Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


frankwash: NIGERIAN ARMY-SHIITE CLASH: A POTENTIAL FOR SUNNI-...: The recent bloody clash between the Nigerian Army and Shiite Movement in Nigeria that took place in Zaria, Northern Nigeria, on Saturday 12t...


The recent bloody clash between the Nigerian Army and Shiite Movement in Nigeria that took place in Zaria, Northern Nigeria, on Saturday 12th December, 2015, is capable of triggering Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict in Nigeria if not carefully and diplomatically handled by the Nigerian Government.  The Shia Muslims in Nigeria are led by Sheikh El-Zakzaky. They operate under the umbrella of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.                          

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the head of Sunni Islam worldwide while the Islamic Republic of Iran is the leader of Shiite/Shia Islam globally. The Sunni constitute about 85% of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims while the Shiite constitute about 15%. Saudi Arabia and Iran are regional enemies in the Middle Middle East and arch rivals for control of politics of the Gulf Region, and by extension, the Islamic world. The history of hostility and rivalry between Sunni and Shia Islamic followers predates the modern era and can be traced to the succession disputes that followed the death of Prophet Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic religion, in the 7th Century AD.

As a conservative ''Wahhabi'' Sunni Islamic Kingdom Saudi Arabia has close ties with the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other western countries. On the other hand, Iran is a Twelver Shia Islamic Republic founded in an anti-western revolution in what is known as the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are perceived to have aspirations for leadership of Islam and have conflicting visions of stability and regional order. They also differ on the interpretation of Islam and who should head the Islamic world. Iran sees Saudi Arabia as a puppet state or agent of the United States in the Persian Gulf representing US interests rather than Islam. On her part, Saudi Arabia is concerned and worried about Iran's consistent desire to export its revolution across the board, thereby  expanding its influence within the Persian Gulf -notably in post Saddam Iraq, the Levant and within further South, in addition to Iran's controversial, much debated nuclear nuclear program.

The enmity and rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is playing out in the relations between the two nations and has contributed and continue to contribute to the sectarian conflict  plaguing the Middle East. For instance,  the Shia-Sunni divide as epitomized  by Iran and Saudi Arabia is one of the  major factors fueling the wars raging in Syria and Yemen. Iran, a Shia state supports President Assad of Syria who is an Allawite Shia minority fighting  majority other Sunni groups in the Syrian civil war and also supports the Houthis Shia fighting the Sunni government of Yemen. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is leading a military coalition made up of majority Sunni countries to fight the Houthis Shia fighters waging war against  the government of Yemen.

Following the clash between the Nigerian Army, which in this case represents the Nigerian state, Iran was reported to have registered her anger and disappointment over the incident by summoning  Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyema and also called President Muhammadu Buhari, and warned that Nigeria should protect Shia Muslims in the country. On the part of Saudi Arabia, she was also reported to have called  and praised the Nigerian government  for cracking down on Shia Muslims, describing them as ''terrorists''.

On the surface, one may not take the calling of Nigerian government by Iran and Saudi Arabia to mean anything. However, looked at from a very critical diplomatic angle, it is a sign of formal involvement of Saudi Arabia and Iran in the internal affairs of Nigeria and also an attempt to import their mutual hostility, suspicion and religious  rivalry into Nigeria. While Saudi sees the killing of Shia Muslims in Nigeria as fight against terrorists, Iran sees it as an attack on Shia Islam and accused Nigerian government of ''committing genocide'' against minority Shia Muslims in Nigeria. Iran further warned Nigerian government to protect Shia Muslims in the country, treat the wounded and compensate families of those that died in the clash with the army. This marks the beginning of involvement of Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Islamic religious politics of Nigeria, with the former supporting the Shia and the latter supporting the Sunni. It is important to note that Nigeria has more Sunni Muslims than the Shia. Iran feels that Nigerian government is persecuting minority Shia Muslims, and has warned that she is ready and willing to protect them. It is trite to also note that Iran has been accused of sponsoring the Shia Movement, also known as the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

Furthermore, this open show of interests by Iran and Saudi Arabia in the internal affairs of Nigeria as a result of the Army-Shia clash, is coming at time when the government of Nigeria, headed byMuhammadu Buhari, himself a Sunni Muslim just joined a 34-state military alliance headed by Saudi Arabia and made up of Sunni Muslim states. The Saudis argue that the major aim of the alliance is to fight ''global Islamic terrorism''. Some might argue that Nigeria's joining of this alliance is a strategic move to defeat Boko Haram terrorism at home; but looked at from another angle or point of view, she has pitched tent with Sunni countries by joining the Saudi-led alliance and this tantamounts to a declaration of war against Shia Muslims and also capable of importing into Nigeria Sunni-Shia conflict rocking Syria, Yemen, Iraq and some other countries in the Islamic world.

Nigeria is a secular state with various religions. The country's constitution does not recognize any state religion, be it Christianity or Islam. Citizens of Nigeria are at liberty to practice any religion of their choice provided it is done in accordance with the law of the land and does not constitute security threat to the Nigerian state and and its citizens.                      

There is need for the Nigerian government to apply tact and shrewd diplomacy in handling the backlash of the Army-Shiite clash and the interferences from Iran and Saudi Arabia who are involved in sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni Islam that has tore some countries in the Middle East and the Gulf region  apart. Nigeria is a sovereign state and should not allow Saudi Arabia and Iran who are involved in a war for the 'SOUL' of Islam turn her into a battle ground for sectarian violence. We have been battling with the Boko Haram insurgency for close to seven years. This insurgency has led to the death of over 20,000 Nigerians and cost her over 6 trillion Naira and continues to gulp the country's resources even at a time she is groaning financially as a result of the dwindling fortune of oil, her economic mainstay, in the global oil market.  Nigeria is therefore warned not to play into the hands of Saudi Arabia and Iran who are only interested in projecting their selfish religious and political interests beyond their shores and cause crisis in unsuspecting countries. Nigeria CANNOT afford a sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Muslims in her territory. Such states as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and others engulfed in Sunni-Shia sectarian conflicts have been reduced to rubble and the crises rocking them continue to rage with no end in sight. No nation or state survives a religious war.

The views expressed here are exclusively mine. I take responsibility for any errors: grammatical, typographical or otherwise that may be found in this article.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Tuesday, 8 December 2015



Senator Bala Ibn Na'Allah, a senator representing Kebbi state in the Nigerian Senate, recently presented a bill in the Nigerian Senate to censor use of social media by Nigerians. This bill, if passed into law, would scrutinize activities of Nigerians on the social media: Facebook, Twitter, etc. The bill also proposes 2-year jail term or a fine of N2, 000, 000 for any Nigerian who posts anything considered offensive or unsavory against the government and political leaders of Nigeria.This move by Senator Na'Allah, is seen by many Nigerians as an attempt by the Senate to suppress free speech by majority of Nigerians, who do not have access to the conventional media, to air their views on their country's affairs.

For me, the proposed social censor bill before the Nigerian Senate, is not an important national matter. It is not a thing of priority and should not be given any attention by the Nigerian Senate.
Nigeria is in a democracy now and freedom of speech is one of the major pillars of democratic government, the world over. Our democracy would face grave dangers if freedom of speech by ordinary Nigerians, is trampled upon by the Senate. The Senate is therefore, advised to desist from further debating on the social media censor bill before it and concentrate its attention and energy on pressing national issues and challenges facing Nigeria, with a view to proffering solutions to them.
While I have no doubt that the social media bill before the Nigerian Senate will not see the light of the day, I also  recommend areas of priority in Nigeria's national life that demand and deserve urgent attention and solutions from the Nigerian Senate:

1.The Nigerian Senate should make urgent and well thought out legislation on how to revive and diversify the Nigerian economy with a view to saving it from collapse in the face of dwindling fortune of crude oil, which is the country's mainstay.

2.The Nigerian Senate should work together with the executive arm of government to fix Nigeria's moribund refineries and also build new ones for Nigeria to attain energy independence and for Nigerians to have easy and abundant access to affordable refined petroleum products. The Senate should save Nigeria from the financial hemorrhage of dubious petroleum subsidies.

3.Senator Na'Allah should send a bill to the Senate that would encourage compulsory and if possible, free primary and secondary education for Nigerian female children, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria, who are forced into early marriage by the culture and tradition there.

4. Senator Na'Allah should send a bill to the executive, that would encourage job creation in all sectors of the economy for teaming unemployed millions of Nigerian youth.

5.The Nigerian Senate should synergise with the executive arm of government and fix the power sector in Nigeria.

6.If Nigerian Senate claims that it is copying China that does not allow free speech by its citizens; I humbly advise that it desist from that, bearing in mind that China is not a democracy while Nigeria is. However, things are working in China irrespective of the fact that she is not a democracy. This is because corruption is not entertained in China and the penalty for indulging in it is death sentence. I hereby advise Senator Na'Allah to forward a bill to the Senate that would recommend and uphold death sentence for corrupt Nigerian government officials who loot state resources and keep ordinary citizens of the country in perpetual hardship and penury.

7. The Nigerian Senate should cooperate with the other arms of government in Nigeria to adopt the true federalism that would empower every state in Nigeria with the legal and administrative capacity to harness and apply economic resources in its domain for development. This is the only way out of the economic challenges and underdevelopment facing Nigeria. I wish to warn that REAL,  DANGEROUS and DESTRUCTIVE  economic TSUNAMI, with grave consequences, will befall Nigeria, SOONEST, if she failed to adopt true federalism. The possibility for the price of crude oil to fall more than what the world is experiencing now is very high, with OPEC members feuding amongst themselves, over crude production quota. Now is the time for Nigeria to act. Failure to act, we would get to a stage where the Arab Spring kind of revolution would engulf Nigeria, as a result of economic hardship and suffering inflicted  by the government, on the ordinary citizens of Nigeria.

8.The Nigerian Senate MUST pass a bill into law that would address and correct the numerous political, economic and social imbalances at the root of all the crises and woes bedeviling Nigeria. All forms of ethnic and religious killings in parts of the country MUST stop, and all those behind such killings MUST be brought to justice. Nigeria is a country built on injustice. This is the reason there is no peace in the country and peace would continue to remain a mirage to  Nigeria except justice prevails in all areas of the country's life.

I wish to end this write-up by quoting my mentor, the legendary Nelson Mandela: ''For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. As the world marks the United Nations Human Rights Day on 10th December, 2015, I call on the Nigerian Senate to respect and uphold the inalienable rights of freedom of speech by the ordinary citizens of Nigeria. Let them devote their time to using their offices as 'LEGISLATORS' to put in place legislations, measures and political strategies that would ensure the welfare and security of citizens of Nigerians. This is the SUMMUM BONU that every responsible and responsive government owes citizens of state, anywhere in the world.