ON FEBRUARY 12, 2021
Alhaji AbdulAzeez Alatoye, Head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Nigeria *Urges South-West govs to unite against criminals *Ahmadiyya has effective structures that care for members world-over *
By Haroon I. Balogun Alhaji (Barr.)
AbdulAzeez Alatoye is the Amir (President) Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Nigeria. Alatoye who is the founder and Senior Partner of Ascension Consulting Services, an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK); in this interview says there is gross injustice in Nigeria which according to him, has exacerbated the presence of violence, killings and clashes here and there.
The Ahmadiyya leader who is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN); Fellow, Nigeria Institute of Management also advised governors of the South-West states to unite against the criminal elements in the society; just as he spoke on issues of vaccines among others. Farmers-herders clashes in South- West God wants us to do justice at all times; it is by so doing we will have peace. If these two are present, there will be good governance.
If you look at the purpose of governance as stated in the constitution, which is all about the security and welfare of the people, in line with what God wants. So, if public office holders had been just in their approach, if they had shown concern about the security and welfare of the people, we would not have these incessant clashes, killings and violence here and there because justice and peace are the fundamentals that make up development even in advance countries. Regrettably, the problem is bad governance. We should govern people with utmost sincerity and justice.
We need to recognise the right of everyone irrespective of party affiliation or ethnicity. Once individual right is respected, there is no need for anybody putting gun on the head of another person. The absence of peace we are seeing today is as a result of injustice in the society. The Prophet was reported to have said that justice and peace are twins, wherever you find justice, you find peace and wherever you find injustice violence becomes the order of the day.
Acts of governance over time are replete with high rate of injustice and that is why we find ourselves in this mess. For me, this is a major challenge than what people are thinking of. The solution The solution to our problem is contained in the message of His Holiness to Mr. President. This is to dispense justice and see everyone as equal before Allah. It is our own duty as leaders to ensure justice is done to all classes of people.
I will advice Mr. President in the most respectful manner to focus on this aspect. Without justice, there cannot be peace. Let people have confidence that the government is doing what is right. There is widespread opinion that government is protecting the criminal Fulani herdsmen, more so people feel because they are from the tribe of Mr. President. So, Mr. President needs to be more careful in dealing with the issue at stake. He needs to address the issue and call the people to order. If he does that with sense of fairness and justice to all sides of the issue, people will have confidence and the matter will be resolved.
Right to self-defence The right to self-defence is Godly, and it is constitutional. You cannot fold your arms and allow somebody to kill you. No. It will be ungodly to do that. But on the other hand, we don’t want a breakdown of law and order. People have the right to self-defence. I was wondering when some say people don’t have the right to defend themselves in a situation like this. What kind of law is that? Somebody had gone to kill people with his AK47, then the police and all other security agencies kept quiet, the government was also silent and you want others to fold their arms and watch them killed the same way on their own land? No! It is absolutely wrong.
You cannot expect them to submit to the killers to be killed and take over their land. That is wrong! That is why we are saying government and its agencies that are supposed to secure the lives and property of people for which they are being paid, should do their job with outmost sincerity. The Police must do their job with justice. If there is no peace, there may not be a country. You may not be able to stop people from self-defence because it is part of life.
When the Holy Prophet was attacked in Makkah, he moved to Madinah, and when the enemies came to Madinah to attack him again, he rose in self defence. People from South-West are not calling for war, they want peace, and they don’t want to be killed. Some set of criminals came with AK47 and killed people, yet government is not doing anything about it and you say people cannot defend themselves? It is unacceptable.
But in fairness, Mr. President may not be aware of what is going on. I have listened to him a lot of times, so I do not believe he knows what is going on. But he reads newspapers and he gets briefs from his aides… It is only what you want the leader to know that he knows most times, unlike in those days when he goes out on his own. If he knows, he would have taken different approach. Advice to South-West Governors on insecurity I will give credit to the Ondo State governor. His position is clear but people quoted him wrongly or grossly misunderstood him. He is not chasing Fulanis away and he is not fighting a tribe. What he is saying is that criminals should leave the forest. All criminals should leave the forest. You mess up everything if you put Fulani or any tribe. The forest is a reserved area and by the law, it is wrong for anybody to go there without a permit. The forest is under the supervision of the government through a ministry. No individual goes there for hunting or anything without a permit.
He was misquoted as saying Fulani should leave the state. Fulani in those days we know, never carried AK47, they were known with a long stick which they use in controling their cattle and we have been living peacefully with them. This problem started about five to six years ago and I’m aware some people are attributing it to mercenaries brought in for election purposes and after the election, they refused to go back. They are the ones that have AK47, not our own Fulanis. Nigerian Fulanis only carry sticks. Now, it is very difficult to get them out of the country.
The governors of the South-West states should come together and speak with one voice that they are only after criminals in the region. All other governors in other regions should come together to provide security and welfare for their people. The effort will be to support the police in achieving security and peace in all regions. Unfortunately, most of the governors do not want to talk because of their 2023 ambition. It is about criminals and not about Fulani. I will never come against the Fulani, Igbo or Hausa. Tribe is not the issue here.
It is wrong to attack any one created by God. But all of us are supposed to be against all criminals. The pandemic and activities of the Jamaat Yes, the pandemic has taught us a great lesson. We have consistently been following the instructions of Huzoor. He has been guiding us on what we need to do at all times, to obey the rules, the health authorities and observe all protocols in order to protect our people. We have lost a number of people to the pandemic. One happened recently which shook us greatly. We still have a couple of people affected by Covid-19 undergoing treatment in different hospitals. Also, it has slowed down the businesses of our members.
The positive aspect of it is that it makes us get closer to Allah. Nobody knows when death will come. Awareness about death escalated and people engage in more spiritual activities to get closer to God more than before. We thank Allah that our prayers are granted and we will continue to pray that Allah forgives those who lost their lives and accept them as martyrs and grant quick recovery to those at various Covid centers.
Increase in prayers and getting closer to Allah is one of the positive side of the whole thing. We can also do a whole lot without converging in large numbers. The use of technology such as zoom meeting and host of others have helped us to continue our business lives without physical presence no matter the distance. That is fatastic. It also opened our eyes to how we can plan and reach our people. We have a structure and it was put to test and the result was wonderful. We have the Sadaqat Committee in every Jamat in Nigeria, and in terms of distribution, using our network system, it worked effectively and we could get to every member in any part of the country. We zoned the whole of the country into 56 circuits but now it has increased to 58. We have heads for all the circuits and under them are towns where our jamaat are located.
Each of the towns is headed by a President and each of the Presidents also has executive committee. The committee knows the addresses of all our members. We have an addressing system which we use for our monthly subscription; we know where all our members live. We got in touch with those who were having challenges and send money to their accounts using the same structure. Sending food items might be difficult because of the distance. You cannot send food from Lagos to Enugu or Sokoto for example.
We sent funds to them and we did not have any complaint of not getting to everyone that needed it. We also looked at the size of family so that we can be just in distribution of the funds. I also kept asking the circuits heads if there was any complaint from anywhere, and the result was excellent. If we got any, we quickly addressed it. We thank God. This can be replicated by the government. In doing that, we have to get the local governments right, or else it won’t work.
The chairmen at the local government level and their councillors have to know where everybody is living. That is how we can take care of them at critical times like this. So, Covid-19 challenged us and tested our structures and it worked effectively for us. Sevice to humanity The jamaat focuses on the spiritual, moral and socio-economic development of our members, but the Humanity First is an NGO of the jamaat which focuses on entire humanity. They did very well by polling resources together during the pandemic to help the masses. They distributed tons of bags of rice, beans, among other food items to this environment and others. They went from street to street and from one household to another to distribute it even to non-Muslims. Some began to wonder that they never knew Muslims were as good as this. Only what they know is the erroneous perception of terrorism. However, other activity of the Humanity First such as the school was slowed down because they couldn’t move to various areas.
We couldn’t go about supplying people boreholes and other essentials. We couldn’t even go on inspection. A few days ago, a team from Humanity First called me that they wanted to go on inspection in Oyo North; I had to tell them to hold on for a while for government to sort out the criminality going on in some parts of the state.
These are some of the impacts. Annual Jalsa salana Yes, the 2020 Jalsa Salana could not hold because of the pandemic, my message would have been to three categories of people. Our members, humanity world-over and goverments. To our members, they should be more prayerful and encourage people to be Godly. Also, I enjoin all Muslims and humanity in general to always do justice and be fair to one another.
We are all calling on only one God, one way or the other; so, there is need for peaceful coexistence. Thirdly, I implore the government to do justice at all times. The message of our Holiness, Huzoor is apt for these three categories.
Huzoor is preaching all over the world about peace. He has written to some presidents of countries in the world about justice and peaceful coexistence and he has written several books on the same topic. This would still have been my message to all. Let us pray that the pandemic is over before the end of the year, so that we hold our Jalsa Salana. If not, we would not put the life of people at risk even if it is only one.
We will not do that. How Covid-19 vaccines could be distributed The government should be fair and just in the distribution. We have a very robust channel. We have 36 states including Abuja, and under these states, we know the number of local governments we have. We also have the chairmen of these local governments, as well as counsellors who represent their wards. So, this structure is a good framework that can get to every household, but politicians here are not accountable to anybody.
His Holiness says every public office holder must be accountable to people and God. If you are not accountable to people, you will be accountable to God some day. We have a good structure; all we need is the fear of Allah by all public office holders. With that, these vaccines will be distributed with ease. As it stands now, it may be very challenging because people are not looking at it from the standpoint of being accountable to the people and fear of God. Drawing a queue from the distribution of the palliatives, when it came, people were not aware.
The governor gives the food to somebody to distribute, he takes some for himself, his family and probably his friends and send the remaining to the market to sell. He arranged the media and get photographs and video of a few distribution and he comes back to tell Mr. Governor, “Everything went very well and said all Nigerians have been fed.” The example of the Minister who told the President that all Nigerians received the Covid-19 palliative, and people began to crucify her, but in fairness to her and according to her record, she had released all the items to the states for onward distribution to Nigerians. It didn’t get to the people but stocked somewhere in various states. The Prophet said that any leader, who deceives his followers, should be looking for his place in hell.
There is no leader who steals even a pin and expects to find himself in paradise. No, it does not work out that way. You can deceive men, you can’t deceive God. My advice to the government is to work on the addressing system so that they know where every Nigerian lives such that they can go there and drop whatever palliative by the door. Apart from the pandemic, it will help the government in boosting the internally generated revenue as well as the security system. We would have been able to know who are Nigerians and who are mercenaries and there would be peace. New Service Chiefs I really don’t envy them. It is a very difficult position for them right now. But with the fear of God, they can achieve a lot.
I know it may be difficult for them fighting the herdsmen, because that will amount to fighting the government. They are professionals, but they are handicapped. We can only be supporting them with prayer, and with the fear of God, they can do better. They should do the right thing for the sake of God and not for sake of money or their own selfish interest.