good control of temper. This is the time to douse tension. Religious leaders must avoid statements capable of inflaming passions. They must keep reminding their followership of the true teachings of love, tolerance and forgiveness which are replete in both the Bible and the Qur'an.
Finally, MURIC appeals to the press to be more alive to its role as the Fourth Estate of the Realm. Nigeria cannot afford the sensationalisation of religious and ethnic clashes. The future of this country lies more in the hands of men of the pen and unless journalists caution themselves, the Nigerian nation is living between two wars.
Is-haq Akintola (Ph.D),
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights
Be just Justice is the soul of peace
No one can deny one and have the other
Neither can violence or naked force bring lasting peace