Prof. Sabit Ariyo Olagoke, former Head of Department, Mechanical Engineering, Ilaro Polytechnic, Ogun State, is the founder and spiritual Head of ‘Shafaudeen In Islam Worldwide’. In this interview with SOLA ADEYEMO, he speaks on the state of insecurity in Nigeria and the proscription of transport union in Oyo State, among other issues
Nigeria is facing series of social problems including security in form of kidnapping, ritual killing, insurgency from Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and the sorts. What is you view on this?
Every one of us grew as a child to this particular adulthood stage, and we could see how deteriorating values are becoming and have been facing challenges. This is responsible for the present state of hullabaloo, whereby there is chaos here, insurgence here and secession threat there. It is because all these things started through the first coup of January 15, 1966. And unfortunately, it snowballed because of poor management of it into civil war.
The government launched operation on reconstruction, reconciliation and rehabilitation, but it was poorly managed. This was because what all those things would have addressed was the kind of injustice and inequality that were prevalent then. Unfortunately, we fail to address them properly. And that is why today, you are seeing those people as clerics who have nothing to do about the Bible and the Quran. Many people now go into the religious sector because it happened to be an arena of sacredness, but today it is replaced with profanity. And that is why we are now having problem. When you look at the life of Elijah in the Bible, you could see how he single-handedly saved a nation. Why are we now having millions of clerics in Nigeria and their impact is just “give me money so that you don’t have bad dreams again?” Is that the level of religious worship? You can see how abysmally debased the area of divinity has degenerated.
Once you lose the favour of God through that, the environment of divinity through which you are supposed to manage democracy which stands on justice and equity, will not be there. The expected peace and sustainable development will continue to elude us. It is just a simple chemistry of democracy that I have given now. So, I think two things are germane regarding why insecurity is on the increase in every nook and cranny of Nigeria. The first thing is that we lack sense of forgiveness. Most of our leaders including soldiers and most of our political leaders never forgive themselves. That is why any time we have an emerging government, the opposition will be so hostile with hate speech, and they will be so diabolical that they will create hostile environment for the government not to succeed. We need to address that area and appeal to ourselves.
We are not sincere with anything we have in Nigeria and that is why we are having these problems. The second one is that all the state apparatus regarding the areas of security are being poorly funded, including the education sector. When all these areas are deficient, you are bound to end up with bad leadership. You will have professionals that are ill-motivated. Once you are unable to empower aright those who are supposed to walk the talk, then you will continue to have problems.
What then is the major way out?
The only area for salvation for Nigeria is for government to do the needful. Chapter 16 of the Constitution addresses areas of the state ensuring that there is no corruption. States should ensure that they provide jobs; it is our right and so it is not about government as usual. It is our right that we should be protected and that is the essence of using the people that gave them the mandate. If people are being used to vote for them to become Senators, to become Mr. President, then what are you giving back to them? What we expect is development through you. So, the area of infrastructure will facilitate how best the government can reach out to people through provision of necessary amenities.
If the government is able to do the needful and they are able to appeal to the religious sector, to be scripture-compliant, things will be better. I however laugh when they say that Nigerians are religious. I tell them that Nigerians are not religious. Religiosity is better measured not through the number of religious houses; not through the number of clerics, but through the number of people that are scripture-compliant.
If you are a very good medical doctor, it means that you are curriculum-compliant. Same with a good engineer. So, the ethical principles upon which every one of us is being empowered must be followed accordingly. If the government wants to succeed at all, they really need to respect their professionals. Instead of politicians now dictating to the professionals to do this and do that, the professionals should tell them that this is what the ethics of my profession stands for. It is when we are able to do the needful that Nigeria will start to witness peace and development.
What will be your response to the allegation of “Fulanisation” by herdsmen and Islamisation which ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo made against President Muhammadu Buhari with regard to his attending the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) meeting?
With regard to the issue of OIC, it is only being over-politicised. Obasanjo used to attend when he was our president, and we were so happy because as a Christian he would be able to really know what they were doing there. Former President Goodluck Jonathan used to attend the OIC and nobody raised any eyebrow. There is a section in the Quran that says, “O ye people, be just in the way you judge others. Do not allow your hatred for a people on the basis of differences in colour or religion to becloud your sense of judgment”.
Buhari may be a Muslim, but nobody is saying that he is an excellent Muslim. In fact in my judgment, if you are rich to a billion naira level, you can never be a religious person. That is just it. Look at that proverb of Jesus Christ: he said, “Go and sell all those things you have and follow me”, but the man ran away. And Jesus said that it will be so hard for any rich person to enter into the kingdom of God in heaven as it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. It is a statement of fact and no civilisation can erode that statement. It is better you know God before you have money. By the time you have money, you cannot call yourself a billionaire because a lot of people need you. You would have spent that money for them but you won’t be poor. That is the reality.
Regarding the OIC, the issues discussed at the meeting were more of how to curb terrorism in Islam. If you do not draft a representative to look into that, how would you tackle the problem of Maiduguri, the problem of Taraba? So, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) should as much as possible not to bring politics into religion in a very blind-folded manner here. That is number one thing which they need to be told. Let them go and address the aberrations and heresies for clerics in Islam; the aberrations and heresies in Christendom that is denying us of having true divinity of an environment. That is that.
On Islamization issue, nobody can Islamize this country. The process of Islamization or Christianization is purely a scripture affair. Even among Muslims and Christians, we have a lot of them who are not scripture compliant. That is why we are experiencing profanity in the houses of God where sacredness is expected to ooze out that particular aura of God even for the government to perform. The environmental pollution of all these people is too much and Nigeria is even too sick of it, except we are able to regulate that area.
Regarding the “Fulanization” of the country, we have Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) here in the Yorubaland. OPC was neutral before. Today, Yoruba depend on them as their pillar of security. Buhari is a Fulani. The problem of Fulani attacks had been on before he came on board. But in the face of politics, he may say what do I do? What is highly important is that every state must be security conscious. If you look at what is really happening in areas where Fulani are killing people, it is between the farmers and the Fulani. Fulani people are like the Hindus in India. The Muslims and Hindus in India are always clashing over cows. To the Hindus, cows happen to be their grandfather. They cannot toy with cows. So, to a typical Fulani, they even prefer that thousands of them may die, but you must not harm their cows. That is their culture and that is why I am saying that Nigeria is neglecting the Ivory Tower.
What of the Fulani’s attacks on farmers and many innocent citizens across the country, particularly in the South West?
On the Fulani and farmers’ imbroglio, the problem is mishandling. It is because the government is mishandling the situation that we continue to have these problems. I believe President Muhammadu Buhari should not be using them to attack farmers. Even if he is not using them, people will say he is using them. That is the way I look at it. It is just like an Ibadan man like Governor Seyi Makinde is there now: if an Ibadan group is doing certain thing wrong now, you will say that it is because Makinde is using them. Buhari might not necessarily be using them. You know, by the time he was out of government, he was accused of sponsoring the Boko Haram and that he was one of them. He denied it, and later he became President and it is now that it appears Boko Haram is much on the increase. If Buhari is part of them, they are supposed to subside. All their nefarious activities should have stopped.
But Nigerians are saying that President Buhari is not being proactive in curbing activities of the herdsmen because he is also a Fulani man. How do you see that reasoning?
It was easy for former President Obasanjo to destroy them in Odi because he is not one of them. It is not easy to go to your father’s house and begin to kill them. If the President is able to use all those professionals to do the job, we won’t have the problems again. That is just it. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that states should be more proactive. Yoruba has its culture, and we must not allow this porous border problem and challenges to affect us. That is why we have the OPC. That is why we have the Aare Ona Kakanfo. The work of the Aare Ona Kakanfo is to give us security in Yorubaland as a whole. If they are so effective in doing it, there is no way any Fulani can just come.
What is you comment on the subsisting ban by Governor Seyi Makinde on the activities of the Oyo State chapter of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW)?
It is timely. That is the ideal think to do. They can now be resolving their problems underneath. The governor has taken the right step..