When I speak to young people, it is always a delight because it is an avenue to cultivate their minds and leave a lasting impact on them. Thus, I was overjoyed at the recent opportunity to speak to students at Fountain University, Osogbo.
These students have burnt the proverbial midnight candle in the past few years to get the best of education and real-life training. I believe this education is potent enough to change their lives positively and give them an edge in life as they begin to live up to their potential. However, they are currently confronted with the same problems as the average Nigerian, and they are likely to be filled with doubts about what the future holds for them, about whether they can truly make a difference and succeed in the face of the country’s existential challenges. In light of this, I spoke to them passionately and honestly about how having faith and hope can illuminate their paths and help them succeed in their different fields of endeavour.
Faith and hope are not terminologies of the religious world alone. They are two concepts crucial to any nation’s development, especially in Nigeria, where traumatic levels of crises and underdevelopment have been endemic. Conversely, despair, gloom, and hopelessness are euphemistic terms to squelch and denigrate the state of mind of the average Nigerian towards the country’s state of affairs. Nigerians from all corners of the country feel a great sense of hopelessness about the utterly miserable life that most citizens live. This dejection causes many to take on life-threatening journeys to migrate to other regions, searching for greener pastures and relief. While many may condemn this egregious display of desperation and recklessness, we can reasonably say that the present situation is dire enough that many undertake even the most outrageous of measures to escape their circumstances.
Truly, Nigeria’s problems are so gigantic that providing a microcosmic overview of the various problems and crises the country is battling would be difficult. This is due to the precariousness of the issues and how interwoven, interconnected, and closely knit the problems are. However, we must talk about these problems if we are ever going to proffer solutions. So, what are the problems being faced by the Nigerian state? Throughout the chequered history of Nigeria, there is not a single period when the country has been completely peaceful. Even the early sixties were relatively calm, with the country fresh out of colonialist occupation for close to a century. Many placed hope in the future greatness of the newly independent country, and its citizens waited eagerly for its potential to be unveiled. Unfortunately, the independence reverie did not last long, as a myriad of political discontents and disagreements germinated into violent conflict, causing chaos and shaking the foundations of the nascent nation. These struggles and instability culminated in the advent of military governance, which no one can say were beneficial to the country.
Tribal rivalry and injustice arising from the military’s incursion into power ushered in one of the most important intra-national conflicts in twentieth-century Africa. The eviscerating civil war resulted in the loss of millions of lives, wanton destruction of properties beyond reasonable conception, and the sowing of seeds of discord that germinated and have refused to die to date. During the war, desperate tactics were adopted by the warring parties, with formal military rules being largely abandoned. After the war, many civilians-turned-combatants were not properly demilitarised, and their weapons were confiscated from the public. This brought about an unprecedented proliferation of lethal weapons, with many falling into evil hands.
Violent intentions and capabilities, as well as rising social and economic inequality, political problems, and a decaying society, brought about an increase in stolen arms and weapons. These conditions set the stage for a new kind of insecurity in the country, which surfaced just as the nation was healing and recuperating from the bloody rivalry that lasted almost three years. Between 1970 and 1976, there was a staggering 900% increase in armed robbery, with well over 100,000 cases reported in 1976 alone. It should be noted that this sobering situation led to robberies and killings that have continued to this day in different parts of the country.
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Another of Nigeria’s mainstay issues is ethnoreligious based disputes. Nigeria is a country where people of sometimes completely different ways of life are coerced to live together under a single federation, leading to clashes with ethnic and religious colourations. Although Nigeria is no stranger to religious and tribal violence, incidents have increased in ferocity, intensity, and frequency in the past few years. One of the most common dimensions of this issue is the herder-farmer crisis, which has reached genocidal proportions. At another end is the malignant Boko Haram insurgency. This insurgency has been a bone hanging in the throat of the Nigerian state for as long as anyone can remember. On the wings of the promise of absolving this organisation of insurgents, among other things, Muhammadu Buhari rode to win the Aso Rock seat in 2015. However, we have seen a consolidation of the Boko Haram menace by kidnapping bandits, secessionist threats crises, and other issues. Kidnapping has become a common denominator in the Nigerian scene, to the point that even protected government officials are kidnapped or killed.
Now more than ever, sections of the Nigerian state feel the need to disintegrate themselves from the whole to protect themselves and pursue the interests of their people. There have been reinforcements in the agitations of the Indigenous People of Biafra and protests and moves for the Yoruba nation by Chief Sunday Igboho and his fellow activists. One thing to note is that many of the crimes perpetrated against citizens do not have ethnic or religious backgrounds though they have grown in recurrence, persistence, severity, and cruelty in recent years. As many of these crimes involve the lives of youth in society and result in some economic gain, it is not difficult to understand the circumstances surrounding their occurrence. Unstable economic conditions, mainly caused by the apparent lack of industrial productivity, have ravaged the nation for many years and trickled down to current generations facing unemployment and underemployment in a rapidly progressing world.
Furthermore, the lack of economic productivity contributes to Nigeria’s foreign exchange woes. Underproductivity caused damage to the country’s foreign exchange viability by leaving the country’s foreign exchange earnings to be derived from a particular extractive commodity that is subject to eternal fluctuations in price. Forex instability also details export earnings, and the industrial downturn in Nigeria and its forex challenges have made it non-attractive to the international investing community as foreign direct investments (FDI) have fallen off a cliff, with no promises of recovery soon.
Another set of mountainous problems bedevilling the republic is the government’s failure or outright lack of access to basic infrastructural services for the people. Almost all Nigerians consider the gross absence of the necessities of life as normal. The country lacks basic amenities that its citizens should be enjoying, such as an excellent and smooth road network, stable electricity, water supply, a strong healthcare system, among other things. The availability of these amenities in good working order will not only benefit citizens but will also contribute to the increase in the country’s average standard of living by facilitating trade and other beneficial economic contributions.
All the problems and crises expounded above, from religious and ethnic-induced insecurity to alarming unemployment rates, are traceable to several existential developmental challenges that the country is battling without any sign of a slowdown. It is a given that these challenges must be resolved for Nigeria to experience real, effective progress. A former British Prime Minister once described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt,” a moniker that notarises a plight known all too well in Nigeria, in both the public service and the private sector. Corruption is endemic to Nigeria, and one of the things that have helped this epidemic fester and spread malignantly is that Nigerians are more interested in talking about it than actively seeking ways to mitigate it. We have been talking about corruption in Nigeria and the need to eradicate it since yesterday, and we may as well continue to talk about it till tomorrow without being able to solve the problem. If everyone is talking about corruption and asking the government to solve the problem without truly admitting their role in the corrupt system and committing to taking a path towards change, we may never see that change. If everyone acts sanctimoniously, who then is corrupt? The truth is that corruption does not live amidst the politicians alone. It is everywhere, and the earlier we realise it, admit our individual complicity, and decide to turn a new leaf, the better.
Aside from the developmental issues of corruption, Nigeria faces the absence of the rule of law, justice, and equality. The government and private citizens involved in law-making and its enforcement are known for their egregious abuse of the rights and privileges of others, almost always with lewd immunity and abandonment. It is not uncommon to find powerful people employing the state’s security apparatus to punish the less fortunate. Public servants and those with a higher socioeconomic status can disobey and ignore court rulings, especially regarding human rights issues. There is already a gaping divide between the everyday realities of the so-called average person and the people at the upper echelon of politics, society, business, and the economy. As a result, they can afford the basic amenities that the government seems incapable of providing for the wider populace, and access to compulsory governmental services is often enjoyed by the “highest bidder.” The amalgamation of these conditions fosters a society where discontent festers, engendering violence and mutiny against the state.
If one factor could encapsulate all these issues, it is the fact that institutions in the country are weak and excessively incapable of carrying out their responsibilities. The laws themselves grant enough power to the institutions and the officers designated to oversee them. However, in practice, these officers cannot perform the functions they are assigned by the law due to a plethora of superseding interests in which the welfare of the general society, which they are expected to serve, is relegated to the background and parochial goals gain precedence. This creates a state where the average Nigerian does not have a genuine emotional connection to the country, or in cases where such a connection exists, it is only perfunctory.
To face the fact, the current state of Nigeria is traumatic. For the average Nigerian, it is always a struggle for daily survival. The environment that Nigeria’s insecurity and crises have created is facilitating discouragement in people’s minds, influencing the behaviour of the sparingly motivated, and leading the ambitious to find escape routes – legal or illegal – from the country. For the rest of the people still in the country and those planning to emigrate, we must find solace in faith and hope while we wait to fulfil the promise of development. In situations like this, when things become turbulent for the commoner, we must not throw in the towel or resign to fate. Instead, we must learn from the strength and patience we gain from believing in the Almighty, which has taught everyone to hold on even to the last breath of life. If we all decide to do this, there is a certainty that the fulfilment of promises is lurking around the corner and is just about to manifest. Besides, as patriotic citizens, if we remain in this country, we can find assurance in the hope of a better future and exercise faith in the belief that all that has to be done to achieve development in the country will be done.
We cannot find love and mutuality among the people close to us anywhere else.
Therefore, while we expect that things get better, the least we can do is maintain a positive outlook. We must cultivate a mindset that reflects the possibility of a better nation, sees the current crises and underdevelopment as a surmountable mountain, and expects the people to blossom in the euphoria of a better Nigeria. We cannot abandon what belongs to us and build another man’s land. For the Nigerian society to experience lasting and far-reaching transformation, a change in its members’ cognition (thinking) and values is required, which may be regarded as the crux of quality social engineering. We should note that social engineering, in this instance, should not be erroneously conceived as an attempt at indoctrination or propagandism. Regardless of our political, religious, and ethnic affiliations and philosophies, certain tenets of human living appeal to almost anyone and can be adjudged as desirable to everyone.
Even in the face of the current challenges, we must live in the optimism that Nigeria will one day get to the state we have always hoped for and morph into Africa’s true giant. Only by doing this, fueled by faith and hope, can we bring Nigeria to a new level of attainment commensurate to what the nation needs.
.Part of the speech Prof Falola delivered during the 10th/11th Convocation of the Fountain University, Osogbo, on January 13, 2022.
Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
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The Treacherous Notion Of Insulting Religious Sensibilities
By Leo Igwe
I have been campaigning vigorously for the release of Mubarak Bala, who has been jailed for insulting the religious sensibilities of Muslims, some Muslims in Kano. In the past two years, I have engaged the notion of contempt for religion as a crime or an offence that warrants any sanction or penalty. I am of the view that criticizing religions and highlighting their misconceptions, shortcomings and absurdities is a moral and intellectual duty. I have encountered many religious apologists and fence-seaters who have tried to defend the notion that insulting religion is a transgression that should be punished. In this piece, I want to reiterate the implausibility and unintelligibility of the treacherous notion of insulting religion.
As expected the brutal murder of Deborah Samuel for making supposedly blasphemous statements has reawakened the debate on insulting people’s faiths. I have seen some educated Nigerians tacitly justify this obscenity implying that the alleged remark by Deborah Samuel constituted a punishable transgression. Sometimes they put it expressly stating that they do not support making disparaging remarks about others’ religious beliefs. Look, those who try to justify the notion of insulting religion either do not understand the nature of religion or are not good students of history especially the history religions in Nigeria and Africa. Do not get me wrong, I understand that people feel hurt when their well-cherished religious or philosophical views or icons are challenged, criticized, questioned, or ridiculed. But that is what is, and what it means to live in a free and open society.
And this open-society feature is not peculiar to any people or culture. In a pluralistic society like Nigeria, people hold diverse views and opinions. These views may be offensive, hurting, or insulting to others’ beliefs and sensibilities, positions, and propositions. Some people’s religious sense is others’ religious nonsense. A person’s religious food is another’s religious poison. Clear and simple. People are bound to find other people’s religious or philosophical views and opinions objectionable and disagreeable. That is normal and should be expected. Nobody should expect to live in a society where there are no opposing or contradictory views and ideas. So instead of urging against insulting other people’s religious beliefs and sensibilities, which is a pretext for oppression, repression, and suppression of other religious and irreligious ideas, a case should be made for tolerance -tolerance of other religious and non-religious ideas and notions. A case should be made for respect for the rights of others to freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of expression, not respect for others’ religious notions. Ideas should not be respected. Human beings should be respected.
It is disingenuous to accuse people of disrespecting a belief or a religion, or to expect everyone to respect a particular religious icon. That is tyranny. That is a totalitarian tendency. Religious doctrines are to be believed or disbelieved, debated, confessed, and professed. Religions are made to be entertained, embraced or abandoned, renounced, examined and analyzed, accepted or rejected. In matters of faith, respect or disrespect is a factor of belief or disbelief. Christians who treat the Bible with respect do so because they believe that it is the word of God. Muslims respect Muhammad because they believe or are made to believe that he is the messenger from Allah or the greatest prophet of all times. Now, non-Christians and non-Muslims do not share these beliefs.
How does one expect an individual to respect a belief or doctrine that he or she rejects? What does it mean to insult a belief, that one thinks is mistaken, false, or untrue? Unfortunately, religion is replete with myths and misconceptions about the universe, nature, and how nature works. Many religious teachings are outdated and incompatible with many scientific and philosophical views. To be specific, how does one expect non-Muslims to treat the prophet of Islam with respect when they do not believe in his prophethood? How does one think that a non-Christian who is of the notion that Jesus never existed would treat Jesus with respect? The mistake many believers make is to expect non-believers to treat and respect their beliefs, objects, and personalities as they do. And as Germans would say: Das gehts lieder nicht(Unfortunately, that is not possible). That is not applicable. That is not healthy for society. Yes, that is not how religions operate.
Now think about it, the religions which demand respect are Christianity and Islam. Meanwhile, these are not the only religions and philosophies that exist in society. Why is it that believers, Muslims in this case, feel entitled to not be offended? Meanwhile, they espouse views and notions that going by their standards insult religious and irreligious beliefs and icons of others. For instance, Muslims claim that making disparaging remarks about the prophet of Islam is a red line. Understood. They claim that nobody should cross the redline without serious consequences. Fine. But in their everyday preaching and profession of faith, they cross the redlines of others; they make disparaging remarks about prophets and propositions of other religions and philosophies. In their profession of faith, Muslims dismiss other gods as non-existent; they downgrade other prophets. Don’t Muslims know that the recitation of Shahada is offensive, insulting, and provocative to many out there?
Muslims tell us that they love their prophets more than their parents, in fact, more than any human being. They tend to forget that people of other faiths and beliefs have a strong emotional attachment to their religious and philosophical icons too. And if people were to respond violently as Muslims often do to those who scorn their faiths and beliefs then there would be no peace in the world. There would be no Muslims or Christians, no believer or non-believer to respect or disrespect religions and philosophies.
It should also be noted that Christianity and Islam are faiths that missionaries, jihadists, and scholars from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia introduced to the region. These two religions owe their spread and dominance to the activities of those who ‘insulted’ and still ‘insult’ African traditional religious gods, prophets, and beliefs. So how does one make sense of the fact that the religions whose members ask that their icons be respected are out there relentlessly lampooning other religions and beliefs as a matter of divine mission and mandate? For centuries missionaries and proselytizers have in some cases, through physical and structural violence, and impertinent insolence toward African traditional world views and identities been furthering the cause of Christian and Islamic faiths.
The idea of insulting other gods, religions, and beliefs is embedded in the religious enterprise. Insulting religious beliefs is not alien to religions. Every religion blasphemes against other religions. Each religion claims to embody absolute truth and divinity as opposed to other religions that are fake or inferior, or custodians of minor/marginal gods. Interesting no religion is monolithic. Every faith is characterized by a plurality of views and doctrines; by competing and opposing sects, denominations, and traditions. These traditions have doctrines, and they make propositions that other faith traditions consider insulting or disrespectful. So insulting religious beliefs is part and parcel of the religious business. It is what religions do as a matter of fact. Instead of urging against insulting religious sensibilities, which is often a demand from members of a particular religion wherever they are in the majority, tolerant pluralism should be encouraged and fostered. Believers and non-believers should be urged to condone other religious and irreligious views. If anyone finds a view offensive or insulting, the person should challenge it, criticize it, scrutinize it, denounce it, examine it, and yes debate or debunk it. People of all faiths and beliefs should learn to accommodate and civilly engage positions and propositions that insult or disparage their faiths or beliefs whether they are in the majority or in the minority.
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The Killing Of Citizen Deborah, Our Own Malala
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
Last week the video of a body set ablaze by a mob went viral on social media. It was preceded by the still picture of a lady dressed in red lying on the ground in a grotesque manner. Life was no longer in her. She had succumbed to savagery and jungle justice by overzealous morons who accused her, found her guilty and executed her in a most barbarous manner reminiscent of the Stone Age. She died a most horrendous death at the hands of her class or school mates. She was stoned to death by students at a College of Education. The barbarous act was carried out by some teachers of tomorrow. What kind of educators would these teachers be in future? Do they recognize Nigeria? Do they realise that Nigeria is not an Islamic Republic, that is, supposing an Islamic Republic will tolerate such a murder? How are the killers better than bandits or terrorists currently plaguing the northern part of Nigeria? We have allowed a monster out of religion, fighting wars for God who obviously did not ask us to fight for Him!
It turned out that it was the body of Citizen Deborah Yakubu, a student at Shehu Shagari College of Education Wamako Sokoto, who had been murdered because, according to her traducers, she blasphemed the name of Prophet Mohammed. In a class WhatsApp platform, she had complained that the platform had been inundated with religious posts and that the platform should be used for what it was created for. Her traducers claimed she made some uncomplimentary remarks about Prophet Mohammed. Later a sweaty nincompoop, with the dark looks of a savage, released a video in which he claimed gleefully that he was the one that killed the lady in question. This in 21st century Nigeria? This is unacceptable. It is indicative of the deep division between world view of extremists in the north and the rest of the country.
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The ugly news has not been carried by cable network stations. If it happened in Afghanistan or the Middle East, her death would be on the airwaves. Fortunately, and appropriately, the Sultan of Sokoto, leader of Muslims in the country, has spoken against the murder. But he should not stop there. We expect him to personally get involved and ensure that the killer is paraded before the press as a common criminal. Except he does this, we would see the condemnation as mere lip service. The irrepressible Father Matthew Kukah has also condemned the murder and called on the government to fish out the perpetrators for the right punishment, stating that ‘’the only obligation that is owed her immediate family, her fellow students and the school authorities is the assurance that those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter the provocation, are punished according to the laws of the land’. Writer Gimba Kakanda wrote on a Facebook post: ‘the barbarism that transpired in Sokoto today has no basis in Islam, and it indicts us all. This culture prevails because past self-appointed punishers of blasphemers got away with their crimes. Whether in Islamic jurisprudence or our secular law, there’s no place for jungle justice, no matter how any offended mob feels’.
But the misguided zealots don’t feel any remorse. Some posts which followed the gleeful announcement on social media are instructive. The killer whose photograph is prominently displayed on social media boasted: ‘I killed her. I burnt her. You can see the matchbox I used in setting her ablaze’. One Muhammed Mode Gagi wrote, just as Bilyaminu Ladan, Sirajo Isiya and Balkisu Umar Ibrahim that: ‘You have done well, may God increase the status of Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w). Sufiyenu Yabo then concluded it: ‘Praise be to God. May Allah reward you with paradise! Which God? My question is if the head of Muslims has called it murder, from which book did the young Muslim boys and girls learn that to inflict jungle justice on a woman who supposedly blasphemed is carrying out a divine injunction?
I must state from the outset that no one has the right to insult another religion, either directly or indirectly. Christianity and Islam are the two major religions in Nigeria. Adherents must know their boundaries. To insult Prophet Mohammed is unacceptable. But it is also unacceptable for an individual to take the life of another citizen in the name of religion. This is how religious wars start. Pause for a minute and imagine what it would be if Christians in Sokoto decide to take the life of a Muslim youth in vengeance. Or if in the Christian-dominated south a Christian family carries out a reprisal attack. An endless cycle will start, the end of which no one can predict. Therefore, the Sokoto State government must rise to the occasion and bring the culprit to book.
There had been other killings in the name of religion in the past. In 1995, one Gideon Akaluka was decapacitated by Muslim fanatics for blasphemy. Nothing came of it in the form of punishment on her killers. In June 2016 Mrs. Bridget Agbaheme was brutally murdered by suspected Islamic extremists in Kofar Wambai market Kano state, over allegations that she blasphemed the name of the Holy Prophet. Except the government takes a decisive action against such criminals, more of such acts will occur in future.
The killing is most incendiary. It is provocative. It could trigger off sectarian war. As we know, religious wars are difficult to contain. The Christian Association of Nigeria should get actively involved to ensure that Deborah does not die in vain. Justice must be pursued to serve as a deterrent. The NBA and allied associations must rise to the occasion. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) has urged NBA-SPIDEL not to hold any conference in the state where a Nigerian citizen has ‘been brutally murdered and burnt to death…we should make a statement to the government by cancelling the conference and hold it in a neighbouring State in the North’.
What has given Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai an international stature? It is the attack on her person by religious extremists because of her stance on education. Deborah is our own Malala, and she should be accorded that status. Her death at the hands of ignorant and defiant zealots diminishes all of us. I expect the president, the state governor and high-ranking state officials from the North to condemn the killing and order the arrest of the killer. The college management should suspend the suspect pending full a investigation. There will be no love lost between the killer squad leader and other Christian members of the class and indeed all other Christian students in the college. Some acts, small as they are, help to define a nation. Except the government punishes the killer, the government would inadvertently be promoting the emerging narrative that there is no ‘One Nigeria!
POSTSCRIPT: After submitting the essay, further developments made me return to my submissions. The culprits were appropriately arrested, leading to mass protests. There have been riots in Sokoto, with houses and property belonging to non-Muslims being targeted. Alhaji Atiku has withdrawn his condemnation of the killing of Citizen Deborah. He has lost votes, thereby. The state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew. But soldiers ought to be drafted to quell the riots that have led to the destruction of lives and property. This is no way to grow a federal republic! Government must stand firm! Mr. President must condemn the arsonists.
Professor Eghagha writes from the Department of English, University of Lagos.
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The Killing Of Nigerian Christian Student Has Everything To Do With Religion
By Leo Igwe
Humanists are outraged by the gruesome murder of a female college student in Sokoto in Northern Nigeria. Such a horrific act is a sordid reminder of the threat of Islamic extremism in Nigeria. Muslim students at Shehu Shagari College of Education accused a Hausa Christian, Deborah Yakubu, of blasphemy; they beat their colleague to death and burnt the corpse. Ms. Yakubu reportedly protested against posting religious messages on the student Whatsapp platform. Her protest angered some Muslim students who mobilized and subsequently killed her.
The brutal killing of Ms. Yakubu is not an isolated incident. Many Muslims and non-Muslims adjudged to have insulted Islam or its prophet have suffered a similar fate in the region. In 2007, some Muslim students in Gombe lynched their female Christian teacher for desecrating the Quran. There have been other violent attacks and murders of alleged blasphemers in Muslim-dominated areas in Kano, Niger, and other parts of Islamic Northern Nigeria. Persons accused of blasphemy have been sentenced to death by sharia courts in Kano. Others like Nigerian Humanist, Mubarak Bala, have been given long prison sentences. Muslim clerics and state officials have openly and publicly endorsed the execution of blasphemers.
For instance, in 2015, Islamic theocrat, Bashir Ahmad tweeted this comment after a sharia court sentenced nine persons for blasphemy: “I cannot pretend or keep silent. I support the death penalty for blasphemy. That is my belief and I will never support #SaveKanoNine”. So it is patently untrue and misleading for anyone to say that the brutal murder of Ms. Yakubu and other blasphemy-related attacks, sanctions, and bloodletting in Northern Nigeria have nothing to do with religion. No, they do. As the case of this Christian woman has shown, these bloodletters are usually motivated by their religious belief in the prophet of Islam; Islamic teachings and orientations, and by their quest to placate Allah and inherit the paradise in the hereafter.
So if Nigeria wants to end these horrific attacks and killings, it should take a critical look at how Islam is professed and practised in Northern Nigeria. Nigeria needs to determine if Islam is a religion or a death cult; if muslims operate within the law or above the law and if Islamic privilege is a state policy. Look, Islam has a history of violence and bloodletting that persists. The government must admit that jihadist Islam is entrenched and pervasive. Boko Haram militants are not only in the Sambisa forest. Islamic extremists exist and operate in several mosques, courts, police, and army stations. Boko Haram jihadists and their sympathizers are not a small minority as some people claim. They populate government houses, schools, colleges, and universities.
So it is high time Nigeria confronted this big elephant in the room, that is Islamic extremism. Muslim leaders should stop living in denial; they should stop pretending that jihadist Islam is not a huge problem. Muslim leaders should stop deceiving the world and saying that blasphemy killings and attacks have nothing to do with religion, in this case, Islam. No, these killings have everything to do with Islam as practised in Northern Nigeria. And the way Islam is preached and practised in Northern Nigeria must change. The government must address this toxic tendency and habit that makes muslims value their religious and prophetic icons more than human lives. Nigeria must tackle this savage and dreadful inclination of muslims to kill, attack or maim others at the slightest provocation. Nigerian authorities should monitor the activities of Muslim clerics because these religious actors use their preaching and Quranic indoctrination programmes to radicalize young Muslims and turn them into merchants of hate, violence, death, and destruction. The government should protect the rights of those who criticize the teachings and traditions of Islam and its prophet because it is through a critical examination of Islamic doctrines and practices that these extremist ideas and tendencies could be exposed and expunged.
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Nigeria should take measures to end impunity and ensure that those who indulge in blasphemy-related attacks or killings are brought to book. Those who carry out these barbaric acts should not go scot-free. They are murderers and criminals and should be arrested, prosecuted, and jailed to serve as a deterrent to others. Usually, when muslims attack or kill for blasphemy, no arrest is made, in cases where arrests are made, nobody is prosecuted; and in situations where some are charged to court, they are later acquitted. This culture of impunity must end if Nigeria must make progress in this 21st century. There should be serious consequences for blasphemy-related attacks. The Nigerian government should repeal blasphemy laws because as long as there are provisions that criminalize insults on religion, freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression will not be guaranteed and these savage attacks in the name of Allah or Prophet Muhammad will continue.
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