Some ten to twenty years ago, Nigerians heard that an Ayatollah, according to his own strain of Islam, pronounced a death sentence on an apostate. Some ten years ago Nigerians heard that suicide bombers detonated bombs in their country, blowing themselves, and scores of others, into smithereens. This came after the invasion of Afghanistan when the American forces quickly overwhelmed the Taliban. Unable to withstand the American hard-power, the Taliban and their al-Qaeda affiliates launched a new brand of warfare: suicide bombings, hostage taking, and killing of relief workers and school children.
Almost immediately after the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Americans got involved in Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein. With the invasion came the indiscriminate kidnappings and open beheadings of westerners, aid workers, and Iraqi Christians, Sunnis and Shiites. These acts are still rampant Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, the situation was not any different in Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban are the extension of the Afghan militants. What all of them have in common is to seek overthrowing the governments of their home-lands, which they see as western puppets, and impose a government based on strict (or a “pure” form of) Sharia law.
Unfortunately, the northern parts of Nigeria have been experiencing situations similar to what is happening in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Just a few days ago gunmen shot and killed nine female aid workers in Kano state, North-Eastern Nigeria, followed two days later by brutal beheadings of North Korean doctors working in Yobe state. On that same day, in Kaduna State, security forces arrested seven suicide bombers on their way to Nassarawa State. All of these happened between the 7th and 11th of February 2013
Nigeria, a country of about 140 million people and evenly divided between Muslims and Christians, is now behaving like the countries referred above.
HOW DID WE GET THERE?
I will give three instances in which government officials have imputed elements of violence towards others and urged their followers to do thus.
During the Russian invasion of Chechnya, in the 1990s, the Kaduna state government renamed one of the largest markets in the city, the Chechnya market, irrespective of the fact that the Chechens were, by that time, involved in kidnapping, suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians. In fact, the only thing that connects these two states is that the governor of Kaduna, and the majority of its population, is also Muslim.
In November 2002, one miss Isioma Daniels, a Nigerian Journalist, and an Igbo , wrote an article in support of the beauty pageant taking place in Abuja by then. She also wrote about the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Hell was let loose as Muslim mobs burned down churches and schools, and killed Christians from the South and from the North. As if to further complicate the issue, the deputy governor of Zamfara state, Alhaji Aliyu Mahmud Shinkafi, went on the air to say that like Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma can be shed. It is abiding on all Muslims, wherever they are, to consider killing the writer as a religious duty. Muhamud Shinkafi, a deputy governor who had sworn to uphold and defend the constitution of Nigeria, uttered this chilling words on a radio station urging Muslims to kill a non-believer. He was later elected governor of his state.
As events quickly progressed, by 2003 a highly respected Emir in the Northern state of Kano alleged that the anti-polio vaccination programs embarked upon by the federal government, in conjunction with the United Nations and United States, were laced with substances meant to sterilize Muslim women, and thus reduce Muslim population numbers. Almost immediately, the Kano state governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, and three other state Governors in the North, imposed a ban on the polio vaccination programs and expelled the aid workers. They also embarked on aggressive campaigns against polio vaccination. As a result, many Muslim civilians have continued to look at the anti polio programs with suspicion.
One other incident occurred in 2005, widely known as the riots caused by a cartoon posted on a Danish newspaper portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. Most Nigerians of southern extraction living in Kano may not even have heard about a country called Denmark, yet they were slaughtered due to a cartoon from that very country. Again the Kano state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, was once again in the lime-light. Security reports had indicated that if street protests were allowed they would turn out to be very bloody. Therefore, Shekarau was advised to cancel or ban street protests against the Danish cartoons. However, once again, he decided to side with Islamists rather than protect lives and properties. Shekarau allowed the street protest and members of the Kano State House of Assembly to march alongside the protesters. The speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly, Alhaji Saidu Balarabe Gani, publicly ignited anti-Danish feelings while urging Muslims to do likewise. Later that week, over 200 Nigerians were willfully slaughtered, and up to this day no one was brought to justice or to account.
By and large, since Northern Nigeria is behaving like Afghanistan, and mobs are killing, bombing and destroying lives and properties like the mobs in Pakistan, by taking a look at the roles of governors, legislators, councils, Emirs and other government officials, you will discover that they indeed set Nigeria towards the same path Pakistan and Afghanistan took.
By: Mike Odeh James