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Dr. Gumi’s letter and public response

By Ibrahim Usman
Dr. Gumi voiced out his grudges on the recent Arba’een symbolic trek by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria under His Eminence Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and there were series of rejoinders from some individuals. The rejoinder would have passed as a critical close up of the letter by concerned individuals.

However, the manner at which the Nigerian media carried the said rejoinders and turned it into a sort war of words between Dr. Gumi and Sheikh Zakzaky was of a great concern. In the first place, I cannot remember a time when Sheikh Zakzaky engaged in a war of words with anyone. The fact that some concerned individuals felt offended by Dr. Gumi’s letter and decided to respond did not mean that they were acting under the directive of Sheikh Zakzaky.


Contents of the rejoinders were very clear to any objective reader. Sheikh Zakzaky could not have addressed himself as “His Eminence”, if it were a direct response from him. The By-Line and use of “I” by the writer(s) were all pointers to the fact that it was an individual effort, and not a tailored or organizational response as some of the media portrayed.

The media sensationalized the rejoinders to attract readers, and also get cheap popularity. Most painful is the way Sheikh Zakzaky’s name was dragged into this controversy. It is worthy to note that, the Islamic Movement should not be seen to operate in the like manner of other organizational structures, where a councilor’s or director’s opinion can be translated into the government’s public policy. Sheikh Zakzaky has no “Media Aide”, “Spokesman”, “Public Relations Officer“ or “Press Secretary”. Yes, there could be media wing of the Islamic Movement promoting activities of the Movement, but never to speak for Sheikh Zakzaky.

There were rejoinders in the past on direct attack on the personality of Sheikh Zakzaky and the Islamic Movement that passed on with much concern. Dragging Sheikh Zakzaky into this controversy might be used to set the stage for ill-feelings among the Muslim Ummah, which the Sheikh was all the while trying to discourage.

Dr. Gumi could write such an open letter on the pages of newspapers, but Sheikh Zakzaky is a man of not too many words but actions. He has no time for war of words and controversies.