Political Jibes: Our leaders, unguarded comments and conflict instigation in Nigeria By Isa Ali Pantami

Responsible leaders always work for stability and peace of their countries, states or domains. Such leaders also work hard at maintaining the security of their society for progress, growth and development, and whenever conflict arises, it is always managed justly, diplomatically and wisely. Sir Moshe Katsav opined that “aggressive and irresponsible steps endanger the peace and stability of the world.” The case is different with most Nigerian political leaders and their evil aides or their sycophants as the case might be. The Nigerian politicians’ strategy of injecting conflict when there exist a relative stability (by virtue of people’s belief in decree/destiny or by virtue of forgiveness) is indeed a great anathema and evil.

Many cruel jibes, policies and public utterances are made towards tampering with the little-less-than-anarchy stability we enjoy.  These policies include; fuel subsidy removal under the pretext of improving the lives of Nigerians. Similarly, there are so many utterances in that direction. When the former President Obasanjo visited the United States of America, he was asked about the possibility of conducting free and fair election; he said, “Even Jesus Christ can not conduct free and fair election in Nigeria.” Recently the Minister of information, Labaran Maku in an attempt to justify the president’s journey to Brazil, at a time innocent Nigerians were being butchered, claimed “Mr President can rule from anywhere” forgetting the doctrine of necessity that brought them to power. And recently, the Governor of Bauchi State, during his media chat, claimed that “there is no country that is as blessed as Nigeria” because, according to him, the kind of leadership it has. Still fresh in our memory is the former inspector general’s declaration that “Boko Haram’s days are numbered” which resulted into another trauma in less than 24 hours after the remarks were made.

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard President Goodluck speaking at the inauguration of the board of the National Population Commission (NPC) at the presidential villa in Abuja. He said “the issue of population regulation is very sensitive; government cannot FOLD its ARMS until the country’s population becomes UNCONTROLLABLE”. He emphasised that “RELIGIOUS BELIEF” should not be a TOOL to frustrate a GOOD POLICY.” He further added that “for us to plan properly, we must MANAGE our population, but it is EXTREMELY sensitive, we are EXTREMELY RELIGIOUS, either you are a Christian or Moslem. Both Christians and Moslems and even traditionalists believe that children are God’s gift to man, so it is difficult for you to tell any Nigerian to limit the number of their children because they are gifts from God. It is a very sensitive thing but we must begin to think about it. We must begin to think about how we manage it”. All emphases are mine. I have at least nine critical observations from Mr President’s Speech, but I will talk on only three briefly.

Firstly, it is our belief that population control has been ongoing in Nigeria as a result of action or inaction of irresponsible government(s). Government through daily assassinations, bombings and targeted killings of defenceless and innocent Nigerians, is controlling population. There is also population control on our highways as a result of potholes and dilapidated infrastructure, where armed robbers or road accidents almost daily kill hundreds of travellers. Government also controls population as a result of lack of qualified doctors and dilapidated medical infrastructure. In addition to that, irresponsible armed security personnel are killing many suspects and innocent people extra-judicially. Isn’t this enough as a population control already? Sad but true!

Secondly, Islam and Christianity value and encourage their adherents to get married and be multiplied. The infallible Prophet (S) says: Get married to beloved and reproductive (spouses), because I will be proud of our numerical strength before other Prophets on the Day of Judgment (Irwa’ul Ghalil). Furthermore, human beings are the most precious, blessed and honourable resources in the sight of our Lord. They are by far better than oil and gas resources if they remain disciplined, trained and utilised judiciously.

However both religions emphasise the importance of quality of our growing population, because quantity without quality is lame and blind. What we need in Nigeria is to improve the quality of our population. The economic strength of China today lies in their responsible numerical number. Look at the population of India, the United States of America and others. The immediate task ahead of Mr President is to provide world-class education and vocational training to Nigerians on one hand, and establish international partnerships with developed nations towards creating employment for our energetic unemployed youths on the other hand.

Thirdly, Mr President underrated religions – Islam and Christianity. He considered them as a tool of frustrating good policy. Believe me, the original message of all divine religions are not only compatible to good policies, but rather they are vanguards of good policies and the scale of measuring any policy to confirm whether it’s good or bad. Divine religion is from an infallible and impeccable source that never accepts doubt or conjecture. 

The truth is population control is not the greatest challenge before Nigeria and Nigerians. The greatest challenge is the situation where innocent and defenceless people are being killed while the PDP-led government fails to protect them. Sir Aldo Leopold argued that a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. However, Islam allows child spacing or birth control in very few situations that deal mostly with medical or moral reasons.

Lastly, the primary responsibility of Mr President is to protect the lives of Nigerians as enshrined in the Holy Bible and the constitution he swore to protect. He must first deliver on this before delving into birth control. Those the president is seeking to block from being born might also ended up in school without shoes and become governors, ministers, senators, first ladies and even President(s). The infallible Prophet (S) advises who heeds to listen, “whoever believes in Allah and the last Day let him say good or remain silent.” May Allah rehabilitate our leaders and the led for the betterment of our country. 

Mr. Pantami (isapantami@yahoo.com), an Islamic cleric, is a lecturer at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, and Ph.D Candidate (Computing & IT) in the United Kingdom

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