Ultimatum To Fulani Herdsmen: We Say A Big And Capital NO To Tribalism And Stereotyping!

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    By Imam Murtadha Gusau

    Saturday, 23/01/2021

    In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.

    All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

    Fellow Nigerians! As you all knows, the Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, has asked all Fulani herdsmen in his State to vacate forest reserves within the state. He also issued a seven-day ultimatum to them. He gave the ultimatum on Monday, 18/01/2021 while meeting with leaders of Hausa/Fulani and Ebira Communities in the state. The meeting held at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the Governor’s office, Alagabaka, Akure, the state capital. The Governor said the activities of the herdsmen have long been causing a threat to security in the state. He also shared his statement on his official Twitter handle for everyone to see.

    Also in Oyo State, a Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho, made good on his threat to expel Fulani herdsmen from Igangan in the State. Igangan is a community in Ibarapa North Local Government Area. Last Friday, Sunday Igboho and his supporters stormed the area and gave the Fulani one week to leave. He issued the deadline when he confronted the Sarkin Fulani, Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir. Sunday Igboho accused Sarkin Fulani subjects of killing Yoruba individuals. He listed the assassination of Oyo businessman, Fatai Aborode, Alhaja Serifat Adisa and her children, an Igangan prince, among others as their reasons of doing so. Sunday Igboho disclosed he acted on the request of traditional rulers in the State. The monarchs protested that they were helpless about incessant killings and kidnappings in their areas. But the Oyo State Government condemned the quit notice. Governor Seyi Makinde warned against eviction of any ethic group and vowed to deal with troublemakers. Sunday Igboho has called his bluff as he ordered the Fulani out on Friday.

    After the order, violence erupted in Igangan in the Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State yesterday Friday, when the popular Yoruba activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, reportedly stormed the Fulani settlement in the town to eject the Sarkin Fulani, Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir, and some other herdsmen accused of fuelling security problems in the area. Some reliable reports claimed that some persons were killed while properties worth several millions of naira were destroyed and set ablaze during the clash which occurred in the evening.

    Fellow Nigerians! Stereotypes of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria have been presented in various forms by the mass media in Nigerian culture. Stereotypical representations of Fulani herdsmen are often manifested in a society’s media, literature, theater and other creative expressions. These representations, which have been historically and predominantly negative, have adverse repercussions for Fulanis and generally Northerners in daily interactions and in current events. Also in some Nigerian textbooks, which theoretically should be less-creative expressions, similar negative and inaccurate stereotypes are also found for Fulanis and Northerners!

    Allah Almighty condemned the Stereotyping or punishing others for the crime of others in the Qur’an:

    “And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.” [Surah Fatir: 18]

    And one day, in Makkah, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) dropped a bombshell on his followers. He told them that all people are created equal:

    “All humans are descended from Adam and Eve,” said Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in his last known public speech. “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.”

    In this sermon, known as the Farewell Address, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) outlined the basic religious and ethical ideals of Islam, the religion he began preaching in the early seventh century. Tribal equality was one of them. Prophet Muhammad’s words jolted a society divided by notions of tribal and ethnic superiority.

    Today, with tribal tension and violence roiling contemporary Nigeria, Prophet (Peace be upon him) message is seen to create a special moral and ethical mandate for Nigerians to support the country’s anti-tribal movement.

    Islam with its universal concept of brotherhood rejects all artificial and man-made marks of distinction.

    When listening to the radio, reading newspapers, surfing the Net or watching television, we are confronted daily with the same sad news: Violence, crime, wars and disasters.

    This constant awareness of fear and tension should make us think what has triggered such violence and what can be done to end it. Any sensitive and compassionate person might question seriously the progress of our modern world.

    One of the main factors producing the differences between cultures and cultural attainment in the world is history rather than tribe.

    If tribal superiority is only a myth why then has tribe in the past played and continued to play a large part in world conflict today? Why in some areas do people argue that others are biologically inferior to them?

    Tribalism is the belief that a particular tribe is superior or inferior to another; that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. It is the belief that different tribes should remain segregated and apart from one another. Such tribal attitudes are abhorred and condemned in Islam. Allah Almighty says:

    “…We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous of you.” [Qur’an, 49:13]

    In reading this verse we understand that this message is not just for Muslims only because Allah is addressing all of humanity. As Muslims we are taught that we are one brotherhood, which is part of a larger brotherhood of humanity.

    Islam with its universal concept of this brotherhood rejects all artificial and man-made marks of distinction.

    No one can claim any superiority over the other based on tribe, race, region, colour, language or wealth and this is emphasised in the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) showing high regard of humanity irrespective of colour, tribe or race:

    “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.”

    A man once visited the Prophet’s Mosque and saw a group of people including Salman (from Persia), Suhaib, a Greek, and Bilal, an African. The man said:

    “If the (Madinan) tribes of Aws and Khazraj support Muhammad, they are his people. But what are these people doing here?”

    The Prophet (Peace be upon him) became angry when this was reported to him. He went to the Mosque and summoned people to prayer where he addressed them saying:

    “O people know that the Lord and Sustainer is One. Your ancestor is one, your faith is one. The Arabism of anyone of you is not from your mother or father. It is no more than a tongue (language). Whoever speaks Arabic is an Arab.”

    As Muslims, it is fundamental we believe that discriminatory exclusion based on tribe or race is alien to the spirit of our faith and in turn we should raise our children with this belief. We should instill in them that there are no excuses or reasons for tribalism or racism. It’s just wrong.

    Tribalism and Racism divides people into ‘us’ and ‘them,’ based one’s colour and caste. And it happens when people feel that it’s acceptable to treat others badly as they go about their daily lives.

    Allah created us from a man and a woman meaning then that we are all the same. Moreover we are created through the same process, not in a manner in which some are created with a better mechanism than others.

    We must understand that Allah made human beings into different groups and people. These differences are not wrong, but rather a sign from Allah. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:

    “And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Verily, in that are indeed signs for those who know.” [Qur’an, 30:22]

    I notice that not one word equivalent to tribe is used in this or any other verse of the Qur’an. Islam, however, limits the purpose of these distinctions to differentiation and knowing each other. This is not meant to be a source of beating or threatening each other down with an attitude of my group is better than your group or false pride as is the case with tribalism and racism.

    Of the many problems we face today, some are natural disasters, while others unfortunately are of our own making, created by misunderstanding, arising from the conflict of ideologies, where people fight each other for petty ends, losing sight of the basic humanity that binds us all together as a single human family. These however can be corrected.

    We must remember these differences are meant for human beings to achieve progress attaining happiness through the process. We must not lose sight of this fundamental goal and at no time should we place means above ends; the supremacy of humanity over matter and ideology must always be maintained.

    There are two things important to keep in mind: Self-examination and self-correction. We should constantly check our attitude toward others, examining ourselves carefully, and we should correct ourselves immediately when we find we are in the wrong.

    One individual who is higher in piousness, more conscious of his Creator and is staying away from the bad and doing the good is better, no matter what tribe, race, region, nation, country or caste he is part of. Individual piety is the only thing that makes a person better and greater than the other one.

    It is fortunate that the only criterion of preference mentioned is not measurable by human beings. We should leave even this criterion to Allah to decide instead of human beings judging each other.

    Tribalism and Racism still there. Even today, as I write this article, violence because of tribe or race is taking place in Nigeria and the west. Take for instance the riots in the US after the police there killed a black young man, or the latest advertisement where the so called Israeli state will racially segregate kindergartens. How these actions by supposedly democratic countries promote progress I have no idea. This stands against all that I had been raised on, against any of Islam’s beliefs and against anything I teach my children.

    I’ve learned that if something is to be funny all present should laugh at it. It’s not funny if we hurt somebody’s feelings.

    To achieve such goals I learned it is necessary to develop a sense of universal responsibility, a deep concern for all, irrespective of creed, colour, sex, tribe, race, region or nationality. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) teaches that:

    “Whoever has arrogance in his heart equal to an atom’s weight shall not enter Paradise. A man inquired about a person who likes to wear beautiful clothes and fine shoes, he answered: ‘Allah is beautiful and likes beauty’ and explained pride as rejecting truth because of self-esteem and looking down on other people.” [Muslim]

    We learn that the idea of universal responsibility is the simple fact that, in general terms, all other’s desires are the same as mine. Every being wants happiness and does not want suffering.

    If we, as intelligent human beings, do not accept this fact, there will be more and more suffering on this planet. If we adopt the tribal and racist’s self-centered approach to life and constantly try to abuse others for our own self-interest, we may gain temporary benefits, but in the long run we will not succeed in achieving even personal happiness, and world peace will be completely out of the question.

    The Fundamental Human Rights Of Every Nigerian

    Fundamental human rights are the entitlement of persons, they are legally provided by law and cannot be ordinarily denied by any person or government. All persons in Nigeria, including foreigners have fundamental human rights. Hence, all persons and governments at all levels must respect fundamental human rights of all persons in Nigeria. This article exposes some of the fundamental human rights that are existing in Nigeria and how they can be enforced. The fundamental human rights contained in the constitution of Nigeria are as follows:

    1. The Right to Life
    1. The Right to Dignity of Human Person
    1. The Right to Personal Liberty
    1. The Right to Fair Hearing
    1. The Right to Private and Family Life
    1. The Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion
    1. The Right to Freedom of Expression and the Press
    1. The Rights to Peaceful Assembly and Association
    1. The Right to Freedom of Movement
    1. The Right to Freedom from Discrimination
    1. The Right to Acquire and Own Immovable Property anywhere in Nigeria.

    These rights should never be violated by any person, including law enforcement agencies or agents in any part of Nigeria. Consequently, where there is a violation or even a mere attempted violation of a fundamental human right, the victim and any other person on behalf of the victim, can seek justice against the violator. Where there is a violation of any fundamental human rights or a threat to such rights, the court to approach is a State High Court or the Federal High Court. It is easy and fast to get judgment in such cases, because they are urgently treated. Just engage the services of a good lawyer.

    All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.

    Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusauimam@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

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