Last week's column reporting on the World Justice Forum that held in Barcelona, Spain, a couple of weeks ago during which I met His Eminence, Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto and our chat on the challenge of nation building drew the ire of not a few Muslims going by some of the responses I got.
And not without cause!
Inadvertently the piece, in zeroing in on the rising wave of terrorism in the name of Islam, gave a slant that suggested that "Islamization of politics" is the impediment to nation building in Nigeria. In particular, reference was made to the reported preachment of some radical Imams urging their fellow Muslims not to vote for Mr Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential election because he is not a Muslim. Of course, nothing could be more selective and, so, misleading.
Reader upon reader held the view that I was biased against Islam, drawing the conclusion that I am a Christian!
Wrong on the two counts, they are. One I am not biased against Islam, I have nothing against Islam on its own, I have everything against religion in its invidious obtrusion on the peace and pleasure of non-adherents. Two, I am NOT a Christian – a point I have often made clear to the chagrin of my "Christian" family and friends already sorrowing at the thought of my soul heading to eternal hell fire in the hands of their "jealous" God for no sin other than that I am not a Christian!
Religion is a sore point and I do not want to spoil anyone's Sunday so we should move quickly on.
But as one of my more polite reader's half-delivered message – from 08061293149 – correctly reads: "Where is your sense of balance? I'll rather say religion-lization (not only Islamization) and ethnicitization of politics remains a great (challenge to our nation building)…" I concur.
Again in the particular instance of the last presidential election, I have a first hand experience. Tossing up who the better candidate to vote for is between Buhari and Jonathan, my very own sister (whose name I will not mention) swore not to vote for Buhari for none reason other than that he is a Muslim. I was scandalised! This is a sufficiently educated woman, indeed one in whose hands the moulding of lives of young ones depends, saying to my face, more or less, that it is inappropriate for a Christian to vote Buhari because he is a Muslim? But doesn't Buhari have a Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate? Well, that doesn't count, and neither does Bakare anyway whose "Christianity" has been stained by following Buhari!
So I am not particularly shocked or unbelieving to learn that in similar way to some mosques in which the Imams preached against voting Jonathan because he is a Christian, there were churches whose pastors preached against voting Buhari on account of being a Muslim! The comforting thing is that as there were the likes of (Islamic) Sultan asking that one's religion should not be a consideration in voting, there were some pastors, including the Christian leader (whose name I've forgotten but who the Sultan spoke nicely of) who reportedly also canvassed against using religion as basis for voting or not voting a candidate.
And, as another responder, Moshood Thani (08061538299), says in his text message: "Religion bigotry should be condemned in its entirety. But it is hypocritical (to suggest that) one religion (is) responsible for Africa political under development."
Having said all of this, the core issue and sore point is that religious fundamentalists, and lately Islamic extremists of the Boko Haram sect, have introduced a violent dimension to their obnoxious jihadist agenda threatening not only the unity of the country but her very existence as a country.
Unfortunately, in the silly supremacist war of annihilation between the two unfortunately dominant but oppressive faiths – Christianity and Islam – in the country, those of us in our millions who belong to neither have our lives and livelihood (collaterally) in danger even as we mind our own business.
It's not funny.
And much ado about Islamic Banking
From my childhood friend who is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary and an erudite economist, came this text:
"Try hard as I can, I cannot see any reasons, apart from sentiment, for the loud objections by some to Islamic Banking.
"Maybe you can educate me o. Thanks in advance!"
And my reply:
"Damn right, for as long as public funds are not compromised. In a free market let all be given room, and let all survive who deserve to survive!"
My attention has been called to the last JAMB and some attendant problems capable of messing the lives of some of our children who sat for it:
"Pray you call the attention of the JAMB to the inability of some Biometric Capturing Machines to capture some few innocent candidates at some centres last Saturday, 18th June 2011.
"The Exam body should please do something fast to look into this before the release of the results.
"May you continue to be ever downright honest. We need your voice on this." Mr. Ojediran, Lagos (08059337798).
And, in another long report by one Mr Adebolu Arowolo on conduct of the last JAMB exam, the mess gets messier.
JAMB, he alleges, "sold its admission forms to candidates with the understanding and firm promise that calculators and writing materials such as erasers and pencils would be provided by the Board at the various examination centres throughout the country. (And) pasted on the Board's website: ‘Note: Pencil, sharpner, eraser, calculator, and writing materials will be supplied to you in the examination centre by the Board. Do not bring any of the above items…to the examination centre' ".
"(JAMB's) Registrar, Pro. Dibu Ojerinde (reiterated) the same warning (that) candidates would not be allowed into the exam centres with writing materials as the Board was ready to supply them.
"The provision of these materials was obviously built into the price at which JAMB sold its forms to candidates."
Cut a long story short, Mr Arowolo informs us that in many centres "JAMB failed to provide calculators and basic writing materials" sending the candidates affected in disarray. The consequences can be imagined, especially for the science students who depend on calculators, aside the reinforcement of the impression that we are in a country where government cannot be trusted and nothing works.
And as Arowolo further says: "Many candidates for no cause of theirs will fail the exam and may have to stay at home for another year. This is too costly and unjust. Lapses and inefficiency will never cease until those who perpetrate them are made to pay for their mistakes."
Well, I hold my peace until I hear from the JAMB administrators. But need I say that if half of what I hear is true, JAMB had better make restitution to the candidates affected lest we get into the same trouser – JAMB and I!
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