By Yusuf Abdullahi
In the name of Allah who states "Those who, should We establish them in the land, will keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and enjoin what is good and forbid evil; and Allah’s is the end of affairs" Q22:41. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His chosen servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
Before I proceed on the topic for the week, let me commiserate with the Muslim-Ummah on the recent remembrance of Sayyidah Fatima’s demise which reminds the faithful of the unfortunate tyranny meted against the great Messenger and his purified progeny. As usual, I emphasize the need to revisit her history to reflect the lessons therein and ascertain the truth from the widely circulated lies. Earlier on, the birth of Sayyidah Zainab -her daughter-, the audacious sister of Imam Husain was also commemorated. In line with her mother, Sayyida Zainab was an embodiment of sterling virtues and model of struggle against all forms of injustice.
The piece for this week is on the country’s unguarded politics. The idea is neither to elaborate on dividends of incumbent democratic dispensation, if any, nor campaign for any undoubtful politician with integrity, but to draw the attention on the need to ponder the country’s predicament for other possible options to the unending but increasing problems.
Soon, Nigeria may experience another landmark in its political history. This is a tug of war which the politicians play for mandate of the electorates. There are many lessons to learn in the Nigerian political dispensation. Yes, most of us have a different view regarding the politics and ultimate solution to the incessant problems bedeviling the country. However, as integral part of the country, we express our views and contribute our quota in all prevailing issues. As politicians struggle to assume mantle of leadership at various capacities, I wish to highlight few points.
THE BISED NIGERIAN POLITICS
For quite long, the Nigerian democracy was considered nascent. However, little developments were observed in the last electoral conduct by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which led to change of government. Democracy as the rule of majority that protects minority is not judiciously applied in Nigeria. Beside the permanent foreign powers’ influence, it was characterized by rigging, use of hooligans and other sorts of corrupt practices. That was why elections had not been free, fair and credible. This, coupled with other reasons, most responsible people decided to keep away from the irresponsible and embarrassing process. Number of registered voters had always supported this fact. Analytically, in most cases you find no political will from the candidates as the electorates who do not have the awareness and courage to task those elected to various offices with their campaign promises. This was why masses were always exploited with token amount or materials during election or selection process. As such the politicians would always find their ways to mantle of leadership by all means possible and never cared about the wishes of the electorates. In fact, most of them only meet them at the verge for re-election/selection or imposition! In contrast, we envisage a situation where both candidates and electorates could stand their tasks and obligations with regard to political process. This is what we witness where people are really enlightened.
LEADERSHIP IS A TRIAL
It is unfortunate that most politicians do not consider leadership a responsibility, but a means to exploit public resources and enrich themselves. One could easily notice how they misuse the opportunity to amass wealth for themselves, families and associates disregarding their mandates. The essence of governance is to ensure justice and improve socio-economic well being of the society. The principal sectors of our national life in Nigeria are in very difficult situation. Security, agriculture, power, education, health, aviation, water and petroleum resources.
The most disheartening and disturbing problem is corruption which is the root cause of all evils the country faces. Corruption is relative, spatial and temporal covering stealing, embezzlement, misappropriation, vandalism and money laundering among others. This predicament has been on the increase despite several agencies established to tackle it. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Bureau of Public Conduct (BPC) are known but are more of either a toothless dogs or a remotely guided political missiles! We may ask; why is corruption on the increase? When could the menace come to an end? What category of people are the most involved? Who really cares about the country? Do the leaders really love and care? What kind of patriotism and attachment do successive Nigerian leaders have for their fatherland? What is the prevailing public poll regarding the country’s unfortunate situation? One may ask continuously.
A major problem due to man’s misunderstanding of himself. He is basically on trial, trial in the sense that he was created to serve as Allah’s vicegerent on earth. In other words to serve Allah and live in peace and love according to His commands. So we are all on trial; the leader, the led, the rich, the poor and everyone! Therefore, Allah has expectations on man irrespective of his social status just as the masses have their expectations on the leaders and all are accountable to Allah, the Most High.
KEEPING TO THE PEOPLE’S MANDATE
Politicians get access to mantle of leadership on the platform of political parties which have their manifestos. The constitution on the other hand has specified terms of reference and powers for political office holders with a view to serving the people harmoniously. During political campaigns and rallies, candidates promise to fulfill the yearnings of the electorates in a multifaceted dimension which they most unfortunately ignore after election. Imperatively, leaders should understand and play the right role as custodians of the people. As such, they should work around the clock to the satisfaction of the populace. To elaborate a little, as far as Nigeria is concerned, the issue of security is the most important now, as no meaningful development could be achieved without a viable security measures put in place. But given the situation, who is secure? Probably the politicians in power! Paradoxically, the situation increasingly worsens with the inflation of its budget. There is always one crisis or the other engulfing uncountable lives and property. Yes, it’s a collective responsibility, but the major task remains with the government. Another important sector to mention is health which is wealth according to a popular adage. The critical situation of our country paves way for the rich to Europe, Asia and some parts of Africa leaving the poor helpless behind. Our education sector also suffers historic setback witnessing students trooping to Malaysia, Uganda, Ghana and other places on continuous increase. Beside moral implication, these countries generate large revenues in turn! Undoubtedly, lack of piety is the root cause of this corruption especially where custodians boast of leadership but ignore their responsibilities and oath of offices. Allah states “whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many of them He grants forgiveness” Q26:31
THE TASK ON THE POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS
An excerpt from the governance of the Jurist, a compendium of thirteen speeches of Imam Khomeini delivered at Najaf in ,1970 reads "the scholars of Islam have a duty to struggle against all attempts by oppressors to establish a monopoly over the sources of wealth or to make illicit use of them. They must not allow the masses to remain hungry and deprived while plundering oppressors usurp the sources of wealth and live in opulence. The Commander of the faithful (As) says; I have accepted the task of government because Allah, Exalted and Almighty, has exacted from the scholars of Islam a pledge not to sit silent and idle in the face of gluttony and plundering of the oppressors on one hand and the hunger and deprivation of the oppressed on the other". The full text of the passage from Nahjul Balagha, sermon 3: "I swear by Him Who causes the seed to open and creates the souls of all living things that were it not for the presence of those who have come to swear allegiance to me, were it not for the obligation of rulership now imposed upon me by the availability of aid and support, and were it not for the pledge that Allah has taken from the scholars of Islam not to remain silent in the face of the gluttony and plundering of the oppressors on one hand and harrowing hunger and deprivation of the oppressed on the other, were it not for all of this, then I would abandon the reins of government and in no way seek it. You would see that this world of yours, with all its position and rank, is less in my eyes than the moisture that comes from the sneeze of a goat" The Commander of the faithful has also, as contained in Nahjul Balagha, letter 47, entrusted his great offspring in his celebrated testament; be an enemy to the oppressor and helper to the oppressed". As such, the Imam stressed "A clergyman should be such that when people see him, they should remember the messenger of Allah (s). You have accepted this heavy responsibility and it is you that should guide this people to the end" 1979. Therefore, a lot is expected from stakeholders on the right awareness, peaceful coexistence and socio-economic stability of the society; So the politicians, the elite, the business class and Islamic scholars -whose role is relatively more influential provided they remain attached to Allah- must play their respective roles to achieve the desired goals. Therefore, we must know and enlighten the public that leadership or political power is not a privilege or an opportunity to achieve personal gains, but a well mandated-obligation answerable to people, and most importantly to Allah the Most High. At this point, I urge the electorates to remain inquisitive on campaign promises and remind the politicians on the need to strictly keep to their words and fear Allah, the omnipresent, the creator and disposer of all affairs as they will obviously account here and hereafter.
While praying to Allah to reward the oppressed Sheikh for his guidance in all directions, I emphasize the need for his unconditional release along with all his disciples.