We at the Centre for Cultural and Religious Rights, CECCUR, bemoan the murderous activities of certain groups and individuals acting collectively or as individuals across the country have remained permanently on increase without any hope of its recession anytime soon. We find the general atmosphere disheartening and very worrisome.
From the Boko Haram killings to the massacre of Ajatu people in the North-central by the continually rampaging Herdsmen, from the beheading of a 75 years old woman in Kano to the hacking to death of an Evangelist (a 42 years old mother 7) in Abuja, the tales of mindless blood-letting is the same.
The inhumanness and barbarism represented in the endless list of killings and the manner human lives have been wasted in all the tales of woe is beyond rational comprehension in a world that has supposedly passed through the ages of barbarism, savagery and have opted for civilization. At the background of these sad killings are hatred, intolerance, over-zealousness, and ego added with identity issues.
The killings are so condemnable that words are lacking to express their gruesomeness and dialectics seem to be failing in addressing the situations where loss of lives could have been avoided. This is why as a people and country, it is imperative to collectively confront the situations that portray us like animals, as we know even ‘dogs don’t eat dogs’.
At the Centre for Cultural and Religious Rights, CECURR, we are convinced that, at this stage, there is the dire need to interrogate and deconstruct the background to these tragic incidences which have remained incessant and apparently undying so as to be able to identify the immediate and remote causes. This is what will help in finding solutions to the trend of senseless killings in the name of religion and ethnicity.
It is this principle that should form the basis upon which the issue is addressed. Legislations and even military actions obviously have not been very effective because the issues involved are linked to deeply seated sentiments of the people which vary proportionally to their beliefs; ethnic or political divide.
As a result, we are convinced that it is only education, dialogue, promotion of tolerance and unity that can assuage this prevalent situation nationally and globally. Education, because it takes an ignorant mind to kill over tolerable situations, dialogue because all ‘war-wars’ achieve nothing without ‘jaw-jaw’ (reasoning), tolerance and peace because no matter what, there is only one humanity! Moreover, human life is supposed to be sacred.
We therefore call on the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal government to be preemptive in identifying potentially crisis prone groupings and differentiations with a view to nip the fruits of hatred, ethnicity and religious bigotry in bud by deploying the foregoing strategy.
Our people must be educated on the concepts of ‘freedom’ and ‘tolerance’. Freedom does not translate to infringing on what constitute the freedom of the other person and tolerance understands our unavoidable differences. Situations where mosques, churches, traditional worships, party mongers etc go about their activities without consideration and for respect the rights of other persons will never foster harmonious co-existence.
Overzealousness on the part of some adherents of faiths, identities or affiliations contributes to inflaming these barbaric acts. One could ask, is it compulsory or correct for people to mount loudspeakers right next to the eardrums of someone else who is dying to catch some sleep? Introspection is really required with the spate of these senseless killings going on unabated.
The herdsmen and their rampages for instance are basically for economic reasons and probably twined with hatred grown from economic disharmony. But the truth is that there is nothing to justify their murderous acts and humanness should tell any humane human that he/she should not kill for economic reasons or that of hatred.
It is important to note that these incessant killings; the hatred and seeming national disunity are linkable to the undying National question which inspired and gave birth to the call for a Sovereign National Conference since the late 80s. A Sovereign National Conference organized by the people themselves is the one and only way to resolve the National question that continues to linger and rears its disturbing head almost at all facets of our National life. This was what the original Campaign for Democracy (CD) focused its attention on since early 90s but never achieved because of intrinsic but unwarranted fear by the successive government that they would lose power of governing to the Conference!
We believe that an SNC is the beginning of true nationhood because that is where the basis of our unity and co-existence religiously, economically, politically and culturally can be agreed or disagreed upon. The alternative is to keep an unstable geographical expression pretentiously described as country but lacks the socio-moral and political capacity to run under a common constitution since it was hitherto constituted under a defective, thus illegitimate arrangement.
To achieve an SNC requires a people in defiance and willing to overhaul the system politically and economically in the equation called ‘Nigeria’ which has persistently been described as a ‘lopsided’ arrangement and ‘marriage of convenience’ in some quarters.
The government must address these killings wholesomely; it must first put in everything it takes to protect lives and property, then it must address the varied grievances of the people from the perspective of understanding their strong sentiments rather than derogating them. The government must emphasize the secular status of Nigeria rather than tacit approval for a particular religion or other; governance must be de-tribalised, culture must stop being handled as a monolith.
Let us all shun and eschew ethnic, religious and politico-economic intolerance; promote unity, transparency and Nationalism.
National Coordinator, CECURR
July 25, 2016