|Henry Ezekwelu||Saturday, November 23, 2002|
MR PRESIDENT, THE SHARIA CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG
r President, as a Nigerian living abroad, I am dismayed and angry at the recent riots in Kaduna and Abuja over the Miss World contest. I am equally shocked at the lack of religious tolerance, and the wanton loss of innocent Nigerian lives, by vandals and thugs who pose and pretend to be the defendants of the Islamic faith. Whilst these vandals have looted and murdered their way into our citizenry in Kaduna, millions of law abiding Nigerian Moslems (The true guardians of the faith) have gone about their daily lives innocently and in peace in the way prophet Mohammed advocated. Every Nigerian today, should cover their head in shame at this Sharia Madness.
The fact that the Miss World contest (a worldwide event) with billions of audience in global TV coverage alone, came to Nigeria should be a thing of undulated joy for our citizens. But the ugly events in Kaduna and the eventual cancellation of the contest in Nigeria must be seen as a source of huge embarrassment for us all. There is no doubt, Mr President, that the inchoate, harpless and naive way your Federal Government have handled this event has caused irreparable damage abroad to our image as a country. As the saying goes, "bad news travels fast", whilst nobody hears of good news.
Today, Nigeria is seen as a country with no religious tolerance, where human lives are of no value, and with a federal government that is totally clueless on how to manage a country with such religious zealots and bigotry. Our country today, Mr President, is a laughing stock all over the world, particularly amongst over most bitter enemies (Western Press) who have always said that the country is too undisciplined and disorganised to handle a major global event of this nature. In one word, the enemies have won. Congratulations, Mr President.
Your policy of putting your tail behind your legs and burying your head in sand over the wind of Sharia in Nigeria has exposed your lack of political astuteness and inability to see the global picture that such timidity will reflect on our already battered image. Today, we are the laughing stock of the world. Mr President, when will you wake up?
The principle of democracy that every man and woman must be allowed to practice his or her faith, should not be carried out at the expense of the demise of the innocent lives of many of our citizens. Yet, you have buried your head in sand as dozens of our youth are killed by murderous vandals and religious fanatics, who walk about in the name of Islam.
Mr President, when will you wake up? Your policy of allowing clueless politicians that call themselves Governors of the Northern States to run wild with religious bigotry, otherwise called Sharia has backfired heavily on our image as a country.
Mr President, when will you wake up? Our 1999 constitution makes it very clear that Nigeria is a secular state, yet you have allowed foreign sponsored religious fanatics who call themselves Governors of the Northern States to manipulate the minds of street destitute and vagrants, and turned them into killing machines in the streets of Kaduna, one of our great cities.
Your policy of silence at the Sharia hurricane, Mr President, in order to secure political advantages in the North has exposed you and our country to ridicule amongst a world audience. Today, Nigeria's religious barbarism is the front news of every foreign TV station. The ramifications of your harpless policy of allowing the Sharia Cat out of the bag is now very glaring for you to see. If you were a western politician, the honourable thing will be for you to offer to resign immediately. Are you going to do this, Mr President? How do you plan to repay the Nigerian Taxpayer, with the millions of Naira that was poured into this event?
Mr President, when will you really wake up? Your policy of travelling all the world to improve Nigeria's image, and any gains thereof, has been wiped away by a moment of Islamic-madness and your inability to understand that our people are not yet religiously sophisticated enough for you to allow the Sharia Cat out of the Bag. Today, we are been compared to Iran and Saudi-Arabia as a religiously fanatical country, despite the fact that millions of peace loving Nigerian Moslems are in no way fanatical.
Mr President, when will you really, really wake up?
In my opinion, Mr President, it is time for you to begin to rein-in the dangerous Sharia Cat, otherwise our once peaceful country is heading for a catastrophic implosion that will put our enemies on Cloud 9. This experiment of yours has clearly not worked. But, sir, will your political ambitions up North as the election approaches allow you to put the interest of the motherland, first at heart?
Our image as a country today, is badly tarnished by the odious corruption of the Fat Cats that patrol our National Assembly and House of Reps in Abuja. And they call themselves honourable. Our image is has fared better either in the hands of by your harpless and bizarre policy of allowing foreign sponsored religious zealots that call themselves Northern Governors to implement a religious law of amputations and executions not prescribed by the Koran.
The fact that the recent riot is being blamed on an innocent article on ThisDay newspaper is simply a misnomer.
Mr President, as you know very well the newspaper has apologized on three occasions and the street killings in Kaduna continued unabated. This, if nothing else, should tell you that the origins of this fiasco simply lies at your door. The democratic experiment also allows for free speech, Sir, as your political advisers will tell you. Our highly trained journalists are traditionally noted for their ability to freely express their views even under oppressive military regimes.
Mr President, do you plan for the Sharia Cat to stifle free speech? Sir, when will you really, really wake up? Are you going to allow the Sharia Cat to stifle our ability to freely express our views as citizens of a nation? How do you expect foreign nations to take us seriously as a nation, in the wake of such wanton loss of live? Sir, how do you expect foreign investors to come into the country in droves, amidst the disorganised state of the polity?
Mr President, how do you expect young and professional Nigerians abroad to return home, in the wake of such heightened levels of insecurity and religious madness? The arrest of ThisDay editor is an abrogation of the highest order, and his release must be ordered immediately, in order to begin to minimize the immense damage already heaped upon our country.
There is no doubt that Nigerian Moslems must be allowed to continue to practice the tenets of the esteemed religion. Sharia Law is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria, as you know too well. Many military regimes, including yours, allowed it to flourish in the past. The big difference today, is that many foreign sponsored Northern politicians have politicized the issue and have turned it into a big stick to use in intimidating your government, together with millions of innocent peace-loving Moslems and non-Moslems in the country.
My advise, Mr President, at this eleventh hour is that you must use your executive powers and begin the process of reining-in the Sharia Courts and limit them to handling only civil matters, whilst matters of a criminal nature rests with our established legal system and constitution.
Mr President, you must also begin the process of reining-in the religious zealots that call themselves Northern Governors and politicians in order to save our country.
Mr President, you must also begin the process of using our established Security Services to check on and stop the political and religious activities of foreign middle-eastern nations who are bent on throwing our nation into chaos. This is the only way you can begin to repair the untold damage that has been caused to our image abroad. The danger of not doing all of this, Sir, is that Nigeria would eventually implode as serious western nations will begin to withdraw any remaining remnants of patronage and sympathy they have on our country, in the post Sept-11 era of world politics.