Jude Ndukwe

The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Abubakar Sa’ad, is beginning to put himself regularly in the eye of ridicule. His recent pronouncements on national matters are beginning to get neutrals worried if this man is not on a deliberate misadventure of creating confusion, tension and chaos where ordinarily there ought to be none.

With the latest absurd resolution reached by the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, led by the Sultan to “condemn in strongest terms” the decision of the NYSC to continue with its orientation camps for fresh graduates despite the Ramadan fast and also asking the Nigerian army to immediately postpone its planned recruitment exercise until after the Ramadan, one can only ask what religious elites like the Sultan want from Nigeria!

Such statements and demands from the JNI are the height of national absurdity, tragedy and a reflection of how unserious some leaders of this nation take matters of national importance burying them in the grave of religious fanaticism and hypocrisy.

NANS Nigeria NYSC Youth Corp Youth Corper
National Youth Corps, NYSC members at the Ekiti State orientation camp on Sat, Feb 4
How could the Holy month of Ramadan be unreasonably reduced to a month of laziness by some of these misinformed Islamic leaders who parade themselves as the know-all and custodian of the Islamic religion? Is there any where in the Holy Quran where it is said that there cannot be military activities during the Ramadan?

What if Nigeria suffers an aggressive breach of her territorial integrity by external forces during Ramadan, would the Sultan ask the Nigerian Army to wait until after the Ramadan before they respond? I thought the military is to be prepared at all times including the Ramadan period and the Christian Lenten season?

Such statements and calls by the Islamic body do nothing but encourage laziness among some Muslim faithful. It is a good thing that some Muslims have also condemned the resolution by JNI which is anti-progress in all its ramifications.

A friend once narrated to me how he had to sack his gateman for blatantly refusing to open the gate for him to go out simply because he was fasting. This is a gate that is literally attached to the gatehouse the gateman was staying and there was little or no distance between the gatehouse and the gate, but because religious leaders like the Sultan had inculcated in him the vice of laziness at Ramadan, he would not get up from bed to do anything including performing his primary responsibility for which he would also expect to be paid in the holy month of Ramadan.

The hypocrisy here is nauseating. Anyway, the Sultan should have known by now that Nigerians are regularly “fasting”, Rmamdan or no Ramadan, Lenten season or no Lenten Season. A country where most of her citizens hardly eat up to two meals a day, and some go to bed without any meal for the day, while some eat only once in a day, we literally run a nation of people “fasting” everyday of their lives. To now want to use a fasting period like the Ramadan to disrupt national courses amounts to religious felony against the nation.

While the Sultan is preoccupied with encouraging such indolence, a patriotic Nigerian Muslim, Ahmed Musa, scored two goals for the nation in a friendly football match against Togo in Paris on Thursday, June 1. Very soon, the Sultan and JNI will graduate to asking the NFF not to play friendly matches meant to prepare our boys against football rivals from other nations, including Islamic ones, and then graduate such banal demands to all facets of our national life.

With a competitive match coming up against South Africa on June 10, will the Sultan also ask the Confederation of African Football (CAF), to postpone the AFCON qualifying match until after the Ramadan, or will they ask the likes of Ahmed Musa not to honour the national call because of some misplaced religious sentiments?

Let me remind the Sultan that while he is busy chiding the Nigerian Army for conducting its recruitment exercise and the NYSC for opening its orientation camps in the month of Ramadan, Islamic countries like Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Niger, Algeria, Tunisia et al, are in camp with their footballers training very hard and vigorously to ensure victory for their countries and to bring glory to their nations in the AFCON qualifying series commencing on the weekend of June 9.

Furthermore, on June 1, Iraq, an Islamic country defeated Jordan, another Islamic country by one goal to nothing, in a friendly match (friendly match in Ramadan means the two countries deliberately and consciously decided to engage themselves in an energy-sapping activity like a football friendly match in the holy month of Ramadan).

As I write this essay, Oman is preparing to engage Syria, both Islamic nations, in a football friendly match. Turkey’s league is still going on even in the thick of the Ramadan and there is no talk anywhere of standing the league down until after Ramadan.

The Turkish example is even more striking because it simply means that all the players in the league would have to keep up with their daily training as usual in order not to lag behind, the Ramadan notwithstanding.

In the Ramadan period of 2016, 350 people were killed in attacks in some Islamic countries that included one right outside the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, one of the holiest sites in Islam that ended up killing four troops.

In Baghdad, 175 people were killed in an inferno caused by attacks from terrorists in the same period. Will these nations stop the training of their anti-terrorism forces, or ask their military to let down their guards because it is Ramadan?

Let us stop making a joke of important matters under the guise of religion. The hypocrisy of some of our religious leaders is so sickening!

In this country, we have had exams written during the Christian Lenten season without complains from the Christian faithful but JNI would complain that such is a disadvantage to Muslims during Ramadan. The same goes for recruitment exercises of the army, navy, air force, police, other paramilitary agencies and NYSC orientation camps.

The Islamic religious leaders must not push their luck too far. Fasting is a religious and not a civic obligation. To consistently push for it to begin to compete with national issues calls for concern. A similar call to that of JNI was made last year by the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC.

A situation where leaders of Islam are beginning to make Islam sound like alarm is alarmingly un-Islamic!

The Nigeria army and the NYSC should ignore such alarms and keep working in the overall best interest of the nation.

Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst who lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a member of The Trent’s Elite Columnists. His column is published every Friday. He tweets from @stjudendukwe.

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