The takeover of Sambisa forest, the last enclave of the Boko Haram insurgents is the greatest New Year gift for all peace loving people here in Nigeria. What has been happening in the last seven years since Boko Haram started its insurgency has been the worst nightmare for all of us. And, if confronting and defeating Boko Haram is the only achievement of President Muhammadu Buhari, we will ever remain grateful to God for bringing him to just do that. If religion is for salvation, and all these killings and destruction by Boko Haram were done in the name of religion, then that is the greatest disservice to religion, especially Islam in whose name they supposedly carried out the insurgency.
To be honest, a lot of evil has been perpetrated on man by man throughout history. Hitler of Germany and his comrade Mussolini of Italy confronted the whole world during the second World War, 1939-45, during which millions lost their lives but they never said they were doing it in the name of Christianity, particularly in the case of Mussolini who was right there beside the Vatican, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Killing innocent people in the name of Islam is the greatest shame to Islam by the insurgents.
It must be understood that there’s a distinct Arab culture and a distinct Islamic culture, but the ordinary mind just think everything Arabic is Islamic, which isn’t correct. The Arabs have what they call honour death by which someone could kill himself or herself because of shame like pregnancy out of wedlock. In Islam, if you kill yourself you die an unbeliever. That is why this suicide bombing is alien to Islam. It got into world history only in 1982 when the Israelis invaded Lebanon and the Arabs had no means of confronting them except out of desperation resorting to strapping bombs in their bodies to blow themselves and their targets. It has no basis in Islamic history or teaching or any book.
Boko Haram came about as a result of ignorance, hopelessness and break down of social values. Anyone who understands religion cannot kill in the name of religion. It is only the ignorant who are misled into taking their lives or other people’s lives for nothing. Of course anyone who can kill himself or herself must have lost hope in life. There is also the aspect of breakdown of social values since these young boys and girls among them must have defied their parents and community leaders to do what they have been doing.
Thus, the beginning of the long term solution is to invest massively in education, all round education of all youth to drive away ignorance. Technical, scientific, vocational and general knowledge should be encouraged for all school age children to train knowledgeable, hardworking future citizens who will be tolerant too. In this regard, begging should be outlawed and all young and old street beggars should go back to their local government areas. They are the recruiting ground of all debased ideas wrongly ascribed to Islam. Why are almost all beggars Muslims when begging is not allowed in Islam? Something ought to be done quickly.
The traditional, community and religious leaders as well as parents have a big role to play in this regard. To earn back their respect and prestige, the traditional and religious leaders must be seen to be working for the people and in the interest of the people, not kowtowing to and hobnobbing with any government of the day however bad, or accumulating wealth from suspicious means. Right now, there is a vacuum as far as leadership in the communities is concerned. Governments at the local levels are not respected due to the quality of people running the affairs at those levels. The traditional and religious leaders are equally losing the respect they used to have too. It is this vacuum that saw the emergence and sustenance of the Boko Haram insurgency and others around the country.
Leaders must preach peace as enjoined by our culture and all the universal religions we know and profess here, which are Christianity and Islam. People ought to be made aware that what is happening in the Middle East is about land and politics not religion. Although majority of Arabs are Muslims there are many who are Christians too. So the fight between Israelis and Arabs is basically about land and power and must be seen as such. We Africans are condemning the injustice and oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis with the backing of world powers not because of religion but in the name of our common humanity.
In Islam, Christians and Jews are known as the People of the Book, because they believe in the same God that the Muslims believe in. And, no one can be a true Muslim until he or she believes in Jesus Christ (AS). Prophet Muhammad lived together with Jews and Christians in Medina peacefully. So where did these people killing innocent people in the name of Islam get their teachings? Even animals are to be treated with care and consideration in Islam not to talk of fellow human beings. In fact, the first Muslims were given sanctuary by a Christian King in Ethiopia here in Africa when they were persecuted in Mecca. It is time the people are taught the true religion which enjoins peace, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
Governments at federal, state and local levels must work for the people and strive to eliminate poverty and unemployment, especially among the youth. Our biggest asset are our people and it will be a waste if they are not trained to be productive. Nigeria is the anchor nation of the black race. We can not exhibit our potentials if there is hatred, poverty and backwardness instead of love, peace and progress. After all, we’re all Africans and we are human beings. History is on the side of the oppressed.