fbpx
Connect with us

Column

Nigerian Universities, the interference of Professional bodies, and the time bomb

Published

on

Having worked with multidisciplinary teams during my PhD at the Department of Engineering of the University of Leicester and postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Electric Power Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), I decided to experiment the acceptability of a multidisciplinary team in Engineering departments in Nigerian universities in 21st century on my return in 2015. Then, I was already due to be a Senior Lecturer in ABU since 2014. So I sent my CV and an application letter for the position of Associate Professor to the VC through the Head of Electrical Engineering Department of one of our public universities in November 2015. And I received the following not very surprising reply.
“Having perused your application documents, I found them interesting and relevant to the need of the department. However, I cannot pass your application for further processing because of the post applied for. For your information, the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nig. (COREN) has fixed the bar of an Engineering lecturer who is not registered with COREN at Lecturer I regardless of the number of his/her publications.”
The question that came to my mind was that is the regulation of engineering lecturers in universities part of the mandates of COREN? I read the reply again and he was very emphatic on my PhD and postdoctoral research experience and the relevance to his department. I was made to understand that the University has no academic staff in the area of high voltage engineering, but for them to utilize my experience in high voltage engineering, if I was actually ready to move there, I have to accept to be demoted for 4 years because COREN said so. And I can’t grow no matter my research output till I am registered with COREN. Amazing offer! It will take a complete idiot to accept such an offer. That is the reality of the compartmentalization of our university system and the destruction of the Nigerian university system and the structure by supposed professionals.
This was completely different from my experience in my two universities in Europe. Prof. Len Dissado had a first degree in chemistry and a PhD in chemistry but was a Professor of Engineering at Leicester because his research area was in Dielectrics, a topic very relevant to High Voltage Engineering. He was retained as Emeritus when I left in 2012. Dr. Steve S. Dodd had his first degree in Physics and PhD in Physics but was employed as a Senior Lecturer in Engineering (High Voltage Engineering group) because his research area was in Electrical insulation materials. He retired as a Reader in High Voltage Engineering. The HoD of the Electric Power Engineering as at the time I left the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 2015 had a PhD in Physics and was a Professor of Electric Power Engineering. Universities in the rest of the world are closing gaps, while we are widening the gap. Since I could not close the gap, so we decided to have a High Voltage Laboratory in the Physics department.
In universities, we are academics and research workers. Irrespective of the field, we are employed to teach and do research. The yardstick for evaluating your performance is research output. Engineering graduates in academia are not left out. They are not employed as Engineers. Universities have their Engineers to do the engineering work. As an academic, you can be COREN registered to enable you to practice outside the university but not for the classroom and research labs in the university. I once asked a colleague some years back if as a university worker, he is an Engineer for real or a teacher and he was silent. I asked about the value of COREN registration in his teaching of Engineering courses, research output, and student project supervision and he could not give me a straight answer.
I still find it weird that COREN, a body regulating practicing engineers on the field is now setting standards for promotion in the Engineering departments of Nigerian universities. They will soon be telling Nigerian universities what to teach and what not to teach. The other councils of professionals will soon follow to set what they perceived as standards for the respective faculties or departments.
The interference of the Councils of professionals in the affairs of Nigerian universities has grown beyond setting promotion guidelines. They are now deciding the establishment of faculties and the duplication of academic departments. It does not matter the burden of running such faculties and departments on the universities. I am still wondering how they are able to twist the hands of NUC and the universities’ Senate and Governing Council to achieve all that. Not long ago, the Faculty of medicine in Nigerian public universities were converted to Colleges of Medical Sciences with 4 faculties and several departments, thanks to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
What baffled me was the fact that the Department of Biochemistry, for example, that has taught medical students the biochemistry they know since the inception of the study of medicine in Nigerian universities is suddenly no more qualified to teach medical students because the Lecturers do not have a degree in medicine. Very amazing! We now have duplicated Biochemistry departments across Nigerian universities that they called “Medical Biochemistry” in the college of medicine. The “medical biochemistry” will possibly be taught by the Medical Doctors based on what they learned from the Biochemists in life science while in medical school. Could this be a case of trading quality for ego?
We also, for example, have a medical microbiology department in the college of medicine, a microbiology
department in the faculty of life science, and a vet microbiology department in the faculty of Veterinary medicine.
The microbiologists will be able to explain to us the difference between the different versions of the microbiology.
I was in Norway in 2014 when the Norwegian couple at NTNU shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with a Professor at the University College London (UCL). I tried to check the structure of these 2 universities. The faculty of medicine at NTNU has no biochemistry department. The Department of Biotechnology and Food Sciences, a replica of the Biochemistry department, is in the faculty of natural science and they provide service to the faculty of Medicine as we had before the coming of the colleges of medicine in Nigerian universities.
How the increased number of departments helping to improve the quality of our academic output is what I can’t figure out. Rather than the duplication of service departments that will only increase the number of academic departments and won’t really add much value to the system but increased running cost, we should have created a college of life sciences and pulled the relevant faculties and departments into it.
Individualistic research is going extinct and most of the novelties of the 21st century are from interdisciplinary researches. One of the winners of the 2014 Nobel prize in medicine John O’Keefe is a neuroscientist in the Faculty of life sciences at the UCL with his degrees in Psychology. But the others, May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser are both neuroscientists from the Faculty of Medicine at NTNU and received their first degree from the Department of Psychology and PhD in neurophysiology at the Faculty of Medicine in Oslo.
There is nothing more fascinating than the fusing of different ideas together to produce a unique product. That is the exploration in the 21st century. The world has left us behind in individualistic ideology and moved into multidisciplinary academics. If we must make progress in our universities, we must break our erected artificial barriers that are keeping us apart. The academics in physical sciences and engineering must come together with possibly a research centre that is into cutting-edge research that will involve research groups from all the relevant departments. Same way to bring life science and medical complex together.
I have seen graduates of mathematics that became Professors of Econometrics in Economics departments in universities in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. I have seen a graduate of Chemistry that became a Professor of Engineering in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. I have seen a graduate of Physics that became a Professor of Electric Power Engineering in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. In Nigeria, I have seen Engr (Prof) XXX boldly written on our doors in the department but not in the universities in Europe. Are we having an identity crisis?
Professional bodies that are supposed to focus on the regulation of Professionals in the field should focus on their mandate and not be given free hands to change University policies as it pleases them. If we don’t end their interference, just like the medical council, COREN could wake up one day to tell our universities that there is a need for colleges of Engineering with departments of mathematics and physics to service the college because those in Mathematics and Physics departments are not qualified to teach engineering students because they don’t have engineering degrees. Vet council, Pharmaceuticals council, builders council, architects council, Quantity surveyors council, etc, may follow. So, how are we going to handle that?
Let’s stick to the founding principles of the university. Universities have world standards. We can stick to our British standard or borrow a leaf from the world’s top universities to improve our system, instead of allowing professional bodies to manipulate us and create barriers within the university system that will further slow down the progress we are to make.
Our universities are not in it’s best form and we have to do what we have to do to improve them. We should be more preoccupied with that. We should be discussing how to reposition Nigerian universities to be able to stand up to our various challenges and not duplicate departments without facilities because some Councils of professionals said so.
Finally, to my colleagues in Electric power engineering or high voltage engineering in Nigerian universities, you are welcome to experience our High Voltage Materials Laboratory in the Department of Physics, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. We have a 400 kV DC generator and 100 kV AC source with a partial discharge measurement system to serve you. Join us to learn the physics of electric power equipment. We do not have barriers!

Column

The Illusion Of Affluence -Y. Z. Ya’u

Published

on

Malam YZ Yau

 

By Y. Z. Ya’u, CITAD

I watched this advert on CNN marketing online training programmes and telling people how they could get fabulous jobs. The mantra is that with technology, there are simply too many jobs, all you need is to get the needed skills. This eldarado of affluence and abundance being created by technology is increasing. As a technology enthusiast, I might have also marketed the future in similar terms but in my most sober self, I know that this does not present a realistic picture of the future. It is either a marketing gimmick by training firms who want sell training so as to make money or is a naïve reading of the dynamics of technology in society.

To be sure technology is enabler of economic transformation. Countries that have better access to technology and more digitally connected have their economies growing faster and bigger. China and India are the usual examples, but it is not just only in the context of countries. Even within countries states or regions with better technology tend to prosper better than others. That is why today California, the host of Silicon Valley has its economy stronger than those of many other states of the USA. But not all economic transformation generates jobs, otherwise there would be no unemployment in countries like USA, China, etc.
It is also true that technology is creating new jobs as well as transferring jobs from one country to another, we have seen that many jobs have moved out of say USA to countries that have built capacity for outsourcing such as India, China, Malaysia, etc.

Teleworking and now working remotely means that jobs would travel to meet people rather than people traveling to meet jobs.

Twitter Ban:FG Infringes On The Right Of Millions -CITAD
But there is another mechanism of jobs transfer, signifying that job transfer itself is not one way traffic. Arising from the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the commoditization of education among other services such as healthcare. As commodities, they are now tradeable. As investors seek for profits, these services would be concentrated in the richer segments of the society that could afford them. Thus, many poor people will experience the paradox that while availability of these services has been enhanced, affordability has greatly been diminished. Such a paradox will exacerbate exclusion not only in the national space but also globally since Nigeria will have less affordability for these services.

As more advanced countries flood developing countries such as Nigeria with their services, they outcompete our service sectors, thus creating jobs back in their countries through the selling of their services to us. In this case, our consumption of their service transfer jobs from our country to their countries.

So, the chief character of technology is not job creation but jobs transfer and recomposition of jobs out of which some increment in quantum of jobs may result. However, even at this, for a number of reasons, the capacity of technology to create new jobs is not unlimited. This rather hyper optimist view assumes that there will also be surplus of jobs that supply of skills is unable to meet. The reality is that growth in a linear economy is exhaustive and sooner or later, an equilibrium between skills demand and supply will be reached after which there would be more skills than is demanded.

You may say that it will take long for that equilibrium to be reached and you would be right but there are also other dynamics which place limits to job creation. First, take the more commonly acknowledged that technology, through outsourcing, is creating new jobs. Outsourcing is not a net new job creator. It merely transfers jobs from one country to another such that while the receiving countries gain in the totality of new jobs created, the supply country suffers job lost in equal measure and records net increase in unemployment. That is why is policy makers of the technology decoupling hue in the USA for instance are crying about job losses due to companies moving to China where labour is cheaper compared to the USA.

The second challenge to this infinite growth is that technology is not job additive mechanism in a linear fashion. What it does is to decompose and recompose the skills needed at any given time in society. Such decomposition and recomposition means that as it creates new skills for new jobs, it kills other jobs that are no longer needed. Take for example, typists. Younger people today will not know the place of typists in organizations because they have disappeared. We have now become our own typists. Typists could retrain to get new jobs in the areas that are needed, that is what we are told.
You would be right to suggest as most technology evangelists do that it is destroying hazardous and difficult jobs or tasks. For example, there is the case of smart toilets project in India which has thrown thousands of workers who earned their livelihood cleaning toilets out of jobs. While we could frown at toilet cleaning as not a decent job, the fact is that these smart toilets have not created the new jobs that could absorb those who have lost their jobs.
Deployment of robots in factories has seen millions of workers thrown out of jobs in the industrialized countries and many of them have not yet been absorbed by the creation of new jobs. Here in Nigeria, many bank clerks and other workers were through out of jobs when banks outsourced cash disbursement/collection to ATMs and POS and there are no new places to get their jobs back. Rather banks have succeeded in trimming their workforce.

Even a leverage of technology by big competitors can result in huge job losses. This is what has happened when mobile national operators (MNOs) used their technology clout to take over the role of internet service providers (ISPs), in the process killing hundreds, if not thousands of ISPs and with that, killing millions of jobs that were provided by the ISPs but for which the MNOs have no place for. it is easy to win the argument that digitization is weeping out non-decent jobs such as the example of digitalization of toilets in India, but the creation of new decent jobs is not matching up with the job lost.

A third challenge comes from the very motive that has been fueling the evolution of technology. At the core of that is the desire by industrialists to wrestle control of job processes from the workers, reduce the cost of the cost of labour by simplifying complex industrial processes through Taylorism that breaks the tasks into simple routine and repetitive tasks. Here technology promotes deskilling. These looking for evidence of this might well recall what was needed to use the computer before the era of graphical user interface operating systems (GUIs). Users had to remember the codes before they could use the computer whereas with GUIs all you need to do is look for the icon that represents the task. So, if you want to print, you just point your mouse to the icon of the printer and click. It is that simple, no skill is needed or remembering of any code.

Technology is generated sold as a means to ease the burden of people. Yet while it can and has changed the way we do things and has invariably made life “easier” for many people this in fact is not the key reason for technological advancement. Technology is driven by three key motivations. The first is to control the labour of workers. The second is to maximize surplus extraction and the third is to expand the scope of profit extraction. All these aim at profit maximization which is at the root of capitalism. These are the arena of capital accumulation and not about making life better for the people
It is also about reducing the labour needs so that you have less number of workers doing the same work. This is at the core of the efficiency discourse: to maximize profits while reducing the cost of production. Not that there are no other reasons for technology advancement, but many other benefits of technology are accidental to the purpose of its development. The internet is a typical example. No one set out to invent the internet as we know it today. It arose out of the need to coordinate advanced research that was being done jointly by a number of universities, sited in different locations.
The fourth is direct extension of the third is which automation. Automation, a process or procedure in which factories and systems run with minimal or no human intervention beyond pressing a switch, is marketed as freeing human beings from hazardous and difficult tasks but in fact it is about doing away with workers who would take holidays, want pay rise, and could go on strike which the automated systems with have no need for. No one who deploys automation will claim to want to create new jobs or enhance employment. Deploying robots to do the work that human beings are doing cannot create new jobs. When you have self-driven cars and planes, you have no need for drivers and pilots. Similarly, when you have robots cleaning buildings, doing construction work, assembling products, supervising stores, you have no need for cleaners, labourers, clerks, etc.

As we enter into the world of internet of things, in which everything can be done by a click from wherever you are more people will be displaced by artificial intelligence-controlled systems. Consider this: Imagine closing from work. It is about 45 minutes’ drive to your house. You do not want your food cold. You click your auto-kitchen from your office and give it instructions of what you want to eat. By the time you get home, the food is laid on the table ready for you. You have discarded your cook. As you continue to give instruction to the auto kitchen of your likes, it stores, analyses and learns from this pattern of your instructions and with time, it discards you. It simply decides what you like to eat any particular time and prepare it for. It has done an extensive profiling on you. It simply takes over your decision-making function, making you feel being more like a mechanical structure yourself.

Finally, we have to consider the limitation of linearity in production and manufacturing. Extractive and consumerist models will have to hit a limit when we exhaust all the resources we are using. Linearity in technology is not just about extraction and consumption but also about creating waste whose management will continue to be a major challenge. Aside from occupying space, and generating hazardous elements, waste also contributes to the stocks of carbon dioxide that is inducing climate change. Even we go for greener energy, such as changing to solar in place of fuel-based energy, we have to remember that the elements with which solar cells are made are extracted from the environment on the basis of linearity model. That means that even renewable energy sources are not in themselves free from the challenges of linearity.

What does this mean? I should not dampen your enthusiasm or belief in technology. It can transform economy and society. It has revolutionary impact on how we live and how we produce and reproduce. But it is not that the internet produce of jobs. All those that speculations about jobs waiting for the people are either naive or simply being cynical. The truth is that technology can increase some level of availability but availability without redistribution and equity will only result in greater concentration of wealth in the hands of a few people while many will suffer in want. No technology has been invented and none will be invented that will address questions of fair play, justice, and redistribution without which there can be jobs for many, not matter how skillful they are.
Technology can improve economy and transform societies but creating jobs is not the calling of technology. Creating jobs is in the realm of politics and policy options. Let us not continue to invest technology with what it cannot do: limitless addition to the world stock of jobs from which we can make our selection by what skills we decide to acquire. Those who control technology are not interested in creating jobs. They want to maximize profit. Technology creates profits for those who own it and makes life easier for those who can afford it and only accidentally creates jobs for those that can be absorbed to the extent that it does not affect profit margins.

Malam Y.Z. Ya’u is the Executive Director centre for information technology and development (CITAD)

Continue Reading

Column

Mining Site Massacre And The Military’s Muffled Messages

Published

on

Chief of Army Staff, General Farouk Yahaya

 

By Bala Ibrahim.

About three days ago, Nigerians received the shocking reports of the massacre of scores of security operatives, including soldiers and police at a mining site in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State. According to reports, at least 43 people, including 30 soldiers, seven mobile police personnel and civilians were killed, when armed men stormed the Gold mining site, abducting many people, including several Chinese nationals.

The Nigerian Army was quick to confirm the sad story, through a statement issued by it’s Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, who said, “The troops of the Nigerian Army, deployed in Shiroro general area, responded to a distress call of bandits attack on people operating a mining site. En-route the location, the troops ran into an ambush, staged by the criminal elements. Sadly, a number of personnel paid the supreme price in the fierce firefight that ensued. Subsequently, the location has been reinforced and troops are on the trail of the criminals with some already neutralized”.

The statement added that the GOC 1 Division, has moved to the location, to take charge of the follow up operations.

World Sports Journalists Day: SWAN urges members to live up to their responsibilities

Piqued by what happened, some people began posting the images of the victims on the social media, including the soldiers killed, the action of which seems to have angered the Nigerian Army the more, compelling it to issue another statement, decrying such postings on the social media.

The press statement signed by the same Brigadier General, Onyema Nwachukwu reads,

“Some clips of the incident have surfaced online and we wish to encourage well meaning Nigerians to exercise some restraint in posting images of such occurrence, mindful that our brothers and sisters who may have lost their breadwinners deserve to be properly notified and not to get such information via the media. We mention this, mindful of the inalienable rights of citizens to use the social media which is respected”.

But if the Nigerian Army is calling on people to be mindful that our brothers and sisters, who may have lost their breadwinners deserve to be treated with respect, methinks the top echelon of the Army also needs a reminder on the idiom, respect begets respect. The ambition of the idiom is to alert our conscience to the fact that, what you send out from the core of your heart, in the form of thoughts and emotions, will result in the return of similar circumstances of thoughts and emotions to you. If you send out respectful thoughts, respect from others will come back to you.

By the muffled message from the Army, of the upper command, directing only the GOC 1 DIV, to move to the location and take charge of the follow up operations, I think the public, particularly the families of the victims, who have, as rightly observed, lost their breadwinners, have not been treated with reciprocal respect. The Army ought to do better, and make the public see that something better is being done.

30 soldiers killed in one go, at a time the Nigerian Army is celebrating it’s 159 years of existence, under the Nigerian Army Day celebration, and the Chief of Army Staff can not cancel all engagements and move there, even if on the day of the burial?

It may not be right to accuse the Army of being insensitive, but it would not be wrong to say that they have not shown enough pity and tenderness, to those that have sacrificed their today, for our own tomorrow.

Yes, PMB had described the massacre as a direct assault on Nigeria, vowing that the attackers would not go unpunished, saying the government would do everything possible to ensure the return of those abducted. But looking at the frequency of the occurrence such horrific attacks, alongside the fact that the president has been talking with such tough language repeatedly without results, one is tempted to ask, whether the authorities really know the latitude and location of the long hands of the law. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere.

Certainly something is wrong with Nigeria’s national security under Monguno, which the President does not understand or does not want to understand. And posterity may not necessarily be kind to the two of them, when it comes to unveil it’s findings on them.

On the President, it may accuse him of being a weakling commander in chief, that was ineffectual in the sanctioning of subordinates. Because, retaining the same NSA for nearly eight years, under whose watch national security is progressively going worse, is certainly a sign that something is wrong somewhere.

About two months ago, the Nation newspaper wrote and I quote:

“Last Thursday, members of the House of Representatives, while vehemently proposing that the National Assembly be shut down to force President Muhammadu Buhari to wake up to his responsibility of ensuring the protection of life and property in Nigeria, asked a question that has been on the lips of millions of Nigerians for months now. Many of the legislators who spoke on what they described as the terrible state of security across the country, demanded to know the whereabouts of National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd). Some even rhetorically wondered whether he had resigned his position. Eventually, a lawmaker called for the resignation or sacking of Monguno, saying he should have been fired along with the last set of service chiefs. Emotions ran high in the chamber during the extended debate on growing insecurity in the country”.

It is now almost four months, since the attack on the Kaduna bound train from Abuja, in which armed bandits killed at least eight persons and kidnapped many. The suspicion is that the train victims are being held somewhere in the same axis, where the Army and Police are now massacred.

Please, the C in C and the military need to act more, beyond sending mere muffled and meaningless messages.

Bala Ibrahim is an ace broadcaster who worked with the BBC and a public affairs commentator

Continue Reading

Column

Media And Islamaphobia-Adamu Ladan

Published

on

Adamu Ladan

 

By
Adamu S. Ladan (fcai)

A recent report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has found that social media companies are endangering Muslim communities by normalising abusive behavior online. According to Reuters the report said many of the abusive contents were easily identifiable, and yet there was still inaction.

“This report exposed that social media companies, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, failed to act on 89 percent of posts containing anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobic content reported to them,” the Center said.

In a joint statement in 2019, according to the report, Meta, Twitter, and Google attempted to defend themselves arguing that they were committed to upholding their “commitment to ensure they are doing all they can to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence.”

My Plan Is To Make Kano Africa’s Commercial Hub-Yakasai

However, the CCDH report countered the media companies’ spurious defence saying, “Once again, their press releases prove to be nothing more than empty promises,” pointing out that many of the abusive contents were easily identifiable, and yet there was still inaction.

The report added that, they are using hate as a good business: “Worse still, the platforms profit from this hate, gleefully monetising content, interactions, and the resulting attention and eyeballs.” The report explained.

To buttress their claim the CCDH researchers identified 530 posts which contain disturbing, bigoted, and dehumanising contents that target Muslims through racist caricatures, conspiracies, and false claims.

According to the report, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter allow users to use hashtags such as #deathtoislam, #islamiscancer and #raghead, the report further said content spread using the hashtags received at least 1.3 million impressions. Such contents further endangers these communities by driving “social divisions, normalising abusive behaviour, and encouraging offline attacks and abuse,” it added.
Perhaps that could have been responsible for the increasing rise of islamaphobia in many parts of the world. Of recent, authorities in India were “selectively and viciously cracking down on Muslims who dare to speak up…against discrimination faced by them,” Amnesty’s Aakar Patel said in a statement on Tuesday, 21/06/2023.

Regrettably, the term “Islamist” in the west and among some non-Muslims in other climes has become shorthand for “Muslims we don’t like.” It is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context and is often coupled with the term “extremist,” giving it an even more negative slant.

The frequent linkage of the term “Islamist” to violence and denial of religious and human rights is also strongly promoted by Islamophobic groups and individuals who seek to launch rhetorical attacks on Islam and Muslims, without the public censure that would normally accompany such bigoted attacks on any other faith.

In the west, it is common to find leaders using the term ‘Islamist’ without giving a hoot to its consequences on the about 2 billion adherents of the creed. There was a time, during a rare public speech, Britain’s domestic intelligence chief warned that the country was facing ‘’an alarming pace of terrorist threat worse than at any time in his 34-year career.’’

The alarm raised by the MI5 Director General, Andrew Parker while speaking to journalists in London was more emphatic on what he described as ‘’an intense U.K. terrorist threat from Islamist extremists.”
This is even as politicians long before now have claimed to have known the truth. Speaking on ‘securing a better future,’ former British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in September, 2014 for instance delivered a powerful speech exonerating Islam from atrocities committed by people claiming to be Muslims. ‘’This hateful ideology’’ she stated, ‘’has nothing to do with Islam and it is rejected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Britain and around the world.’’ She added that ‘’let this message go out that we know Islam is the religion of peace and has nothing to do with the ideology of our enemies.’’
To absolve Islam further, May said, ‘’The Qur’an says, ‘Oh mankind! We created you from a single pair of the male and female, and made into nations and tribes that you may know each other’. ‘‘It says; ‘there is no compulsion in religion.’ She concluded.

Despite such enlightened position, the Western media under whatever influence of hate has coined the word ‘Islamism’ to portray Islamic faith negatively as well as associate its faithful, with violent acts, human rights violations, and political extremism.

However, this term, ‘Islamist,’ used by many media outlets has come under scrutiny even in the Western world. In the US for instance, Ibrahim Hooper, who serves as the National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), published an op-ed calling for members of the press to stop using the word. Sadly, as Graham Fuller, the author of the book ‘ A World Without Islam’ noted, ‘’we have all become so accustomed, in the last decade or so, to a world of violence, terrorism, and suicide bombing that we have come to feel that this is the routine method of Muslim warfare’’. ‘’But, quite to the contrary,’’ said Fuller, who was the Vice Chairman, Intelligence Committee of the CIA, ‘’they represent new factors and the strategy sense”.

It is now hard to recall that about three decades ago such event were highly unusual. Fuller observed that, ‘’suicide bombing was almost unheard of in the Muslim world in the 1950s to the 1970s even at the higher of the revolutionary fervor of Arab nationalism and the disastrous defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 war with Israel. Palestinians committed terrorist act against Israel, but they were not suicide mission. It was the Shi’a of Lebanon who first began to successfully employ suicide bombings in Lebanon, with devastating effect against American targets—the US embassy and the US marine barrack in the early 1980. But it was the Hindu Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka who were the first to operationalise regular use of the suicide vest in the 1980s, with one of the highest rates of suicide operations in that era. Since that time, the frequency of suicide bombing in the Middle East has grown dramatically, peaking since the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.’’

Fuller’s position was further supported by a new report from The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) – a nonprofit news organization based in Emeryville, California, USA, which said most of the designated terrorist groups in the US are right-wing extremists, not Muslim. A joint project by the center, which has conducted investigative journalism since 1977 took a look at 201 designated terrorism incidents within the US from 2008 to 2016.

The results indicate that, “right-wing extremists were behind nearly twice as many incidents” as terror acts associated with those identified as “Islamist domestic terrorism.’’ The report identified 63 incidents involving those “motivated by a theocratic political ideology espoused by such groups as the Islamic State”. This includes the San Bernardino shootings and Boston Marathon bombings, among others.

Right-wing extremists, often white supremacists, according to the report, were responsible for 115 incidents within the same period. Events like Robert Dear’s killing of three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood women’s health clinic in December 2015 for offering abortion services fall into this category.

Regarding violent extremism on the left of the political spectrum, between 2008 and 2016 there were 19 incidents and seven deaths. The shooting of Republican Congressman playing baseball in Alexandria, Virginia also falls under this category.

The evidence from this report therefore appears to belie former USA president, Donald Trump’s rhetoric, and his “fixation” on Islam.

The report further corroborated an FBI report which shows that only a small percentage of terrorist attacks carried out on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 were perpetrated by Muslims. According to the report Non-Muslims Carried Out More than 90% of All Terrorist Attacks in America. FBI’s data compiled by Princeton University’s Loon Watch revealed that, ‘’there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% against 6%). ‘’These were not terrorists who happened to be Jews; rather, they were extremist Jews who committed acts of terrorism based on their religious passions, just like Al-Qaeda and company.’’ Loon Watch also notes that less than 1% of terror attacks in Europe were carried out by Muslims.

Since 9/11, according to Charles Kurzman, Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, writing for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and National Security and his team counts; 33 Americans have died as a result of terrorism launched by their Muslim neighbours. During that period, 180,000 Americans were murdered for reasons unrelated to terrorism.

Even on the acts committed by the so-called Muslims, Law enforcement, including “informants and undercover agents,” according to Triangle team report, were involved in “almost all of the Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered in 2012.”

The team finds that’s in keeping with the FBI’s recent practice of using undercover or double agents to encourage would-be terrorists to act on their violent desires and arresting them when they do — a practice critics say comes perilously close to entrapment.

However why despite these huge evidence that the west and the media in particular continue to malign Muslims and their creed? The answer according to many pundits could not be far-fetched from the age-long agenda of checkmating the rising profile of the religion in the world. Thus, giving a dog bad name, to hang it.

Apprehensive of prospective dominance of Islam as predicted by several researches, the west is deploying its entire media arsenal to combat the fortune of its destiny. According to a new analysis of data from the Pew Research Center; Muslims are on track to become the world’s fastest-growing major religious group in the years ahead.

Based on the analysis released by Pew, according to The World Post publication of 04/07/2017, posited that Christians make up the largest religious group in the world, at 2.3 billion people. Muslims make up the next biggest group, at just fewer than 2 billion. But the global Muslim population, the report added is relatively young, with a high fertility rate and a low death rate.

Few estimates that; in the five-year period between 2030 and 2035, the Muslim birth rate will overtake the birth rate among Christians, with 225 million babies born to Muslim families in those years, compared to 224 million among Christians.

From that point, the birth gap is only expected to increase. Between 2055 and 2060, Pew estimates, there will be 232 million births among Muslims compared to 226 million births among Christians.
In recent years, Christians have accounted for roughly 37 percent of the world’s deaths ― largely due to the advanced age of Christian populations in some parts of the world.

“This is especially true in Europe, where the number of deaths is already estimated to exceed the number of births among Christians,” Pew notes. “In Germany alone, for example, there were an estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births between 2010 and 2015, a pattern that is expected to continue across much of Europe in the decades ahead.”
By the final decades of the 21st century, Pew predicts, ‘’there will be more Muslims than Christians in the world.’’ And this is the reality the West and its allies are trying hard to fight. But would the West win this battle?

So far, the West’s approach to this stark reality is the deployment of propaganda with a view to arresting the spread of this religion. Little wonder therefore, the media is jam-packed with skewed reportage or jaundiced opinion about Islam. Hence, the coinage of names such as ‘Islamist’, ‘militants’, ‘extremist’, etc. to derogate it in the eyes of unsuspecting publics. But would this change the destiny of this religion which professes peace, concord, dialogue and social order?

Adamu S.Ladan is the Executive Director, Media Centre for Research, Education and Development (Mcred)

Continue Reading

Trending

%d bloggers like this: