In everyday life, human beings are capable of doing good or otherwise. But that does not mean he will end up his whole life without coming to a point where he will realise where he went wrong to adjust or where he did right to improve. This is natural in human life. That is why there’s an adage that “N body is above mistake”.
In Nigeria, no matter how an individual possesses sound character, once he/she joins politics or takes any political office, he is not immune to ridicule in both the social media or traditional media. So, it is a fact that, whoever accepts a position of public service is on a journey to a political space that is full of thorns. On the other hand, no matter how questionable a character is, once in the helm of affairs, there exists a set of individuals (sycophants) who would sacrifice their time, energy and resources to create avenues of bad excuses for failure, and change their master’s colours from black to white. This is the reality of Nigeria’s political space!
In Northern Nigeria, we grew up to the fact that our parents, regardless of their religious beliefs had developed a great resentment to anything America. They are in support of any entity that fights or challenges America’s power or narrative. That was why a lot of them jubilated the 9/11 attack. In that, they viewed the attack as nemesis that befall an arrogant superpower, as such, they cheered the attackers as heroes.
Back then, sympathising and siding with the Taliban or Al-Qa’ida attackers was not exclusive to a particular creed, but to majority of Muslims and some non-Muslims alike who perceive America as ungodly and tyrannical.
This is a fact. That was why many, named their sons after Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Umar, for being the heads of those acclaimed Jihadi groups. At that time, expressing dismay towards the actions of the these “Mujahidun or Islamic Warriors”, connotes one as someone indoctrinated by Western ideologies and an outcast Muslim that should be avoided.
Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, who is now approaching 50 years of age is likely not an exception to these sentiments. And considering the fact that, during the 9/11 attacks he was a young man with unchecked Islamic knowledge, he wasn’t in the position to soundly differentiate between actual Islamic teaching from a distorted one.
However, with the passage of time and the availability of fatwas by highly knowledgeable scholars, people (Pantami included) began to realise that their views on those organisations and their actions had no true justification and value in Islam, but only in politics (if there is). People they considered as “Mujahidun” that they were praying for their success against America and co, are not different from other known terrorists organisations.
The arrival of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, with their barbaric actions in the name of Jihad and emulation of Al-Qa’ida, was the game changer that widened the eyes of the Northern Nigerian Muslims to embrace the fact that all these so-called Jihadi groups are nothing but terrorists groups, fighting for political relevance and not for Islam.
At the moment, a high degree feud between the minister of communications and digital economy and some unseen hands is in full gear, over a report that was published by one national newspaper. The paper reported that the minister is on America’s watchlist due to some of his past utterances. The report went on to portray him as a terrorists sympathiser. But few days after the publication, the newspaper retracted retracted the allegation with an apology to the minister.
Not knowing that the allegation has no basis, those involved in spreading it went ahead to call the attention of the United States Embassy in Nigeria, to scrutinise the minister and if found guilty, should be placed on their watch list.This is ridiculous and absurd, because it calls for recolonialization in the 21st century!I don’t really understand the psyche of these people and how they arrived at a point of calling for the inclusion of their public servant in America’s terror watchlist.And one suspicious thing with these people is that, majority of them belong to the leadership of last year’s foreign induced #EndSARS mayhem, a sponsored chaos that caused loss of lives and properties; to this moment, they haven’t issued any apology to the state!
Let us not forget that, these are the same people that engineered a doctored audio, alleging massacre in Lekki by the state against its citizens, an allegation they failed to prove before a commission of inquiry, there in, they couldn’t present even a single documented picture of a corpse shot on that day. Thereafter, majority of the leadership escaped overseas and left the gullible in limbo.
This latest scenario prompted different public perceptions. Some are sympathiding with the minister coming from their region, religion and sharing same religious beliefs. Some are adding more fuel to the matter, simply for the fact that he is from the region they regard as parasitic zone and from a different religion/creed. Others are in it to score cheap political points.
To the first category, Islam is not a religion that encourages defending actions of a fellow Muslim for just being a Muslim, but for being with the truth. Wherever a weakness appears, accept it, pray for him to repent and accept responsibility for his action and caution him with a sincere call, but don’t deploy all armour to defend an err. This is actually against the teaching of Islam. Also, they should know that, what is happening to the minister today is happening to him for being a public servant in a democratic setting, not for being a representative of the Salafi Muslims. So, criticism of his past actions has nothing to do with his religious position or inclination. And I don’t think he himself is oblivious of this fact.
For the second category, this set of people regard whoever comes from any region other than theirs as an enemy that must be punished to the end. Even if his ministry is one of the biggest contributors to the growth of Nigerian economy. Why? They are blindfolded in ethno-centric world view and religious bigotry, they rarely see things beyond regional or religious point. They tend to look the other way in respect to the performance of the actor, but only from where he comes from, that is why upon realisation that the alleged story of being on American watch list lack substantial evidence, they resorted to calling for his resignation, as if they were consulted before he was appointed. And knowing full well that their demand is not respected, they changed the scenario to blackmail his religion and the religious followers.
In their quest to disrepute his new position, they deployed a controversial concept in the realm of Islam, that is the concept of “Taqiyya or Dissimulation”. Unknown to them, it is a concept known only within the Shi’a sect. However, the minister is a practicing Sunni-Salafi Muslim, he has nothing to do with that concept.
And for the third category using the scenario to score a political point, it is not a new thing that whenever something of such nature occurs, political opponents are willing to manipulate it to achieve or satisfy their political thirst, by using it as evidence to showcase the failure or incompetency of their opponent(s) or his boss. This is politics and it is nothing to write home about!
But now, who are the winners and the losers in this drama? To his foes and allies, it can be regarded as a loss. This is because, for those that used all their energy to defend him along the religious line, his testimony that his past utterances are mistakes/childish and debunking them is an eye opener for a die-hard supporter to shed their ammo to its fold, the minister understands the dangers and implications of his past outburst. And were he aware that those unguarded words he uttered during his youthful days would to hunt him today, he would’ve desisted from issuing them. And for his foes, he did contrary to their expectations. Most of them thought that he’ll still hold ontoto his previous position, and as such, they will continue to fight him at all cost.
But, who are the winners? Probably, the winners are those that view things beyond regional, political, and religious lines. They looked at the issue from a human perspective, that is, he is a human being capable of erring and with the passage of time, he could realise his mistake(s) and change for the better. With that, they consider the issue dead, since he realised his mistakes and changed his stance.
Ibrahim writes from Bauchi via [email protected] com or 07019718681