By Femi Abbas
In the past few weeks, the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), which is the umbrella body for all the Muslim Communities/Councils and Organizations in the six States of the South West region, was compelled to watch, helplessly, the dangerous trend of insecurity in some parts of Yoruba land with its attendant linkage to ethnicity and religion.
Coming shortly after a social national imbroglio that was precipitated by the ‘End-SARS’ saga of misfortune, which almost ran the country aground, the ethnic laden crisis in the South West of Nigeria drew another global attention to this so-called giant of Africa.
The whole scenario worrisomely came, not just as a mind bugler, but also, as a reminder that, by nature, human life, like environmental weather, does not have a permanent feature. It is from the combination of turmoil today and calmness tomorrow that clemency arises to ventilate the atmosphere for peace. From time to time, human beings are reminded of the three phenomena that sustain their existence on earth. These are life, health and peace.
Without those three phenomena, there will be nothing to call human life. But then, there is an invisible balm with which to smoothen the rough surface of life, especially in times of turmoil. The name of that balm is patience, which often serves as the abode of peace.
As a religious body, we, Muslims, never forget the role that destiny plays in our lives, whether in terms of hardship or that of pleasure.That here, in Nigeria, we are people of diverse ethnic backgrounds with different cultural identities fused together by unforeseen circumstances, to commonly become citizens of a single country, is a matter of destiny.
Today, we are in a situation whereby if such destiny had not fused us together and given us a common identity as Nigerians, we would have found ourselves in a similar situation in another land with the labels of different nationalities and we would have had no choice other than to coexist in peace, therein, willy-nilly.
Today, virtually everybody in the world acknowledges the greatness of the United States of America as a foremost country in the contemporary world. Yet, at the formation of that country, the inhabitants of vast land that became USA were not from the same ethnic or cultural background. The sacrifice which they had to make at that initial stage of their country was adoption of patience that served as the balm of smoothness in the progress of their coexistence as citizens of the same nation.
From that unique situation, the elderly people and the vocal socialites in Nigeria ought to have applied the experience they learnt from America’s history to making Nigeria a great country. After all, Allah had told us, in the Qur’an, over one and a half millennia ago, that diversity of colours, cultures, tribes and tongues is the secret of the greatness of nations.
This is contained in chapter 49 verse 13 of the Qur’an thus: “Oh mankind, We have created you as males and females and We fashioned you into races and tribes so that you can interact (and draw wonderful advantages from your interaction). Surely, the very best of you are those who fear Allah most (in thoughts and in actions). Thus, to live together in harmony, factors like considerateness, patience, tolerance, and endurance must reflect in our conducts as evidence of piety.
This is the time to know, in Nigeria, that security is neither by the quantity or quality of bayonets with which the army or the Police are equipped nor by flexing of muzzles by ethnic groups to demonstrate superiority of power. Rather, security is about good governance, absence of corruption, reduction of poverty, adequate care for the underprivileged and intelligentsia watch.
If, despite the differences in our ethnic, cultural and ideological backgrounds, we can still trade together in the same markets and our children can attend the same schools as friends and compatriots, we must know that there is much more to gain from harmony than from disharmony. By our social, economic and political interactions as well as inter marriages, so far, across the country, we have tacitly admitted our oneness as citizens of the same country.
And, for the sake of peace and harmony, all these must not be disrupted by one ugly incident or another. Nigeria is our common project of fortune which must not be turned into a misfortune for our children to inherit.
God bless Nigeria!
Abbas is a media consultant to MUSWEN