In this interview with MUHAMMAD TANKO SHITTU, the President of National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations (NACOMYO), Malam Sani Suleiman Maigoro, frowns at people politicising Nigeria’s security situations and urges Islamic scholars to participate in politics.
With the general elections approaching, what is NACOMYO doing to ensure the youths are not involved in violent free election?
Youths are the greatest assets of every society, of every Ummah and of every country. When they are focused there is hope and is future for that society and country. But when they are derailed then there is concern and becomes a serious threat to the future of the society and country.
Nigeria beginning next month will have the general elections. It is a big issue for the country because when we look back at the history of the country’s transitions from one government to another it always comes with peculiar challenges, every now and then. We could attest to what the country experienced in terms of election related violence; either before, during or after the elections.
NACOMYO and Youth wing of CAN have looked at the issues in a summit held in Abuja, under the auspices of the Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC), on the guidance and leadership of his Eminence Sultan Sa’ad Abukakar, with support of the President of CAN, with youths leadership from all the 36 States of the country and reflected on how best the youths can play their roles in ensuring peaceful 2019 general elections.
We came up with some recommendations and resolutions, on how youths across different religions, will be working together in the interest of the country to continue to sensitize youths down to the grassroots levels and communities. The essence was to assist the youths to see how they can understand and harness their potentials fully. It will also help to participates and channel their energy positively in electoral processes as active stakeholders not perceives, not tools in the hands of those who may want to use them for violence. So at NACOMYO, we are carrying the sensitization from the zonal down to the states levels.
Again, we believe in education and once youths are educated, they are capable of making good use of their time and themselves. In line with this, we are promoting both the Islamic and Western education. Increasingly, there is this nexus between drugs and substance abuse with youth involvement in violence. It is unfortunate and quite disturbing that not only youths but even women are now into drugs. NACOMYO has identified and factored it out, it is in our strategic plans, and we are consulting with relevant stakeholders: security, community and religious leaders.
We are urging religious leaders to continue to include in their sermons and preachings calling on the youths to stay clear of violence so that we can have a peaceful in Nigeria. We know election will come and go and Nigeria will remain.
We are pleading with the security agencies to be unbiased, be responsible to their duties of ensuring security to everybody. The same thing applies for the election umpire- INEC. They should ensure that there is free and fair elections.
We are looking at the 2019 elections from all perspectives and we are not telling our members which way to go but we are encouraging the people to use their choice to exercise their franchise and to elect people based on credible and sound electioneering issues.
The issue of insecurity in the country is becoming more worrisome, what is NACOMYO doing to support the Government to bring about lasting peace?
Kidnapping is really one of the serious criminal acts disturbing this country today. If we look back into the history, it all started from the Southern part of the country, with people abducting big men or women who were either working in oil companies or were holding big government positions to get ransom. Increasingly, it spread down to the Northern part and it has become a national problem.
Other criminal activities are there. And you cannot address any problem from the symptoms and effects until you get to its root cause. We have taken our time to analyze the situation and discovered that there are so many deep rooted causes of the problems.
When one looks at a lot of the youths involved in those criminal acts, one will see a lot of home front problems, will see economic dimension to it. Some youths that have no job doing and want to be rich over night. There are some that are aggrieved, are not happy with the system, and the leadership. They feel that it is their own way of venting their anger on the society and on the leadership.
NACOMYO holds the position that there is no justification whatsoever for people to go into criminal activities. Poverty is a problem but it is not a justification for people to go into criminal activities. We are making everything possible sensitizing our members and we are also amplifying our voices calling on the government to take these issues seriously and to go beyond addressing them from the symptoms or seeking people to be released when they are kidnapped.
We need to see our security agencies being more proactive. For instance, the case of Zamfara State where bandits have taken place, people are being attacked when they go to farms. People are being kidnapped and killed at will. Such situations are not acceptable. Sadly, what we often see is reaction from the security agencies instead of nipping them in the bud.
NACOMYO is strongly calling that our combine security agencies must reach to these criminals wherever they are, take the fight to them, not until they perpetrate the evil. We must not be carried away by the successes recorded and to relent in efforts,
NACOMYO is so saddened by all the situations in the North East: the kidnappings and the way people are politicizing it. This is about national interest, not about politics. Government must also not relent in its efforts to provide for the welfare of the officers and men of the security personnel who are risking their lives in the fights. It must also ensure that they have the necessary and adequate weapons and equipment to engage in the fight.
The government should also ensure softer alternative approach to this violent extremism, by engaging the youths and ensuring jobs creation. I must commend the government’s current efforts on agriculture, mining and other social support and interventions. But we want to see the state governments also investing state resources on youth empowerments.
The use of Hijab in Schools and 1st Al-Muharram, as public holiday have recently creeped up, why is NACOMYO silent?
NACOMYO has not being silent, we have being very active,it is just a matter of approach. Whereas MURIC approach is amplifying those media campaign while NACOMYO believes in some underground strategic engagements and consultations with stakeholders.
As Muslim organizations we are synergizing and working together under the guidance of the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and we do things based on the different mandates of each organization.
Our position is that the use of Hijab is a right to every Muslim girl and woman and there is no compromise about it, whither state governments in the Southern part of the country or private public institutions, people in authority must desists from politicising what has to do with Muslims rights in the country.
NACOMYO is strongly calling on people who for political purposes want to be testing the patience of Muslims about our rights to stop doing that. We will not condone any attempt at insulting our girls and women, for the interest of the State or the nation’s peace. So we are united with MURIC.
On the issue of Al-Muharram Muslims in Nigeria have been making a lot of concessions just to ensure peaceful coexistence and unity of Nigeria. The Ajami writing on the Naira note, has been in existence, but over night some people feel it should be removed, because it is an Arabic writing and in Hausa.
There are lots of other holidays that the Muslims over looked because we believe in the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country. Al-Muharram, which is the commencement of the Islamic New Year, is an important date to the Islamic world, if we will be observing other holidays that are not as significant as Al-Muharram in Nigeria, then there is no reason why it should not be recognized and NACOMYO is united with MURIC on this call.
We are also calling on all other Islamic organizations to wake up and address other issues: poverty among Muslims, child delinquency, drugs and substance abuse, and engage government on how best to use public resources to address these issues.
People believe that Ulamah, Shiekhs should also join partisan politics, what is NACOMYO’s position on this?
Muslims generally, Ulamah, Shiekhs inclusive, have greater roles to play in ensuring good governance, in ensuring that politics is done in the best way as Islam says. This will ensure justice, fairness, social development, address corruption and ensures that leadership is discharged as Amana (trust). So there is nothing wrong in having people who have sound and good Islamic knowledge participating in politics, provided they have the passion, zeal and are interested in joining it.
We encourage good Muslims whether scholars or non scholars, who are grounded in Islamic moral teachings, Islamic principles of governance, to go into politics and vie for positions of authority so that they can make a difference. They can show that Islam has a lot to offer economically, socially, and in terms general development and we are in support of good Muslims venturing into politics.