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Our gauzy language of patriotism

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By Haroun Muhammed

No one will teach you how to love your skin; how to gauge your taste for everything around you. No one will teach you how to love your country. It boils down to your common sense; the reality before you, the stuff you are made of.

Whether you listen to the professors of psychology at Harvard or you listen to the sociologists from Cambridge and Oxford combined — somethings are naturally built-in — and further share the iterative growth in us.

Recent events showed how we could match the present and past events together in order to make sense of the future. This isn’t a prophetic sentiment, rather than, a wake up call. Countries over all the world are being built on the overwhelming sense of patriotism.

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Whether you worship the West, the Middle East, or even those that speak in different tongues, the logic is the same: indigenes build their country not foreigners. A country is as good as its people, says the cerebral MS II.

Back to the events. Our love for foreign “things” is legendary. Anything tag “foreign” is given a special treatment. This is us; a country with a fashionable love for foreign things (Nigeria itself needs to travel abroad, said a frustrated Nigerian.) EndSars protest would continue to weigh a huge mark in our books of history — its spontaneous negative impact, and perhaps, its undermine positive impact.

What we had back then was the rebirth of our love for foreign affairs. At some particular stage, we jettisoned our local media and clear facts before us to blindly absorb the “foreign unsubstantiated sentiments”. This time around we rally around and allowed others to have taken an advantage of what’s meant to be a good precedent — infiltrated the good cause with cornucopia of deceitfulness.

Can we really be that shortsighted? (I’m trying to be nice here. The word I was going to use was “stupid.”)! There was also a wave of ignorance that swept our sense of reasoning away. Imagine an overrated foreign-based Medic saying if protest lasted for 30 days UN will intervene and sack the people in charge. Seriously? Even the shortest route to the Google search-engine seemed to have disappeared from some people’s head then. Some didn’t logically and thoroughly ask for more details regarding that… na to Soro Soke dey go!

And then, there was a noise of holding the Nigerian flag, there was one of inviting economic sanctions, of signing funny signatures, there was another one of asking the UK to ask the president to resign, there was so many colourful rumours and lies peddled on and off the media streets. And then, the almighty “massacre” gracefully landed. Up till now, we are still looking for the unknown dead bodies to honor their deaths. They truly deserve our final respect. They do!

Instead to gather around our senses and set our house in order, we consequently fell back into lawlessness, lashing out the unknown, starving our economy in the back by roadblocks, huddling against the darkness, killings of our own security men, robbing our countrymen, etc. We were never casted in that mould, I didn’t know how we got ourselves there. Believe me, I didn’t!

If we could learn something from the past, it’s that of, no one can help us set our house in order while we take a step back and watch the magic to happen. The people we consciously invited will leave us, the way rats leave a sinking, when we set our nation on fire. Developing countries like ours thrive on a painstaking patriotism regardless of who is in charge of the country.

Unlike us, they passionately despise anything that will bring their country down. Unlike us, they don’t adopt “fashionable foreign love”, they are contented with home-based love cast in the mould of patriotism. Chip in any developing country like us, their story of success lies in their patriotism.

There was an attack on the Capitol, an insurrection they say, days ago. But, all we had was Americans solving their own problems. Of course, it’s arguable to say no one can dare interfere in their internal affairs, though, we have adopted “foreign love”, we can, as well, learn something from them — that’s the love of our own country.

Let me repeat this one more time: Nigeria is the only country we have. Unless, you are preparing to rent a house in Elon’s self-sustaining city on Mars, the politics of this country affect all of us; directly or indirectly.

We should all frown at the shabby-driven-system in our country. We should all be actively involved in shaping the future of this country. It doesn’t matter which industry you belong to; if we keep on producing half-baked politicians as our leaders, nobody’s going to be safe in this country. Their infectious incompetency will locate us, on the road, home, on our beds, wherever we are. The Nigeria of yesterday, that of today, is a textbook reference for this.

We can join hands and rebuild this country —make it whatever we want it to be — or watch it bounce into a valley of nothingness under the influence of never-ending blames and staggering perfidiousness.

The choice is ours.

May Nigeria succeed!

Opinion

When Will Nigerians Get Portable Water?

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By Alhassan A. Bala

 

Part of what Nigerians expected when the country got its independence on 1st October 1960 was getting freedom and a better life, most especially in the provision of infrastructure and basic amenities like clean portable water, electricity, standard health facilities, to name a few.

 

The leaders in the First Republic were overthrown and some killed by military officers in a coup d’tat, and having assumed the leadership not via universal suffrage, Nigerians couldn’t demand many things.

 

The Second, Third, and even the Fourth Republic leaders campaigned for the provision of water, electricity among many other basic amenities and infrastructures before their respective elections.

 

Nigeria is a party to the United Nations Declaration of the Right to Water, which entitles everyone living in Nigeria to have sufficient, affordable, safe, and portable water for personal

and domestic uses.

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A survey conducted by Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF in 2019 shows millions of households in Nigeria do not have access to clean water sources. While the supply of clean water in Nigeria has improved recently, 3 in 10 people still lack access to water.

 

Nigeria is so rich in water resources and reservoirs that some states got their names from rivers.

 

More importantly, as consumable water is found in nearly every part of the country, there’s also plenty stored in the ground.

 

The report says Nigeria has 215 cubic meters a year of available surface water, which is a lot higher than many African countries, particularly those in the southern and northern regions of the continent.

 

With all this natural blessing, many people who live in countries that do not have the reservoirs of water as Nigeria would imagine that Nigerians have plenty of water to drink.

 

But this isn’t the case. In fact, a report suggested that only 19% of Nigeria’s population has access to safe drinking water.

 

Although, 67% of people have a basic portable water supply, access is uneven. In cities, 82% of people have a basic supply. In rural areas, only 54% do.

 

The NBS and UNICEF report also say wealth also distorts access. About 80% of wealthy Nigerians have access to at least a basic portable  water supply, in comparison to only 48% of poor Nigerians.

 

This is not unconnected with the fact that most of the rich houses have boreholes, dug to avoid depending on water boards.

 

It is indeed very important to understand the reason why the number of water vendors in towns and cities is increasing by the day, as the population has no option than to patronize them to have the water they can either drink or use for other domestic needs.

 

Those who have the financial wherewithal now have to rely on the producers of sachet water popularly known as “pure water” with the fantasy that they are drinking clean portable water.

 

For the rich, it is either bottled water or dispenser, with the stated process of hygienic treatment from the companies.

 

Still, the competition among those companies is currently at its peak as they keep increasing by the day.

 

Be that as it may, a question begs for an answer: is this how we will continue, leaving citizens at the mercy of water vendors and sachet water producers who may not care about the hygiene and health implications of people as they are also after getting money?

 

Those in authority from federal, state, and local governments should understand that water is life, hence the need to also provide clean water, which will definitely help in reducing some tendencies of outbreak of so many communicable diseases, that claim lives of many helpless citizens.

 

Alhassan A. Bala

Is an Abuja-based broadcast journalist

Writes this from Abuja.

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Opinion

Tribute to Col Aminu Isah Kontagora: The Administrator Who Loved Kano

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By Dr. Sule Ya’u Sule

The death, last Monday, of Colonel (Rtd.) Aminu Isah Kontagora has robbed Nigeria of a quintessential public administrator, a cultured and brilliant military officer who contributed a lot to the physical development of Kano State as well as its human resource capital.

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The urbane and sophisticated officer also impacted the career of those of us privileged to serve under him in various capacities, for which I remain eternally grateful. I join other Nigerians in praying for the Almighty to forgive his shortcomings and grant him Aljannah Firdausi. May Allah grant his immediate family and dependents the strength to bear the loss.

Colonel Aminu Isah Kontagora served as Military Administrator of Kano State from September 1998-May 1999.

It was during this period that our paths crossed. It was a routine posting during the Military era. After General Sani Abacha’s death, some military administrators were swapped, which saw Colonel Dominic Oneya moving to Benue State and Colonel Kontagora coming to Kano. For those of us who served under Colonel Oneya, we did not know what to expect from the new Military Administrator.

But we did not have to wait too long before we came to understand his personality, leadership qualities, and man-management style.

Colonel Aminu Isah Kontagora loved Kano and the people of the state. He pushed ideas of how to improve public infrastructures.

He respected the institutions, especially the traditional institution and the civil service. He was a very meticulous and well-trained officer who expected everyone to imbibe the self-discipline culture without the fear of working under a military regime. He was a disciplined but compassionate, humane, and very considerate administrator who looked out for the wellbeing of those working under him.

On arrival in Government House Kano, Colonel Aminu Isa embraced us and gave us the confidence to continue with our duties as if nothing has changed. But he knew everything and everybody and must have commissioned some advanced intelligence on some key staff before his arrival. I was rattled when he called me one day.

“Sule, I can see why they call you Oneya Boy, but from now they will address you as Kontagora Boy.” Then I said to him, “I do not understand this statement, sir.” He replied, “When I came, I was brainwashed into thinking you were Oneya’s boy because of the loyalty and zeal you used in carrying out your duties. Now everyone that sees how you work with me will certainly be addressing you as my boy.”

For me, it was an affirmation of a boss’s confidence in my work and loyalty. I owed that to him, my state, and my career.

As Chief Press Secretary, my work brought me even closer to the Military Administrator. I had direct access to him at any time of the day, during, and after office hours. My interactions with him revealed his inner thoughts about what he thought about Kano, the people, the future of the state, and the country. He was very patriotic and optimistic. He was very respectful, and it is easy to relate to him because he was very approachable.

Before his arrival, we heard stories from other states about their administrators’ behavior, but Colonel Isah Kontagora had a ‘civilianized’ heart; he trusted the Government House staff and expected everyone to put in their best at all times without being reminded.

In the short period he served in Kano, Colonel Isah Kontagora worked assiduously to improve on what he met on the ground. He listened attentively when senior civil servants were offering their opinion on matters of state. He consulted widely before making decisions.

He was authoritative as you would expect a senior Military officer, but he listened to all and took expert advice from the civil servants.

Twenty one years after leaving government house Kano, we remain in touch and arrange for his accommodation any time he or any member of his family is visiting Kano to pass a night.

He will always call to find out about the situation around my Boss His Excellency Senator Ibrahim Shekarau as he gets updates from the Senator’s platform.

As a final tribute, I recollect one final legacy of kindness that Colonel Kontagora left for all of us, his personal staff. Toward the end of the administration after the election of a civilian government in 1999, he gathered all of us – military, SSS, police, and civilians – and told us, “Look, by the time we (the military) leave, this incoming civilian government will never work with you. So please, before we leave, each of you civilians should tell me his preference of where to work, and each military personnel should tell me where to repost him”. He facilitated all our preferences and got some jobs in other places for some others. Only a kind and considerate boss would do that for those who served him even when he owed them no obligation to do that.

These are some of the memories I recollect while serving under this distinguished and outstanding Military Administrator. Adieu, Colonel Aminu Isah Kontagora.

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Opinion

Between Shaykh Dr. Bashir Aliyu Umar, Late Shaykh Umar Balarabe & the Kannywood of the Immediate Future

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Ibrahim A Waziri
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Ibraheem A. Waziri

 

Sometimes on July 16, 2020, friends and well-wishers residents of Arewa Facebook Community (AFC) gathered around my wall, to mourn with me on a thread of tribute I wrote over the loss of my elder cousin, Shaykh Umar Balarabe Ibraheem. Part of the aspect of the tribute that attracted the attention of many was the reference to the deceased articulated Fatwa [legal position] that mirrors the recent Fatwa issued by Shaykh Dr. Bashir Aliyu Umar about divorce discharged in fictional drama. Dr. Bashir’s has caught the attention of many a pundit residents of AFC, since 9th January 2021, when a Hausa online newspaper reechoed his Fatwas obtained from an already extant video clip!

 

Then in my July 2020 piece, I wrote of Shaykh Umaru Balarabe, that part of his Fatwas while alive was: “Marriages pronounced in fictional drama (wasan kwaikwayo) are not valid because of lack therein, of complete conditions of marriages, according to the jurisprudential canons in use in this part of the world. But divorces in them are valid.  Meaning if one is not legally married to the person they impliedly divorce in their fictional dramas then the divorcing words will automatically apply to their own spouses in real life. When asked why he used to answer that all the canons conclude that there is no joke in the affairs of divorce. Once it is uttered it has to fall real on something and that should be the real spouse at home – of the actor if he is married – outside the purported drama.”

 

I have had cause to reflect about this position for years. Shaykh Umar Balarabe used to quote from Mukhtasaral Khalil, the clause, “wa jadduhu wa hazluhu sawaun”, meaning in the affairs of divorce seriousness or seriousness (joke) doesn’t matter and stop there asking any disputant to show any nass(text) from Qur’an, Hadith or any of the Maliki/Ashariy canons in use here is West Africa nay Hausaland, Northern Nigeria, that explicitly contradict his assertion.

 

Here we are today where Shaykh Dr. Bashir Aliyu Umar is repeating the arguments of late Shaykh Umaru Balarabe – whom I used to think was a loner in this – point by point, Qur’an and Hadith. The only difference is the slight leeway Shaykh Bashir is able to provide where Shaykh Umaru Balarabe would not. Shaykh Umar maintained that even when a man in a movie point at another actress projected to be his wife and pronounced divorce upon her and owing to the fact that he is not legally married to her, then the divorce falls on his legal real wife if he is married. His argument used to be that,  an adult person under any circumstances must not refer to himself as divorcing his wife, if he is not intending so since there is no room for jest in matters of divorce in Sharia and no matter the situation. So if one should ever mention divorcing his wife then the words will fall on his actual real wife.

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Whereas Shaykh Bashir gives space for accommodation in terms of wordings and exact pointers and specifiers; he believes where an adult person refers to self, divorcing wife and without using appropriate specifiers in a movie scene only then the wordings will extensively apply to his real family outside the drama. He then cited Ibn Qasim with his Maliki largely regarded fringe Fatwa which differs from him and suggests that a context even without appropriate specifiers may not lead to unwarranted implications on a real marriage.

 

SOME THOUGHTS

 

Islam attaches so much premium to words spoken. In fact, one becomes a Muslim or non-Muslim, that is, belonging or not, to the universal brotherhood, instantly, and without causing any to doubt them by what they say in a brief period as in a second. Thus in all Muslim cultures, from the smallest unit of a society, which is family, have their foundations in the clarity and efficacy or otherwise of words spoken. It is the exactitude of words told that seal marriage contracts. Words to or from parents recklessly – as is believed – can open gates to multiple forms of spiritual and physical adversities and narrow the quantum of prosperity index for a child in their entire life. In the same vein, words spoken can ruin family or marital relationship, within a blink of an eye. This tends to foist a distinct form of awareness and unique character in any Muslim society when pursuing socio-cultural discourses and at any time. Muslims everywhere seem to concentrate too much on what and how things are said or not!

 

It is with this kind of mind-frame that the Muslim societies received cinema and cinematography, additional forms of operationalizing productive social dialogue, whose development to current form and practice was largely achieved, within late 19th century to the present, and by a civilization that does not place the same premium on words uttered as a Muslim civilization. In the West, a parent can say anything no matter how nasty to a child or vice versa without posing or attracting to themselves any supposed type of spiritual danger or provoking a general feeling of group-wide cultural impropriety.

Similarly, institutions of marriage are not endangered by careless whispers in an instant. Thus a film in the West does not pay attention to any perceived spiritual bearing the words of an actor can have on themselves, in their real life, no matter how they are spoken in as much as it is within the logical structure or particular thread of an outlined fiction.

 

This, of course, will pose a challenge to the Muslim societies who on one hand are beginning to come to terms with the utility and relevance of film making as an effective instrument of social engineering, cultural dialogue, and conscientization; and on the other,  if not handled or managed carefully, could breed unpleasant social mutations in society,  lead to non-conscious alteration of moral categories in favor of what the societies in their current form may consider detestable social and personal conceptions, thereby diluting the whole essence of Muslim societies and civilization. It is this similar concern as is clear from the two separate video clips by Shaykh Dr. Bashir Aliyu Umar, which informs his much-discussed Fatwa.

 

Therefore the implications drawn from these could be that movie directors, producers, and actors in Kannywood, must be extra careful in how they frame up and participate or present scenes and couch dialogues involving the Divine lest they shoot themselves out of the favor of their most precious Islam. While any other form of the depiction of other aspects of our social life might easily be accommodated attributing them to sole intention to dramatize, others relating to marriage and family life should be threaded with an extra layer of caution due to the reasons from the Qur’an, Hadith and the entire body of Maliki/Ashariy jurisprudence that is operational here as an ethical framework and a source of values for centuries as late Shaykh Umar Balarabe Ibraheem would mention.

 

This is not an exercise that seeks to nullify and invalidate the profession and practice of film making is this milieu as Hajiya Hamida Koguna , would want to say; but an effort to further pristinely purify the practice for it to serve our society upon its ordained chosen paradigm of social engagement. To some of us, it is better to borrow the modern social technology of entertainment and bend it to suit what is a local requirement of engagement, than to borrow it as it is, and then make our own ordained social order bend to its foreign requirements by sourcing for Fatwas out of our inherited ethical framework to achieve that.

 

Kannywood industry has been doing fairly well over the years. The government of Kano State, its host, has done better over the years by inaugurating a censorship board that oversees its activities and ensures compatibility of its output to the supreme but unwritten cultural constitution of these societies and the legal constitution of the land. To this end we have seen how a whole drama series spanning years could be run, keeping the interest of its national international audience nonstop, without men and women making body contact in ways that violate our sacred tradition in social engagement. Therefore couching film dialogues in divorce scenes that will not violate our traditional codes can never be harmful in any way and cannot affect the quality of an actor, director, or producer or affect their marketability and prosperity indices going upward in their profession. We also don’t necessarily need the extended hand of a Maliki fringe Fatwa, like that of Ibnal Qasim to execute this function satisfactorily.

 

Allah Ya jikan Shaykh Umar Balarabe Ibraheem da sauran magabata; Allah Ya tsare, Ya albarkaci Shaykh Bashir Aliyu Umaru damu baki daya!

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