By Bilyamin Abdulmumin
The nation has woken up with yet another round of controversial news, as the committee to the National Assembly mosque, Apo legislative quarters Abuja, deemed it fit to suspend the renowned Islamic cleric Sheikh Nuru Khalil before sacking him later. The committee cited incitement and lack of showing remorse as reasons for the suspension and the final sacking, respectively.
Last week’s Friday prayer sermon the Sheikh delivered was the action that earned him the sack. In the sermon, reeling from the Abuja-Kaduna train attack tragedy, the Sheikh supported a boycott of the upcoming 2023 general election should the government fail to protect the lives of Nigerians. This message immediately went viral to generate a heated debate among the public on social media.
Those who support the message have some reasons. Because it was just history that repeated itself; before the 2015 general election, Nigeria, especially the North, was literally on fire. Amidst the chaos majority of the northern Islamic clerics openly criticized the government of the day – PDP, while drumming support for the opposition – APC.
Fast forward, seven years later, the table has turned. The APC is in charge, and similar to the eve period of the 2015 general election, the insecurity is threatening the country again. So, for this category of view, what is good for the goose should also be good for the gender.
Some try to strike a balance. According to these people, the Sheikh’s sermon was right, but they argue that leadership comes with responsibility. So, a leader with a large audience has both privilege and responsibility. Some of these responsibilities are eschewing opinion, unlike any ordinary person who doesn’t mince words. In other words, the Sheik should have a tread with caution.
Some categories look at it from the extremism tendency. According to them, some extremists, such as Muhammad Yusuf, the Boko haram leader, started as a spokesperson to the masses. First, he became a fierce critic of the government, but later, when his antics escalated to insurgency, those masses clapping for him became the most victims in the end.
Some sought to politicize the controversy. According to them, the Sheikh has pitched a tent around the opposition – PDP, so they claim he has been a critic of the Buhari government for the last seven years. These critics sealed their arguments with the allegations that the Sheikh was appointed an Imam at a mosque built by Atiku Abubakar, a new Jumu’at Mosque behind the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) Quarters, Abuja.
The peculiarity of any argument is that if anyone is allowed to explain his view, one will somehow see a reason for their claim. The above four viewpoints on the same thing are good examples.
By and large, if there is anything this raging debate achieved, it is one thing: it made Nigerians forget the series of other pressing issues like the ASUU strike, fuel scarcity, the naira to dollar depreciation, VP Osinbajo, Minister Pantami, and Farooq debates, even the plight of the actual victims of the attack (may theirs be a speedy release, harmless). One Nigerian coined this scenario: “one rising issue after another makes Nigerians forget their suffering; Nigerians live for the moment.”
Bilyamin Abdulmumin is a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering at ABU Zaria. He is also an activist for a better, informed society.