Author Topic: HE BAUCHI RELIGIOUS CONFLICT  (Read 1217 times)

Offline furtune

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« on: March 02, 2009, 11:57:43 AM »
he Bauchi religious conflict

ONCE again, inter-religious conflict erupted in the Northern part of the country recently, this time in Bauchi where about 11 persons were killed, a mosque, many churches, residential and business buildings were reportedly burnt in a mindless orgy of violence that, according to reports, began as a simple disagreement between two Islamic sects over the use of a mosque. Within a period of four days, rampaging youths grouped, re-grouped, re-armed and even enlarged their 'theatre of war' from the Federal Low Cost Housing Estate to the suburbs of the town including Gudu-Sayawa, Yelwa and Musal Lawal where they visited mayhem and destruction on perceived religious enemies and their places of worship.

The Secretary-General of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Mr. Samuel Salifu, speaking out of obvious frustration with the apparent powerlessness of the state to protect its citizens, has called for a law to allow the ownership of guns for self-defence purposes. Accusing the state government and security forces, of dereliction in their sworn duty to protect Christians and others, the CAN leader asked that the Federal Government should declare a state of emergency in Bauchi, Plateau and a number of other Northern states that have lately suffered, or are prone to, religious strife. Ominously, even the presidency has been found wanting.

Religious violence is occurring in this country with a frequency that we find shameful and therefore unacceptable. Nigeria is not the only mutlicultural and multireligious country in the West African sub-region. From Senegal through Ghana to Cameroun, the respective populations comprise people of different religious persuasions who are nevertheless sufficiently mature - in mind and in faith - to accept, respect, and live with the rights of other persons to adhere to their own choices and beliefs. Hardly do we hear inter-religious conflicts erupt in our smaller - but apparently more mature in this respect - neighbours. What then is the matter here?

It is increasingly obvious that many do not read their holy books well enough, or at all, or if they do, they lack an understanding of the respective teachings on tolerance, love and the taking of human lives for no just reason. The flocks are partly to blame, but the shepherds, the religious leaders and preachers must bear the burden of the irresponsible behaviour of their followers. We submit that most religious leaders have woefully failed to teach the whole truth contained in their books, to their followers but exploit the people's ignorance to prosecute personal and political agenda.

It must be said that these religious crises are being fed by an army of un-employed restless youths. We ask: how many jobs has the Bauchi government created since it came to power nearly two years ago? By what percentage has school enrolment in Bauchi State increased in the last two years? These are questions directed not to Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State alone, but to most other governors in the federation. To the extent that citizens are able, willing, and ready to work but cannot find any, it can be said that failure of governance - indicative of a bankrupt and inept leadership - is in part a root cause of recurring religious violence in the country.

CAN leader Salifu accuses both the Bauchi State government and security operatives of not doing enough to protect Christians. It is dangerous that this perception would be allowed to hold in the mind of a section of the community. Government has a constitutional duty to the effect that 'the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government' and the governor has a sworn duty to ' right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will...'

The law enforcement agencies, charged with holding the country together through thick and thin, must not allow themselves to be seen as siding with one party or other in cases of religious or indeed, any crisis. It is disheartening - and strange - that our intelligence services never ever pick up the signs of impending violence before mayhem is unleashed. And, when it happens, the response time of the police is terribly slow, they are almost always unable to contain it and soldiers have to be drawn into essentially civil society incidents. Inefficiency and divided loyalty within the law enforcement structure is a recipe for a divided country. We want to believe that this is not the desire of any responsible Nigerian.

The human, material and emotional cost of religious strife to our nation is enormous. Even now, Nigeria already has enough problems to contend with and we can only be very much worse off with distractive faith-driven crises while other nations are fully engaged in finding solutions to their economic and political and social problems.

We urge that sanity should prevail, that inter-religious bodies be up and doing to strengthen understanding among the faiths and that political and religious leaders do their only sacred duty to the people: guide and lead them aright.


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« on: March 02, 2009, 11:57:43 AM »


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