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Alex Gboyega And The Discourse On Local Governance In Nigeria

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Nigeran Civil Service Bureaucratic Corps From A Generational Lens

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Tunji Olaopa

The death just occurred of Professor Alex Gboyega, a retired professor of political science at the University of Ibadan. His is the latest in the series of deaths of prominent Nigerians that have overshadowed the month of January 2022. In our relational and crisscrossing networks of significances, the shocking news of deaths hits us at different levels the same way we relate at different levels with those around us. I am connected with the late Prof. Gboyega at many levels, personal and intellectual. Prior to hearing about his shocking death, I had been involved in the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS)’s move to invite him as guest speaker at the Senior Executive Course (SEC) 44 in view of its 2022 theme of local governance, Prof. Gboyega’s forte. He apologized that he would not be able to attend given that he had just undergone a surgery and needed to convalesce. We later saw few hours after that engagement the news on social media that he had passed on.

Alex Gboyega And The Discourse On Local Governance In Nigeria

Prof. Alex Gboyega

Professor Alex GboyegaAlex Gboyega, alongside Ladipo Adamolekun, emerged from the former University of Ife scholar-practitioner framework of engagement which was the basis of the praxis created for the Chief Simeon Adebo-led western region civil service. And this model of engagement demanded that there must be serious attention given to recruitment in a way that added  to the functionality of the institute of administration as a complement of the practice of public administration in the public service. Thus, to concretize the model, Prof. Gboyega enlisted my late uncle, Chief Alfred Olaopa, and Chief Augustus Adebayo, to teach courses in local government. Chief Augustus Adebayo  would later teach me public administration at the University of Ibadan. So, in a fundamental way, my fascination with the scholar-practitioner model of engagement commenced right from my critical observation of dynamics of which Prof. Alex Gboyega was a significant part.

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Much more fundamental to Prof. Gboyega’s legacy is the idea of local government and governance that he started running with right from the commencement of his scholarship. His specialization straddled local governance, public administration and indigenous political institutions. These thematic concerns tell a coherent and significant story about Prof. Gboyega’s research portfolio that speaks to the core of Nigeria’s postcolonial and democratic malaise. Right from her independence, Nigeria has been faced with the challenge of governing a state made up of plural constituents. Or, to rephrase, the challenge is that of deploying the federal framework as the most formidable structure within which Nigeria could achieve national integration and development. As early as 1981, Alex Gboyega, in “Intergovernmental relations in Nigeria: Local government and the 1979 Nigerian Constitution,” was already fascinated with the elevated positioning of the local government which the 1979 Constitution took from the 1976 Dasuki local government reform. In a 1991 essay, “Protecting Local Governments from Arbitrary State and Federal Interference: What Prospects for the 1990s?” Gboyega already started entertaining doubts about the possibility of limiting state and federal undermining of the autonomy of the local governments the number of which was fixed at 453 by the 1989 Constitution. And in his 2003 inaugural lecture, Prof. Gboyega located the conceptual possibilities of democracy and development in the handling of local governance.

Contrary to the 1976 local government reform enshrined in the 1979 Constitution, the present state of the local governments and local governance has become dismal. And this is all the more so because Nigeria’s democratic experimentation commenced in 1999 without the complement of local governance and its distinctive elements, from subsidiarity to social capital. Apart from the delineation of duties into the executive, concurrent and residual which leaves the local government bereft of functional responsibilities, the states in Nigeria cast their shadows on their respective local government. For instance, despite the number of constitutionally assigned sources of revenue generation and collection, local governments’ fiscal bases are regularly eroded by the encroachment of the states. Thus, the erosion of local government autonomy has become fundamental to the question of federalism and the survival of Nigeria’s democratic governance.

READ ALSO: A Conspiracy History: Unraveling The Puzzles In Nigeria’s Future

It has become axiomatic that local governance is fundamental to the consolidation and sustenance of democracy everywhere. Local governance facilitates the grassroots participation of the people who are the most fundamental factor in governance. Indeed, the local governments constitute the framework for testing the transparency and responsiveness of government institutions. This is where the concepts of subsidiarity and social capital become fundamental in understanding local governance. The subsidiarity principle is targeted at undermining the centralization dynamics that is at work in the lopsidedness of the Nigerian federal constitution. Subsidiarity insists that whatever issues can be handled at the local and grassroots level must not, as a matter of fact, be centralized out of such contexts. As a democratic principle, subsidiarity becomes an imperative for local participation in governance matters. As a development initiative, it resolves three basic governance problematics: (i) it facilitates the ownership of development insights and paradigms; (ii) it facilitates the instigation of self-reliance through the deployment of local ideas and innovation; and (iii) it enables a bottom-up governance approach which in the long run helps the government itself strengthens its legitimacy quotient in the eye of the people.

Indeed, within the context of local governance, the idea of subsidiarity coherently attaches to that of social capital as a framework for making local governance and grassroots indigenous institutions work for the well-being of the people. Social capital is founded on the significance and roles of networks, communities, collaborations, connectives, and the reciprocal values that are derivable from their interconnectedness and their function. Social capital is the values and benefits generated by the cooperative endeavors of people within any institutional contexts. Thus, once subsidiarity is taken for granted as a constitutional principle, the social capital dynamic springs to action in facilitating the many networks, communities and collaborations for an active communal mobilization for development. Unfortunately, the functionality of the local institutions and the various networks have been smothered by the asphyxiation of the local governments by a constitution that disdains decentralization as a development dynamic. The political oversight of the local government by the states, especially, is starving local governance of its many potentialities even as the citizens’ expectations of local governments and democratic governance are growing.

If democracy needs the grassroots to survive, then there is a compelling need to link community-based organizations (CBOs) to the viability of local government for that tier of government to be truly developmental. Indeed, CBOs have served as the basis for vibrant self-help, service provision and as coping mechanism to cater to people’s expectations far above the capacities and capabilities of the state system. People are now used to ground their security networks in the form of vigilance and neighborhoods watch groups; maintain their roads; and initiate economic empowerment. Historically, for example, the esusu microfinance scheme has become veritable feature of modern financial assistance. The danger is that usually, especially within the context of the Nigerian state, people’s search for developmental meaning at  the grassroots is carried out outside of the reach of the state; as a concrete performance of the people’s collective rejection of the state.

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The demise of Prof. Alex Gboyega, as well as the significance of his scholarship on local government, poignantly underscores, more than ever before, the urgent need for a paradigm shift in a grassroots-propelled and constitutionally-sanctioned governance initiative that has the capacity to transform the enormous wealth and networks of the rural areas and local communities into development points. This is where the optimum communities (OPTICOM) project of Professors Ojetunji Aboyade and Akin Mabogunje at Aawe in Afijio LGA of Oyo State resurfaces again as a reprofiling strategy that built rural infrastructures as developmental models of local governance. As Prof. Gboyega adequately and stridently canvassed, bringing the local government back into the democratic governance framework is a constitutional matter. Indeed, it forms a fundamental dimension of what restructuring stands for. Rethinking the place of the local governments in the constitutional provision for intergovernmental relations translate into the willingness to place the people at the centre of democratic development in Nigeria. It is as simple as that. It is an admission that Nigeria’s fixation with the top-down and centralized development strategy has failed. And that local governance and the empowerment of indigenous institutions and grassroots networks and collaborations stand at the heart of national development.

National development has failed consistently because development strategies of various hues have been forced down the throats of local communities who have no reason whatsoever to own them or do something meaningful with them to enhance their well-being. Flowing from global ideological offerings, Nigeria has become a captive of, say, the Washington Consensus that insists that development must be imposed on hapless citizens who have no say in the matter of their own betterment. Thus, while the local governments are constitutionally emasculated within, local governance is ideologically strangulated from without. No wonder, since independence, Nigeria has been searching not only for a development plan but also for an institutional reform framework by which to achieve national integration.

Activating the local government is equally a policy reform initiative. The constitutional issue about the local government would be firmed up by a stringent attention to the policy incorporated into the Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LEEDS). This policy opens up the local communities for socioeconomic growth through the participation of government, nongovernmental agencies and civil society. In strengthening the institutional framework for making local governance functioning as a democratic imperative, democracy itself becomes the foremost beneficiary since it makes possible not only the emergence of higher quality of candidates to local offices but also the active participation of citizens in electoral matters that would then have become a significant complement to development issues for them. On the one hand, local governments can be incentivized by grants allocations through periodic ranking of LGAs based on stakeholders-validated service standards that are published and celebrated. And on the other hand, and as a correlate, this generates the basis for calibrating frameworks for aligning such self-help schemes as neighborhood watch, waste collection, water supply, sanitation, etc. service provisions system with government arrangements under a public-public partnership (PPP).

READ ALSO: In Understanding Modern Nigeria, Falola Directs Our Noble Cause

Eventually, it is through local governance and its  huge  potential that we actually begin to see democratic governance unfold. That is the essence of the scholarship of Professor Alex Gboyega.

 Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and  professor of public administration, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .  tolaopa2003@gmail.com

 

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Opinion

The Treacherous Notion Of Insulting Religious Sensibilities

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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.

READ ALSO: Bakare Condemns Killing Of Sokoto Student, Urges Unity

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.

READ ALSO: The Killing Of Citizen Deborah, Our Own Malala

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.

READ ALSO: The Killing Of Nigerian Christian Student Has Everything To Do With Religion

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

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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.

READ ALSO: The Killing Of Nigerian Christian Student Has Everything To Do With Religion

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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Opinion

The Killing Of Nigerian Christian Student Has Everything To Do With Religion

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The Treacherous Notion Of Insulting Religious Sensibilities

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.

Police Arrest Two Over Killing Of Female Student For Blasphemy

The late Deborah Yakubu

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.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Two Over Killing Of Female Student For Blasphemy

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.

READ ALSO: Female Student Burnt Alive Over Blasphemy

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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