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Political Leadership Recruitment: Appeal To APC Leaders

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Political Leadership Recruitment: Appeal To APC Leaders

By

Salihu Moh. Lukman

The emergence of APC in 2013 presented a new ray of hope and opportunity to address problems of political leadership recruitment in Nigeria, especially the big issue of producing successors to president and governors. Experiences during the sixteen years of PDP were cases of last-minute and impulsive decisions influenced by considerations of factors of loyalties to current leaders. Arbitrary decisions influenced choices of leaders, often creating big gaps leading to the emergence of leaders who have little or no capacity to meet public expectations. This reality further entrenches problems of accountability, with many leaders flagrantly converting public resources to personal wealth. Mainly because leadership recruitment based mainly on consideration of loyalty is not a function of commitment to principles or values, even where so-called loyalists succeed current leaders, problems of political disagreements between past and current leaders continue. Consequentially, this has negatively impacted on governance through policy reversals, with successor leaders behaving worse than leaders from the opposition.

As a party envisioned to facilitate the process of changing Nigerian politics, APC leaders and members must be reminded that the most important determinant for political change at this crucial point in the nation’s political development is an initiative to change the orientation of political leadership recruitment. The reality is that leadership recruitment in APC, as it is today, is not fundamentally different from what exists in PDP. Partly because it is not different, we have produced leaders, both in government and in the party, APC, who at best, are typical PDP leaders. These are leaders who only succeed in reducing government and party management to a bureau de change.

However, unlike PDP, in our case in APC, internal contest in the party is effectively mobilising opposition against such leaders. The current contest going on in APC is a typical example. Although the contest is partly to ensure that the March 26, 2022 APC National Convention holds and produces new leaders, it must be stressed that the quality of the new leaders of the party being expected to emerge from the convention should begin to change, if APC is to meet public expectations. For instance, the internal opposition against His Excellency Mai Mala Buni’s leadership of APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) is largely because of all the numerous cases of allegations of corruption against him. How different from His Excellency Mai Mala will the new leaders of the APC after the March 26 National Convention be? Will the new leaders continue the business of extorting aspirants for elective positions and to that extent continue to run party management as a bureau de change?

How the party treats allegations of corruption against the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala will substantially determine the nature of new leaders to emerge. Many of the allegations against His Excellency Mai Mala are already public knowledge in the media. From Anambra to Ekiti and Osun primary, there are allegations about extorting money from aspiring party leaders for governorship. Part of the media report alleged that the discovery of how much money could be made from conducting primary is responsible for why His Excellency Mai Mala is doing everything necessary to ensure that APC National Convention is delayed and merged with the process of party primary to produce candidates for the 2023 elections. The speculated expectation is that the opportunity to organise APC primary to produce candidates for 2023 election will provide the opening to make ‘good business.’ There are already allegations against His Excellency Mai Mala that he has started extorting money from some of the emerging presidential aspirants. Although no details are available, there are speculations that one of the aspirants who is alleged to have made some payment is yet to join the party. Yet, party campaign offices are being speculated to begin to spring up for the would-be aspirant expected to join the APC, as part of the deal.

READ ALSO: Fresh Crisis In APC As INEC Fails To Recognise Bello As Interim Chair

There was also specific allegation against His Excellency Mai Mala bordering on extorting money from party leaders, including serving governors, involved in disputes arising from the party congresses. First term APC governors are being alleged to have been offered automatic tickets. Similar automatic tickets are also being alleged to have been offered to APC Senators and House of Representatives members. If Anambra State 2021 governorship primary is to be the yardstick, automatic tickets would mean that highest bidders will emerge as the APC’s candidates at different levels. Serving Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members, etc. will be required to match the amount given by aspiring highest bidders. Based on that, dishonest party leaders will be given the responsibility of returning highest bidders, just like His Excellency Dapo Abiodun was the returning officer of the APC Primary election in Anambra State, which declared Sen. Andy Uba as the winner with more than two hundred thousand votes. Yet, in the main election, APC could barely poll fifty thousand votes.

Beyond the new APC leaders to emerge from the March 26 National Convention, how is the APC going to take steps to block bad leaders such as His Excellency Yahaya Bello from emerging as standard bearers of the party for 2023 elections ? The case of His Excellency Yahaya Bello requires some bold decisions by the APC as a party, which should include acknowledging that his actions as Kogi Governor contradict the commitment of the party for good governance as represented by the provisions of the APC constitution and manifesto. Take the case of N19.3 billion salary bailout given to Kogi State by the Federal Government, which was deposited in an unlawful bank account domiciled with Sterling Bank Plc. The money was recovered in November 2021 by the EFCC and returned to the CBN.

Interestingly, while the controversy of the seizure of the N19.3 billion salary bailout is yet to be resolved, in February 2022, Kogi State announced the commencement of payment of N30,000 minimum wage. By the end of February 2022, media reports emerged that Kogi State workers, instead of receiving the new minimum wage of N30,000, received only percentages of their old salaries, some as low as only 25%. Part of the media reports suggest that there are workers who have received as low as N2,000 as salary for February 2022. Amid all these, His Excellency Yahaya Bello is going round the country shamelessly campaigning for his so-called emergence as the presidential candidate of the APC for 2023. With such records of anti-people and anti-workers policies, APC must take steps to disclaim the government of Kogi State under Governor Yahaya Bello. In addition, he is one of the few APC leaders collaborating with His Excellency Mai Mala to undermine the decision to organise the convention of the APC, perhaps in expectation that His Excellency Mai Mala, as APC Chairman, will manipulate the process of electing the APC’s presidential candidate in his (Yahaya Bello) favour.

READ ALSO: Rescuing The APC: A Task For All Party Leaders

We must appeal to all APC leaders, especially governors, to recognise that the weight of political responsibility of producing new leaders for the APC is in fact a very strong test of whether the party can continue to justifiably earn the confidence of Nigerians. Will leaders, especially governors, undertake the crucial task of performing background checks for aspiring candidates and dispassionately, even if painfully, select both party leaders and party candidates for elections, beyond issues of loyalty? The crucial task before APC leaders is to ensure that leadership selection process produces trustworthy leaders both as party leaders and as candidates for elections.

In fact, the quality of party leaders will substantially determine the quality of candidates the party will present for elections. Once party leaders make the mistake of producing bureau de change managers as APC leaders during the March 26, 2022 National Convention, the probability will be very high that there will be many bad eggs emerging as standard bearers of the party for the 2023 elections. Already PDP leaders have dug their political grave when for instance they elected people who shared $2.1 billion meant for arms procurement to fight insecurity as national leaders of the PDP. Till today, PDP leaders continue to arrogantly and contemptuously ignore this foundational reality of public trust in politics. This is among many other factors why the PDP is still very unpopular among Nigerians. APC must fundamentally take every step necessary to produce new orientation for political leadership recruitment in the country as we approach the 2023 elections.

Therefore, starting with the March 26, 2022 APC National Convention, APC leaders, especially governors should demonstrate stronger commitment towards recruiting tested and trustworthy leaders. As much as possible, situations whereby good leaders only emerge ‘accidentally’ must begin to be reversed in Nigeria based on carefully planned initiatives under the APC. As part of the process of planning for the emergence of trustworthy leaders’ issues of getting current leaders to account for their actions or inactions will be necessary. For instance, His Excellency Mai Mala should be made to account for all the allegations of extorting money from aspiring candidates and party leaders. It is only when His Excellency Mai Mala is made to account for such charges that successor leaders would avoid toying such a path. Similarly, there should be an investigation into the conduct of party primary in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun to determine the truth or otherwise of the allegation of corruption against His Excellency Mai Mala.

READ ALSO: APC And Surrogate Politics Of Timid Leaders

APC, as a party, need to also take a special interest in what is going on in Kogi State. It is embarrassing that a government produced by the party will demonstrate that level of rascality. If PDP can tolerate such public rascality as was the case under for instance the inglorious era of Ayodele Fayose in Ekiti and many other PDP state governments across the country, APC must decisively disown what is coming out of Kogi State under Governor Yahaya Bello. If necessary, APC should declare opposition to what is emerging as the governance credentials of Governor Yahaya Bello, including taking every necessary step to save the people of Kogi State from the influence of Yahaya Bello in determining who succeeds him.

Every step must be taken to ensure that APC emerges as a distinctively different party from PDP and other parties especially on the question of leadership recruitment. While in the case of PDP and other parties, issues of leadership recruitment are considered as given based on the received wisdoms of political leaders, in APC these issues are being debated and contested, which explains all the dynamics around the March 26, 2022 APC National Convention. If anything, the contest for the emergence of trustworthy political leaders in APC is a contest for the unfettered development of Nigerian democracy. Nigerian democracy cannot develop unless the right conditions within parties are created for the emergence of trustworthy leaders both as party leaders and candidates for election. May Allah (SWT) continue to guide both leaders and members of APC to strengthen internal contest for the emergence of trustworthy leaders. May He also give victory to only trustworthy people to emerge both as leaders of APC and candidates. May He also save the party and all the structures of government at all levels from falling into the hands of bureau de change leaders. Amin!

Dr Lukman is a freelance APC campaigner. smlukman@gmail.com

 

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Opinion

2023, Ideology And Issue-based Politics: Where Did We Miss It?

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2023, Ideology And Issue-based Politics: Where Did We Miss It?

By
Tunji Olaopa

The significant year 2023 is still some eight months away, but the Nigerian political space is already feeling the weight and heat of electoral matters, especially with several candidates—presidential and gubernatorial—already signaling their intentions to contest. As at the writing of this piece, eighteen candidates from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have already signaled their intention to contest the position presently occupied by President Muhammadu Buhari. This number of candidates, and as many that would be joining the list, only signals how critical the year 2023 has become in Nigeria’s political calculation. And this is because the last seven years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s (PMB) administration has been a very rough ride and confounding, especially in security and governance terms.

Given current reality with critical development indices, the crisis of the Nigerian state and the future of the Nigerian project of national integration have become somewhat more complex in measures that will be more demanding for future leadership. Under the onslaught of the Boko Haram insurgents and the banditry associated with the Fulani herdsmen, the security problem has become increasingly worse, with kidnapping, banditry and criminality becoming rampant across the country. The security predicament is further compounded by governance matters—from poverty to unemployment to industrial unrest and galloping inflation. Fortunately, or unfortunately, those who want Buhari’s seat will also soon begin to campaign on the capacity to restitute the policy deficits of the current administration around security and governance. And Nigerians would be expected to make a tough choice at the polls, come 2023.

For me, the most critical absence in the gathering political storm for 2023 is the lack of any ideological frames around which to hang the tussles and electoral campaigns of the parties that are emerging and fielding candidates at both the presidential and gubernatorial levels. In other words, the two political parties—APC and PDP—both are distinguished by their conspicuous lack of ideological base around which significant issues, from security and the economy to public service reform and unemployment, can be distinctly articulated as campaign manifestoes. As part of her political development after independence, Nigeria adopted presidentialism from the political experience of the United States. The concept of presidentialism in the US gave birth to two ideologically rooted parties, the Republican and Democratic parties. Every significant issue in the American political space—from same sex marriage to racism—are determined on the spectrum of liberalism and conservatism around which the two parties revolve. And this is the backbone that speaks to the political dynamics that uphold good governance.

READ ALSO: Joseph Makoju: A Patriot Extraordinary And Professional Exemplar

Good or bad governance is determined by the kind of politics that the political class play with the lives of their citizens. The objective of all political parties everywhere in the world is to contest for power as a means to an end, which is the determination of the trajectory of development that the ideology the party holds will take the country. An ideology therefore becomes a vision of politics attached to development. Thus, for instance, while Republicans prefer the free-market approach to healthcare that prevents the government from intervening in healthcare provision, the Democrats queue behind the universal health coverage and single-payer system. Thus, when ideological political parties gain control of political power, there is already a blueprint of policies and actions to be taken on behalf of the citizens. This is what happens in the United States. This is also what happens in Britain, and indeed in Europe. It is a far cry from the clueless politics that goes on in Nigeria where the political class is devoid of ideologies that determine what to do on significant issues.

We can then begin to ask the fundamental question that should circumscribe our thinking about 2023: the relationship between ideological and issue-based politics and good governance; and why the future of Nigeria depends sorely on what ideology we need to run the Nigerian state and make development happen for the citizens. In 2015, PMB rode to power on an integrity brand and an uninterrogated change agenda—the no-nonsense mien of a never-smiling president who will discipline the place and restore security of life and property. The closer we move to 2023, the more it is dawning again on us that ethnicity, religion and the power of incumbency remain the critical factors that would determine who becomes the president in 2023. And the laugh seems to be at the expense of me and all those who expect that the Nigerian political climate is ripe for an issue-based political engagement among the political parties. This is the lesson I got in a conversation with a gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 election. I was bristling in my analysis of how his adoption of strategic communication could serve as the platform for an ideology-rooted engagement. He laughed at me! His response: people are not concerned with issue-based politics on the campaign field. All that matters is “stomach infrastructure”!

And yet, this was not how the Nigerian state and her politics were envisioned and inaugurated. Nigeria’s nation-building and political development trajectory began most significantly with the best political motif. Pre-independence campaign was energized by ideology-rooted nationalist movements. For instance, the Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact became the source of a frenzied ideological opposition motivated by pan-Africanism and the non-aligned movement. This was the type of ideological contestations around which the political parties, especially in the First Republic, were known for. Indeed, the nationalists were confronted with the future prospect of a nation that had just emerged from the womb of colonialism. It is in this context that we can understand the Nigeria-as-mere-geographical-expression thesis of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the diarchy ideological recommendation of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. No one would forget the political rivalry between the Action Group, Northern People’s Congress and the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon (as well as the reincarnation of the rivalry between the NPN and the UPN). Or the People’s Redemption Party of Mallam Aminu Kano. Indeed, the Nigerian Political Bureau, set up by the regime of President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, had fundamental ideological recommendations that are still relevant for putting Nigeria together on a firm political footing. Nigeria’s return to democratic rule, signaled by the June 12 saga, also signaled the ideological extent that Nigerians could go in tracking political development in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Retrieving The Philosophy In The ‘Doctor of Philosophy – PhD’ Degree In Nigeria

The question now is: where did all this go? Where did we miss it? What has happened to the type of political contestations that enlivened political engagement from the post-independence period all through the First to the Second Republics? This is a fundamental question that becomes all the more insistent against the background of bare-faced power grab of the existing political parties without the complement of an ideology that constitutes a blueprint for ordering Nigeria’s future. And if the political parties lack a sense of history that it is ideology that shapes the political development of a state for good or for ill, how then can they be placed in the seat of power to run the most populous black nation on earth? How can national development and national integration ever happen in Nigeria if ethnic jingoists, religious fundamentalists and greedy politicians are the ones that constitute the choice of who to vote for? Truth be told, neither the APC nor the PDP has the organizing frameworks to dimension the future of the Nigerian state, especially in terms of political education, mass mobilization, interest aggregation and delimiting national discourse about Nigeria’s future. Which is why the tomfoolery of decamping from one side to the other has become such a normal play for politicians.

Come 2023, Nigeria would be committing another eight years of her future to a set of political office holders who have no sense of political history, ideological commitment or a vision of where Nigeria ought to head. The political space will soon be awash with obscene money taken from the common treasury, and deployed to seal the critical voices, especially of the youths that ought to be stringent in asking for vision, and blueprints and ideology. But once money has exchanged hands, the unscrupulous politicians are already given the unbridled licence to ransack Nigeria’s treasuries for their personal and selfish ends. And 2023 to 2026, and perhaps beyond, would have become a wasted effort in consolidating Nigeria’s future. If this scenario is possible, why are we not asking the right questions about 2023? Why are we not already signaling the fundamental significance of ideologically-rooted and issue-based politics as the benchmark around which we can begin to engage with all the political parties already jostling for political power? Why are the individuals more important than the critical questions we ought to be asking?

Prof. Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .
tolaopa2003@gmail.com

 

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Opinion

Dear Deborah Samuel,

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Dear Deborah Samuel,

By

Omoh Giwa

If a bird is dancing on the road, the thing drumming for it is in the bush, an Igbo proverb so apt, it seems appropriate to break the ice.

I will understand if in your anger and repulsion, you refuse to read any communique from the death trap that’s Nigeria. I cannot begin to imagine the pains and affliction you experienced at the hands of your accusers. I am further burdened with guilt at my inability to effect change but write political missives that are like drops of water in an ocean. This burden has manifested into nightmares and anxiety especially when I watched the video of your lifeless body, smashed skull in a pink attire. It seemed ridiculous when I read that your crime was blasphemy. A quick Google search showed that this is not a crime according to the laws of our country except in a Sharia Court. I became perplexed when I realised your name implies a member of a different faith, as such you cannot and should not be judged by those laws but here we are.

Blasphemy! Like the Pharisees accused Jesus, they asked for your head on a spike because you asked for professionalism and etiquette amongst educators. You asked that a class whatsapp group not be used for the propagation of religious beliefs and they sentenced you to death. They played jury, judge and executioner, which in itself is a criminal offence according to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. (I know a certain professor who would receive a fate similar to Hector of Troy for this crime you have been accused of)

It feels like a thousand years ago I was writing a similar letter to Bamise Ayanwole and discussing how her only crime was being born a female in Nigeria. Did you hear about her murder up north or were you more interested in your books and daily activities? Did you spare a thought for the dear girl not knowing you would share a similar fate?

It is strange that we still have to explain the crime of extrajudicial slaughter and that there are people who would happily defend this publicly. Why should the punishment for blasphemy, be death yet political thieves and murderers have schools, mosques and streets named after them? How is this just and the desire of God? It is more worrisome that students of a college of education, a teacher-training school would have such fanatics and heretics as students. Yet people marvel at the emboldened nature of Boko Haram and Fulani bandits.

I saw a video of your last moments; you were running for your life while the mob chased you, I cried as I watched you fall and I imagined your life flashing before your eyes with loud chants of God is great in Arabic as I imagined myself in your shoes. This video was soon followed by an alleged testimony from your course mate who claims your last words were: what do you hope to achieve with this? Well, I have several conspiracy theories but let me exorcise the demonic questions beleaguering my heart.

Where were your friends, course mates, Christian fellowship members, college management, student union executives, class representatives, chief security officer and other security personnel charged with ensuring the safety of students within the college premises? None of the school’s leaders could do anything to save or attempt to save you? Where was the dean, student affairs? Did they have their hands tied like a certain professorial executive? There was no one powerful enough to invite security agents? Did the gatemen not notice an unusual inflow of people or does their duty stop at giving gate tags and harassing students concerning dress code?

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

Where were the lecturers? As I cannot understand the magical disappearance of only those in authority especially when your life depended on it, I am worried about our collective future. I wonder if your murder site has released a press statement on this issue.

It took the uproar on different social media sites before placatory action was taken by the state government through the governor’s spokesperson who refused to condemn the crime. I think you should know that a certain influential cleric and a certain billionaire son by marriage quoted Islamic and Biblical narratives in support of the crime (he has threatened to take legal steps against his detractors). I wonder when northern and southern presidential aspirants will condemn the crime and your murderers (a certain aspirant initially did, but recanted with speed when he saw the displeasure of his northern followers and posted in Hausa that the erring message did not originate from him and was not his viewpoint). I was initially sad that none spoke against your ordeal yet I do not want their bloody hands on your charred corpse.

It will interest you to note that after calls for justice, the Nigerian Police got involved but claimed that the culprit who boasted on video has absconded to Niger (they claim he is an imported terrorist that gained entry into the country on the basis to avenge his offended sensibilities). However, the police made a show of harassing two men who they claim were involved in your murder and charged them for criminal conspiracy and Inciting public disturbance. Your accusers have rallied over 34 lawyers to defend their actions and a barrister of the Supreme Court of Nigeria posted on his social media page that ‘may the curse of God be on you’.

You asked what they hoped to gain from your attack and death? Do you remember when integrity personae donated one million dollars to Afghanistan and we all wondered what the benefit of such evil benevolence was to the common man? You know that the accusers of reformed anarchist have always claimed he has intentions to Islamise the nation else why has the government refused to condemn extrajudicial killings in the name of religion?

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

Remember when youths in Nigeria unified to speak against police brutality (and they warned northern youths not to unite with their southern counterparts) and the army was deployed to combat insurrection and public disturbance? Well Sokoto youths went on a rampage in solidarity of their compatriots arrested for your murder and guess which security agents were invited without weapons to quell the disturbance? NSCDC that’s all… (need I remind you of the unintelligence of the agency whose official did not know the website of his organisation?). The government of Sokoto invited mere street vigilantes to quell a religious crisis that had cost a young woman her life.

There is a Yoruba proverb that says one whose house is on fire, does not hunt rats. This does not apply to Nigerians who have had fire burn their homes, farms, offices, places of religion that they have had to live on the streets for years. Yet guess what we are currently hunting?

I hope you find peace and rest, auf Wiedersehen comrade!

.Giwa writes from the University of Lagos. victoriagiwa12@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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