(Prof Salisu Shehu replied by writing an article. You may wish to read it, below)
“This is a headline made out of Dr. Gumi’s interview with the Punch of Saturday 7 July, 2018. I wished Dr. Gumi would make this kind of assertion in public in Maiduguri or Damaturu or YOLA. These, unarguably, are both the flashpoints and centrepoints of the Boko Haram insurgency. Let Dr. Gumi go and make such kind of pronouncement there and let’s see if he would come out safe. No, he doesn’t need to go as far as Adamawa, or Borno or Yobe. Let him go to a motor garage in Bauchi or Gombe or Azare where tens of people were killed several times because of bomb blasts.
Of course if the people pounce on him, he will say that their action was a proof of their ignorance. He has already called them as such in the said interview published by Punch on Saturday. He said: “Why are people shivering because of him (Buhari) because he has a team of illiterate, fanatical followers? We can deal with them. They should not hold us to ransom. He is a victim of this ignorant, unemployed and senseless followership”.
Those are Dr. Gumi’s words, as he apparently refers to his fellow Muslims in the North, the very people he wants to convince to reason with him. Indeed they are the primary listeners of his tafsir and other ta’alim sessions and lessons. They are to him, “illiterate, fanatical followers” of Buhari. They are, again he says, “ignorant, unemployed, and senseless fellowship”. No wonder, because of these kinds of uncharitable and derogatory descriptions of his people, to whom he renders tafsir, usually aired to them through several radio stations, Dr. Gumi has suddenly become the darling of the southern press, who are very much known for their hate, mischief, vilification and media terrorism against Islam and Muslims generally, and the North in particular.
When I read the above headline, attributed to Dr. Gumi, I took time to read the text of the interview he granted to Punch on Saturday. I found that the headline was a paraphrase of his words, not quoting him verbatim. The headline, in any case, was an accurate and valid reflection of his statement. He made, in his typical manner of condemning whatever he dislikes, very sweeping statement that things are generally and altogether worse under Buhari than Jonathan, including security. Read his statement below:
“Definitely, the situation now is worse. The economy is worse. Feeding is a problem; medical care is a problem. There are problems everywhere. Nigeria is down. Nobody is secure”.
While Dr.Gumi can be taken up on each of those claims depending on which angle or point of view or political opinion one was coming from, it is on the matter of security that I intend to engage him. The headline quoted above did not exaggerate nor distort Dr. Gumi’s assertion. He said, “definitely, the situation is now worse” And he further said, “nobody is secure”. This is the particular point on which I intend to take him up. And I say nothing could be unfair, nothing could be untrue, indeed nothing could be mischievous than this assertion. The truth of the matter is that, under Jonathan, the entire Northeast and Northwest (including Gumi’s Kaduna) , and part of the Northcentral were under siege.
Dr. Gumi knows well that the Qur’an enjoins us to be fair in our pronouncements even if it waif against our kind or indeed against our wishes. He knows also that the Qur’an commands us to be just in our dealing even to persons or people we hate. Indeed, Dr. Gumi certainly knows that the Qur’an is so fair even to the alcohol and gambling, acknowledging that there is little benefit in them but their evil is far greater. But will all that, he would not care to acknowledge certain aspects of achievements and breakthroughs made by the Buhari administration in terms of security. He said, the situation was worse than Jonathan and that nobody was secure.
Why it becomes necessary to respond to this unfair pronouncement or assertion is because the truth, in this regard, certainly has been turned on its head. If left to pass like that, history would have been falsified and distorted. Indeed history will not pity us, neither will it forgive us if we allow this to go unchallenged. While I will not accuse Dr. Gumi of harboring pathological hate for the person of PMB, nor accuse him of speaking for certain political interests, I can, however, state albeit confidently that, because he takes his critilcisms too far, and in some cases unconscionably, his passion obviously and usually overrides his sense of fairness and judgment.
Lest it be mistaken, I do not intend to hold brief for the Federal Government over the killings going on in the country. Yes. Government must be told the truth. It must rise up to its responsibility and indeed to people’s expectations on securing and protecting the lives and property of the citizens. Instructively, security is one of the 3-point agenda of this administration. However, Gumi’s assertion that security is worse now than under Jonathan is not true.
My intention here, therefore, is to debunk the wrong assertion made by Dr. Gumi on security. Like I said, that was untrue and, to a certain extent, mischievous. The point has been made that during Jonathan, the entire North was under siege and was held hostage. This can be illustrated in many ways.
First of all the three fronline states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa were for several months under a state of emergency. More than a dozen local government areas were invaded and controlled by Boko Haram. People in these three states always had to close their shops, markets, business areas and places of worship and retire home immediately after Maghrib. At worst times they had to rush to their homes after Asr prayer. Motorbikes were outlawed whether commercial or private. In fact, even small children in Maiduguri could differentiate between IEDs and Military-branded bombs because of the frequency of the incidents of explosions in both public/commercial and residential areas. It would be difficult to count the number of times innocent travelers/commuters were stopped and slaughtered along the Damaturu – Maiduguri highway, and other highways within and around those enclaves. Now all these, except for few incidents occurring, have become history and we pray unto Allah never to allow a return to this horrible situation.
All over the Northeast and most part of the Northwest people would not be allowed access to the mosques or churches unless they went through security screening regimes and exercises. Even in khams as-salawat mosques within neighborhoods everybody must be searched before entering the mosques. Sometimes, our children and wards, who suddenly but necessarily turned to be security/agaji personnel, were the ones that used to search us. They would not allow you to go into the mosque without searching you because, perhaps you are their father or uncle. This is how bad the situation was, yet Dr. Gumi would say that we are worse off now? That nobody is secure now? How untrue? ! How false!! How mischievous!!!.
Far away from the Northeast for example in Kano, one can recall the horrible conditions we had to live and the sufferings we had to pass through. It was such a bleak and sordid situation that any place and occasion of gathering was a potential target for suicide bombers. So Sallah (Eid) praying grounds, Jumu’ah mosques (remember the KANO CENTRAL JUMU’AH MOSQUE INCIDENT?), schools and HIGHER institutions of learning (REMEMBER BUK and FCE KANO?), filling stations, etc all became cheap targets for those wicked killers. People began to be warned to avoid thick crowds. Spell of doom was cast.
Has Gumi forgotten so soon that even our leaders were targeted for the kill? Would anyone think that the late Mai Martaba Sarkin Kano, Alhaj Ado Bayero (rahimahullah) would be gruesomely attacked and waylaid, not on a highway, but right in Kano? Would any one think that the mammoth crowd that gathered to witness the closure of Ramadan tafsir by Sheikh Tahir Usman Bauchi would also be attacked by suicide bombers?
Just before ending this piece let me remind Dr. Gumi what he actually knows but deliberately avoided for reasons best known to him. How many security checkpoints were there Dr.? BETWEEN KANO AND KADUNA? OR YET BETWEEN KADUNA AND ABUJA? It used to take us between 3 to 6 hours (as the case may be) to undertake a journey of two hours between Kano and Kaduna or Kaduna and Abuja. While moving in the traffic grid at check points there was the ignominious fear of possible explosion from any vehicle in the traffic, as it did happen at certain instances. Now all these have gone, in sha Allah for good.
Right inside Kaduna metropolis, Dr. Gumi, I believe cannot remember how many security check points there were because of the state of fear and insecurity. But just to remind him, just after Sultan Bello Mosque on the main, busiest, most central and most important road in Kaduna there was a check point. Again, I believe Dr. Gumi would also not forget that between Arewa House and NAF Club on Rabah Road there was another checkpoint. Our highways and metropolitan roads within our cities were all dotted with these checkpoints while we used to pass through the frightening screening by terror-looking, fully armed mobile police and military officers.
The situation was the same in Kano. I will never forget the tortuous journey that we had to be going through almost 5days of the week, for several months between the Old Campus and New Campus of Bayero University, Kano. Under normal circumstances, one would take only 8 to 10 minutes in a car. But during that regime of insecurity it used to be a minimum of 30 minutes. At worst times it would take 1 hour.
It is always unpleasant to remember how economic and commercial activities were shrinking in Kano. Merchants who used to come for bulk purchases of goods from the Northeast and indeed from the Chad, Cameroon and Central Africa were not coming in droves as before. Kantin Kwari was sinking. It was difficult for those traders and merchants to traverse the Northeast and come. It was such a terrible situation. But Alhamdulillah, now all these have become history.
The question that still remains to ask Dr. Gumi is would you still say the security situation is worse now?
What about the statistics? Has Dr. Gumi forgotten that in just one swoop about three thousand people were killed in Baga on a Market day? Has Dr. Gumi forgotten the death toll in the Kasuwar Shanu (Kara) attack in Potiskum? Has Dr. Gumi also forgotten that Mubi, as big as it is was ransacked, invaded and taken over by Boko Haram? Has Dr. Gumi forgotten that even Abuja wasn’t safe because UN building, Nyanya motor park, Madalla, etc were all attacked by suicide bombers?
What may even be more surprising is that Dr. Gumi has forgotten that the security forces were more terrorised, more traumatized and frightened than the people they were supposed to be protecting. Not just that they were running and leaving their weapons behind for Boko Haram to take as booty, they barricaded all their barracks, stations, installations, etc. Motorists would either have to change their ways or go through humiliating search and check or for motorbikes they had to come down and push it.
That was our condition during the Jonathan regime. I took time to recall and put down theses facts first to remind Dr. Gumi that his assertion was wrong. Most importantly however, I did this so that history will be on the side of the truth. May Allah forgive us our mistakes and errors and reward us for our efforts however little they are.
May Allah not allow a repeat of that very terrible condition. May He give the leaders the wisdom, will and power to overcome the prevailing security challenges in the country for our common good now, and for the unforseen future. He has power over everything. Alhamdulillah.”
By Prof Salisu Shehu, BUK
February 18, 2019
February 18, 2019
February 18, 2019
February 18, 2019