NigeriaWorld ®
Return to NigeriaWorld



 
The Sharia debate and the 'END OF HISTORY'
 

ANNOUNCE THIS ARTICLE TO YOUR FRIENDS!
 Thursday, November 4, 1999



 Wale Adebanwi
 waleadebanwi@hotmail.com


ONE could take the tempting option: Throw a conspiracy theory on the resurgence of the Sharia Agenda in Nigeria. But this option is not just tempting; it is, in a rather dark sense, useful. For a polity that has been plagued by the theft of the collective weal by a power-besotted, infernal even if incompetent fraction of its population, fearing the beginning of another grand conspiracy in the sudden re-appearance of the Sharia issue, in a new dimension in Zamfara state (and we are told in other Northern states,soon) is a 'useful' way of understanding what is at play in contemporary Nigeria.

A set of questions 'prove' the conspiracy thesis. If the introduction and institutionalization of Sharia Law were an article of faith for the Zamfara governor and his co-travelers, as we have been told, how come they didn't have it as a cardinal point of their electoral promise? If the Sharia law were superior to the Nigerian Constitution ( Balarabe Musa's latest shouting, gratuitous insult on our collective "faith"), how come that we were not warned about this when this same "inferior" Constitution was being used to capture power - say in Zamfara state, for instance? A counter-pose to this is in order before we go on, if only to show that others have been more faithful. The political 'alternative' to those behind this "Sharia" agenda told the world before, during and even after the Abubarkar transition programme, that the Constitution on offer would not take us to the promised land. They spelt out their objection to the Constitution. They promised (still canvasses) for a fundamental review along the lines of restructuring of the Nigerian Union. So, why didn't these emergency "superiorists" (Musa and co.)and "Sharia" champions, make similar vows if they were so convinced about the REAL Sharia? How come they had to wait to see how President Olusegun Obasanjo - or what more appropriately should be called "power-shift" - enacted his rule, against the backdrop of the 'eternal ownership' of political power in their father's backyard?

GOLDEN NUGGET
Say, how long have these people been out of the centre of power to occasion these cacophonous groan? Is it not clear now that they are not after equity, fairness or justice? Dominate! Dominate! is their credo. Now that this is beginning to look like over, that this "history" of infernal, pristine rulership is clearly ended, we are now told that the Constitution that had up till now been the instrument of this internal colonialism is "inferior" to the new found tool of confusion and rear-door access to dominating the socio -cultural space, and causing confusion in the political.
 
BUT then, we have said we can do without the conspiracy theory. That is the thesis that easily and readily pronounces the resurgence of the long-winded consolidation of the "Sharia" agenda as an attempt to subvert the new order by some who have cheated themselves out of power through a history of apparent incompetence, rude inefficiency and the grafting of evil upon public acts as if it were a directive principle of state policy.(Needless to say, 'everyone' agrees on who constituted the most notorious symbol of the latter consequence of Caliphal (political) "infallibility".)

LET us re-enter Balarabe Musa's argument into the equation and elaborate it. The Marxist (?) politician and social thinker says that Sharia is superior to the Nigerian Constitution. He tried to capture the Constitution as a product of Judeo-Christian philosophy and world-view, but he neither developed nor elaborated this. (Or he was not reported to have done so) Then the, as they say, clincher : he announced that we need to go the way of 'separation' or decentralization along ethnic-national lines - what he calls 'true federalism'. There! He also alluded to the Odua People's Congress (OPC) activities, which have, I must say, bordered more on anarchical insolence directed at the old order than a clear goal-driven project.

IT is indeed a welcome development that the likes of Musa are coming out of their old shells, old lies, the lies of ages, to reveal the truth behind the Marxist/radical camouflage that we all at one time or the order have had to wear. Ethnicity is no longer, even for the Musas, as Marx, argues the epi-phenomenon. It is now located at the base. It is curious that it took so long for a 'simple' fact as this to come home to the Musas.

BEYOND Marxian dilemma, Musa's position is a triumph more for the AFENIFERE and fellow travelers than it is for the 'political shariarists'. Let me quickly say here that what the Zamfara governor, Musa and other "strategists" are enacting in Nigeria today is a "political Sharia" which has nothing to so with the Islamic Sharia. The former is only an instrument of political maneuvering. But let's leave that for now.

IT is interesting that Musa talked with venom on the OPC without coming to terms with the fact that Maitama Sule and his co-travelers in the "divine-order" thesis produced the OPC. The OPC is the Yoruba (physical, not strategic) answer to Sule's extremism captured in his proposition that the "north" (meaning Hausa-Fulani) is destined by God to rule Nigeria eternally. Even the otherwise "national" Gani Faweyinmi once climbed down at a point in the recent struggle against military autocracy to say that it was time other ethnic-nationalities in Nigeria started acting as if their right to leadership in Nigeria was also non-negotiable, as Maitama Sule's "north" acted. This attitude perhaps produced Obasanjo, even though these same "owners' of the Nigerian field had thought that he was just a pawn in their hands. Earlier, Balarabe Musa had railed against Obasanjo's "ingratitude" to the "north" . Here he could as well have added the north which the British bequeathed to them for the purposes of internal colonialism.

Pray, what is Obasanjo's offence these past six months? We can discern from their complaints that the man's offence is that he does not pander to a sectional agenda, continued hegemony and unfair appropriation - of wealth located on other ethnic-nationalities' soil - by a consumptive, totally unproductive cabal, a shameless fraction whose intellectual storm-troopers are still arguing over how they will continue to plunder the system when the whole world is advancing at such an astronomical pace. Unfortunately, we are only collectively imperiled by these energy-sapping debates.

THE unfolding Sharia agenda is interesting in that it has nothing to do with religion. It is politics, pure and simple. You don't even need to look hard to see that the greatest proponents of theocratic state are glorified infidels. Allah does not know them. They do not know Allah either. I make this assertion because the evidence of their godlessness is the mess in which our country was trapped until May 29 this year. Didn't the generation of the Babangidas and Abachas insist on a mosque in Aso Rock to the exclusion of a church? Did the teaching of Islam have any effect on their evil-driven project of national emasculation?

Piety, for them, is politics. We have a duty to resist their attempt to level politics and (pseudo) piety. The truly pious have other terrains for his practice, not politics. The pious and the political are a contradiction in terms. Attempts to mix them have often been geared towards enslaving men, they have often been based on historic lies.

For so long this cabal had appropriated the discourse of accusing others of "tribalism", since the "national" was its own turf. It is heartening now, in a dark sense, that the likes of Balarabe Musa and Wada Nas, are being forced to swap lexicon with their erstwhile "tribalists". They are the ones now asking for Nigeria to be arranged along ethnic-national lines. Interesting! Why did it take the Marxist scholar this long to realize what common minds (?) have been articulating for so long. To see yesterday's "nationalists" transform to campaigners for "ethnic validity" is to witness the collapse of a certain kind of history, the history of pretension to national commitments. And to think that it took "regular" guys like the OPC "rascals" to prompt them to public confession!

Say, how long have these people been out of the centre of power to occasion these cacophonous groan? Is it not clear now that they are not after equity, fairness or justice? Dominate! Dominate! is their credo. Now that this is beginning to look like over, that this "history" of infernal, pristine rulership is clearly ended, we are now told that the Constitution that had up till now been the instrument of this internal colonialism is "inferior" to the new found tool of confusion and rear-door access to dominating the socio -cultural space, and causing confusion in the political.

Well, if indeed this political "Sharia" (as opposed of course to the real Islamic Sharia) is what Zamfara and others want, let them have it. Isn't this, like Musa says, a federal state? But, when the Ogonis and the other Niger-Delta people, on whose oil all these hare-brained projects of the centre and most of its periphery are based, come to us to say that their oil too is "superior" to the Nigerian Constitution, I hope there will be no sadistic trials and hanging. In fact, they might as well make this extremist credo the rallying cry of their current insurgence.

THE latter of course is not desirable. But these political shariarists and extremists need to be told the implications of their irrevocable predilection for taunting others, hounding the Obasanjo presidency and haunting our newly re-born commonwealth. They will fail; but not until they have played their last card and lost fatally. When this happens, then we would build a new Nigeria from the rubbles of the breakdown of incompetent hegemony and its largely confused and misdirected counter-thesis in the south. That new Nigeria will not be totally new because it will learn from the mistakes and perfidies of the past.

Let me end by sounding prophetic: When - as it likely to eventually happen - you start to hear the Musas, and the theoretician of "divine order", Maitama Sule, not just calling for a federal arrangement along ethnic-nationality lines as they are already doing, but leading a campaign for Sovereign National Conference, you will know that the new Nigeria (not the sorry medium that bears similar name!) is upon us. "Obasanjo" is no arrival. At best he is only a departure. When you hear "Sharia", at the arrival of the new dawn, it will be the religious Sharia not the instrument of tested infidels.

Adebanwi, of the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan,
is currently a Fellow at the New School University, New York.