- Install ex-minister as Baba Adinni of Yorubaland
No fewer than 700 prominent Muslim leaders and distinguished Islamic scholars gathered in Abeokuta, last week, for a historic two-day conference. It was in commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the League of Imams and Alfas of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states, which also featured the installation of a former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Sarafa Tunji Isola, as the new Baba Adinni of Yorubaland. Inside the expansive auditorium of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the group deliberated and mapped out action plan on several issues pertaining to Islam and the challenges facing adherents of the religion within the Nigerian context.
The convergence inevitably brought back memories of the pioneering efforts of Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory and some of his contemporaries who in December 1962 founded Raabitat-ul-Aima wal Ulamaau (RABITAH) that later metamorphosed into the League of Imams and Alfas. It was the highly revered Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory that was inspired to put the body together after consultation with some Islamic scholars in the then Western Region. Among those consulted were Imam Abdullah Muhalli Baasunu, late Chief Imam of Ibadanland; Imam Jafaru, late Chief Imam of Abeokuta; Imam Tijani, late Chief Imam of Osogboland; Imam Aladesawe, late Chief Imam of Owoland; and Imam Jimoh Ayeni, late Chief Imam of Ado-Ekiti.
“They envisioned this great association and their dream became a reality. They nurtured the great minds of Muslims in Southwestern Nigeria and united the Ummah,” said the current President-General of the League, Sheikh Jamiu Bello Kewulere. In his address, Kewulere noted that the conference was significant because “it resonates our struggle and challenges in the spread of unity and understanding.” The scholar, who quoted from the Qur’an to justify his stance, admonished the participants to keep up the vision of “peace, unity and harmony” of the founding fathers. According to him, RABITAH has made some achievements with the uniformity in the observance of Eid celebrations and quelling of Imamship tussle wherever it rears its ugly head.
He added: “Our mentor’s (Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory) leadership role in the translation of the Glorious Qur’an from Arabic to Yoruba language and participation in the meetings of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and conferences of the Muslim World League in Makkah and Cairo are among our modest achievements.”
The conference was jointly declared open by Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser on Political Affairs to President Muhammadu Buhari. Other dignitaries in attendance included former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, represented by the NSCIA Secretary- General, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, and representatives of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; President of Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Alhaji S.O.B. Babalola; and proprietor of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN). Also at the meeting were the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Dauda Makanjuola Akinola; Asiwaju Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Tunde Badmus; Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), Iya Adinni of Yorubaland, Alhaja Sekinat Adekola, National President of National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), Alhaji Kamal’deen Akintunde, and President, Nawairudeen Grammar School, Abeokuta, Alhaji Najimdeen Awodele. In his goodwill message delivered by Ojudu, President Buhari charged Muslim clerics and Islamic scholars to use their mosques and sermons to fight corruption in Nigeria. The president noted that Muslims constitute an important bloc in the national fabric.
He, therefore, urged them to continue to pray for the survival of the nation, just as they prayed for his recovery when he was seriously ill. Buhari observed that corruption remained the biggest problem confronting the country which, according to him, requires concerted efforts to fight.
He declared that whoever engages in corrupt practices and deprive other citizens from enjoying collective benefits would not make Paradise. He said, “You should use your mosques and your preachings to disclaim corruption in our national life. That the best way to preach Islam is to let each and every citizen of this country know that corruption does not pay. “Whoever engages and embarks on corruption and deprives others of the benefits of this nation will not find Al-Jannah (Paradise).”
The president explained that prayers had played crucial role in keeping Nigeria together, urging members of the League to continue to pray for the nation’s survival and also denounce corruption at every given opportunity. “Your faith has put you in a position of privilege. The fact that everyday, you debate the unity of this country, put you in a position to give advice regularly to assist the government in solving all of the problems facing the country,” he said. Buhari urged the League not to shy away from passing suggestions, recommendations and advice capable of assisting the country in overcoming its challenges. He used the occasion to extol the virtues of the Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Ishaq Oloyede whom, he described as an ideal Muslim and good example of anticorruption.
He remarked that it was during the historic tenure of Oloyede, a Muslim scholar and secretary of the NSCIA, that JAMB remitted about N7billion into the nation’s coffers. On his part, Governor Amosun urged Muslim leaders to continue to emphasise on the unity and peace of the country. Amosun, who noted that the gathering demonstrated the oneness and unity espoused by Islam, asked the League to always offer prayers for Nigeria’s progress. He congratulated the League on its anniversary and expressed delight in the membership of both Edo and Delta states, adding that he would wish Kwara and Kogi states to also join the prestigious body.
Two lectures were delivered on the first day of the conference by erudite scholars, including Prof Kamil Koyejo Oloso, and Prof Oloyede, who respectively spoke on “The Yoruba Muslim elites and the practice of Islam in Yorubaland” and “The practice of Islam in a multi-religious society.” On the second day, the Mudeerul Markaz, Agege, Lagos, Sheikh Habeebullah Adam Abdullah Al- Ilory delivered a lecture on “League of Imams and Alfas as promoters of unity among Muslim Ummah in Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States.”
Another lecture “Unifying the practice of Islam in Yorubaland” was delivered by Prof Kamaldeen Balogun of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye. Isola, while responding on his new appointment as Baba Adinni of Yorubaland, promised to live up to the expectations by uniting all Muslims and ensuring peaceful co-existence with people of other faiths. The former minister expressed appreciation to all that contributed towards the success of the unprecedented event. At the end of the conference, the League issued a communiqué which resolved that both elite and traditional Islamic scholars must synergise for the common benefit of the Ummah. The communiqué was signed by the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Daud Makanjuola, and Sheikh Habeebullah Adam Abdullah Al- Ilory.
By subscribing to the philosophy of inclusiveness, the body resolved that Muslims must deepen their tolerance to cohabit peacefully with one another as well as with people of other faiths. It said: “Since Nigeria supposedly operates a democracy, it is incumbent on all Muslims to have a functional understanding of this. This is to enable us to make consistent case for full observance of democratic values across all facets of life of the citizens especially as they conform to the nation’s constitution.
“The conference therefore condemns uninformed official intolerance of primary religious values like women’s use of hijab as recently exemplified by otherwise civilised Nigerian Law School. “As a good strategy for growth and development, the Ummah must make conscious efforts to make Islamic education attractive to enable us to replicate many more people with knowledge and exemplary behaviour in line with the Quranic assertion that Muslims are the best among humans.
Child abuse: The silent epidemic
In Nigeria as is in many other African countries, a child is regarded as the property of the community. However, in recent times it appears the community is no longer able or willing to care for the well -being of their ‘property’ as every day children are being abused and broken. A slew of sexual predators keep emerging and are constantly launching attacks on the Nigerian child. BIWOM IKLAKI reports…
According to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2015, one in four girls and one in 10 boys in Nigerian had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. But that was in 2015, we are made to understand that the numbers are not so low any more.
According to Christianah Akindole, a Child Safety Advocate and Founder of the Christianah Faith Foundation, which is an organisation that creates awareness and educates people on Child Abuse; the numbers are much higher.
“My team and I started with awareness and prevention nine years ago, but here we are doing crises response. It has been hectic for my organisation in the past three months; maybe these abusers have decided to go on rampage this year,” she said.
She cited many cases of child sexual abuse that her organisation has been called to work with and each is more pathetic than the last.
“First a father has been abusing his four-year-old daughter since last year. The sad thing is that the mother of the child is aware but the pastor had begged her to forgive him, she didn’t report and the abuse continued.
It took an observant teacher to report the case. Unfortunately, the child already has STD. Thankfully, the man is in prison now,” she added.
The Christianah Fate Foundation is one of a handful of NGOs like Child Protection Network of Nigeria, Mirabel Centre and others that are devoted to educating and being the first responders in these situations of child abuse. They approach the education holistically by organising workshops where they educate the parents on prevention, signs of abuse in their children or wards and how to identify predators.
They also train teachers in schools and churches because sometimes, the children are more open with them. They empower the children that no one should touch their private parts and what to do if this happens; because the adults may not always be with them and when they are alone is when they are most vulnerable.
In a workshop held recently by the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) where issues of gender and sexual based violence were addressed, Director of the Directorate of Citizens’ Rights, Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Clara Ibirogba, who spoke about genderbased violence, child abuse as well as sexual assault, said all the issues are public health issues
“In Nigeria, there is a rise in cases of domestic violence and child abuse, not because there is an increase in the crime, but because more survivors are coming forward and there is more reporting (in the media) of such cases.” She explained some reasons for the reluctance of survivors to come forward as “associated stigma, confidentiality, privacy and fear of repercussions”.
The Deputy Superintendent of Police and former Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos State, Dolapo Badmus, who is a passionate advocate of the sexually abused, as is evident on her social media, was also a resource person. She took her lecture from the police angle.
She lamented the difficulty for survivors to report cases of violence and abuse because most of them are perpetrated by family members. In some cases, the survivors are coerced to pull back by things like cash, beverages and food items. Sometimes even parents of survivors tend to shield the perpetrators from the hand of the law because they do not want the family name to go to ruins.
So it is obvious that there are more cases out there than are reported even though the reported cases seem to be alarming lately. On best practices by the media, she cautioned on the need to report these cases with a sense of responsibility rather than seizing it as a chance to win awards.
Dr. Olive Ogedegbe, a Clinical Psychologist, spoke on the psychological aspect of Sexual Gender Based Violence which include but are not limited to emotional imbalance; in which case the child would be withdrawn, prone to violence, timid, low self-esteem and tend to internalise domestic violence as the best way to handle conflict. Mrs. Akindolie cited a teenage girl who was brought to her because she had slit her wrists attempting to commit suicide after going through harrowing experiences.
“The girl had suffered so much abuse and could no longer handle the physical and psychological trauma, she wanted to die.” On what may be responsible for the increase in cases of child abuse, Mrs. Akindolie opined: “Many parents don’t have time for children anymore due to economic demands and making ends meet. They delegate duties to relatives or domestic staff who often take advantage of the children.
“There was a case of a man who abused five children; three were his relatives. People are too unaware and trusting. It should not hurt to be a child.” Also, the trend of internet and pornography after watching these, predators would pounce on the children.
The five abused children said he showed them these videos before turning on them. Parents allowed their children to be too accessible. On the way forward, Mrs. Akindolie lamented that the job has been left for only NGOs. The government has not been too supportive except for Lagos State which is more pro-active in terms of enacting laws to fight the scourge.
Red Ants clear out ‘illegal invaders’ from Jo’burg properties
The Red Ants are a South African private security company specialising in clearing “illegal invaders” from properties. Two, sometimes three times a week, a convoy of trucks drives out of the gates of a sprawling farm in Gauteng province, carrying hundreds of men and led by “officers” armed with shotguns and handguns.
The company is rarely out of the headlines in South Africa and has been repeatedly accused of crimes ranging from theft to murder. It is fiercely criticised by human rights campaigners. But the attitude of the general public is more ambivalent – and the Red Ants themselves are fiercely loyal to each other and their employers. “We are a family. We look after each other … We have built a community,” says Johan Bosch, the farmer who founded and owns the company.
A lack of adequate housing is one of the most toxic legacies of the apartheid regime that governed South Africa for nearly 50 years. Families, migrant workers, students and homeless people pay middlemen for plots on wasteland around Pretoria and Johannesburg or in derelict buildings in the cities’ centres. Local authorities show little sympathy and say they have to enforce the law. Their chosen enforcers are the police and, to provide the manpower for evictions, the Red Ants.
Fattis Mansions was once a fashionable 1930s block of flats in the heart of the banking and legal district in Johannesburg. Wealthy, mainly white, residents fled Johannesburg’s centre during the late 1980s and early 1990s, leaving hundreds of buildings to be taken over by poor migrants from rural areas. Four hundred people shared three taps. There were no toilets or electricity. The city authorities have been clearing these “hijacked buildings” one at a time for years – often using the Red Ants.
The operation, involving 600 Red Ants, begins in the early morning, without warning. Wailing police sirens fill narrow streets. The Red Ants pour through an entrance, then proceed on rusting iron stairways and down filthy corridors. There is no resistance. The pushers, gang leaders and the rent extorters have gone. Rubbish, furniture, mattresses pile on the roadway outside.
The singing starts, low and purposeful, as the Red Ants work. Children are carried out, followed by distressed mothers clutching salvaged belongings in plastic bags. Most adults knew this would happen one day. For those too young to understand, the sky has fallen in.
Who are the men in the red overalls? They come from impoverished small former mining towns, from distant provincial villages in parched mountains, from Soweto, from hardscrabble neighbourhoods half hidden amid the urban sprawl of Johannesburg. Most are young.
Many are without basic educational qualifications. Some have criminal records. A few are former convicts. All are poor. They are paid the equivalent of $10 (£7.50) a day, plus some food. Many are squatters themselves.
One left neighbouring Mozambique to work on building sites but has struggled to find employment. “My wife said get a job … so I did,” he says, shrugging narrow shoulders. Another says he has siblings to feed and clothe and send to school: “No one likes doing this … But I go to church every Sunday and pray for my soul and I know my Lord is watching over me, even here.” All say they feel sorry for the squatters but “work is work”.
In charge are older men whose own life stories are intimately intertwined with the complex, troubled history of their nation. One fought in the 80s in the South African defence forces in cold war battles in Angola. Another, a former police officer from Soweto whose family was deeply involved in the struggle against apartheid, say his career ended when he denounced corruption. He says his work reminds him of his time in the police. He now suffers from chronic insomnia.
First you see the smoke, above the dry hills and the scattered corrugated iron homes. Then you hear the noise. If the operation is going well, it is that of a work site: hammers rhythmically striking metal, straining diesel engines, work songs, radios, and shouted orders. If the operation is going badly, the noise is of a battle: shattering glass, rocks striking plastic shields, stamping feet, shots, sirens and screamed abuse.
Sikhumbuzo Dlamini, a Red Ant leader, watches 650 men, equipped with crowbars and shields, and all dressed in identical red overalls and helmets, move through an illegal squatter camp on the ragged outskirts of Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. “We always win. We have to win … we are on enemy territory. We are a long way from home,” Dlamini says.
One incident prompts a slew of new allegations. The Red Ants are hired to clear squatters from land where a shopping complex is due to be built in Lanesia, on the southern outskirts of Johannesburg. The operation starts in the early morning. But the squatters are ready and fight the Red Ants with machetes, rocks and staves.
The eviction stalls and the Red Ants withdraw. Two squatters lie on the ground. One is dying from head injuries, the other is dead. Under a tree, huddled in a plastic chair salvaged from her makeshift hut, a widow sobs. The violence prompts investigation by private security industry regulators. The Red Ants deny wrongdoing.
Red Ants are injured, sometimes even killed. Kervin Woods died when land invaders opened fire in Lenasia South. The Red Ants said community members stabbed him, some using screwdrivers, after he fell to the ground. Preparations were made to set fire to his body when Red Ants started shooting, dispersing the crowd.
Woods’s funeral takes place in Soweto. The dead man’s aunt weeps, comforted by a handful of family members and neighbours. But this is primarily a Red Ants funeral. Senior leaders salute the coffin and deliver short eulogies before the rank and file sing hymns as the coffin is closed. Then, as a guard of honour, they follow a hearse to a cemetery where they sing as each takes a turn with a shovel to pour dry soil into the grave.
Handguns and shotguns are fired into the air in a final salute before the Red Ants return to their buses and their base for a memorial meal. Within days, they are out on another clearance operation.
South Africa is a fractured land. It is optimistically known as the Rainbow Nation, a reference to the diversity of its communities. But in a rainbow, the colours remain separate. The most striking divide in South Africa is economic. The Red Ants are on the frontlines of a conflict between those with land and those without, the haves and the have-nots, the winners and the losers in one of the most unequal countries in the world. During their 12-hour days, they are on one side. But when their work is done, they return to the other.
•Courtesy: The Guardian
APC with Adams Oshiomole: A time Bomb
One need, no microscope to identify the serious crack on the political wall holding the All Progressives Congress (APC) together as a political party already caused by the outcome of the various concluded congresses of the party; but the singular issue that may finally seal the coffin of the party is if those forcefully pushing for the chairmanship of Adams Oshiomole the immediate past Governor of Edo State.
Oshiomole is a good man and very strict on principles no doubt about that, but his chairmanship of APC at this time is a time bomb.
Everybody is aware that those pushing for his candidature are not doing so for the general interest of the party but for their selfish interest haven felt under Oyegun, the outgoing chairman, that they were not given a free hand to manipulate the party to their wishes.
What these people seem not to realize is that APC is a conglomerate of varying interests and in order to for the party to succeed all the various interests must be harmonised and accomodated at every given time which is what Oyegun led National Working Committee were doing.
The time frame between now and the Party’s National Convention slated for june could be a golden opportunity for the party to make the necessary corrections that would save them.
APC is on the brinx of total collapse if care is not taken; if those pushing forward Oshomole are not curtailed or stopped completely. If the APC stakeholders, both the high and the low are correctly and currently feeling the mood and pulse of the members, maybe they would understand the situation and carefully avoid the “tsunami” that might hit the party should those pushing Oshiomole for chairmanship succeeds.
Majority of the members across the nation are aggrieved for one reason or the other and the outcome of the various congresses have excalated the greviance in the various quarters; the only thing that can save the situation is the choice of a chairman that would be open and accessible to all interest parties.
Who would be the next chairman of APC is the only miracle that can save the party. Its is not a hidden fact that a National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his camp are the ones behind the candidature of Adams Oshiomole. This group has blackmailed President Muahmmadu Buhari into submitting to their demands and desires in controlling the Party as that is the only way they can support the Presidents re-election bid.
The President looking helpless seems to be agreeing with them. This group being beclouded by their selfish interest failed to accommodate the other interests in the party and this can only bring doom to the party even before the election. For APC to succeed, all various interests must be carried along in the choice of the next chairman.
Other groups feeling intimidated by the Tinubu camp with the President’s reluctant support are just silently waiting for the party and of cause President Buhari to make the mistake by installing Oshiomole then they will explode the bomb and bet me that would be the end of APC as a party.
Come to think of it, with the wealth of experience that Oshiomole has acquired over the years as a former governor, won’t it be better the President appoint him a minister in one of the serious ministries like Power or Labour or Transport, those areas that we have so much deficiencies to help rejig his administration. Instead of a mere Party Chairman won’t ‘Osho’ be better off serving this nation on a wider scope?
Pushing the Comrade into a toothless APC chairman is a monumental waste of a great human resources. He should be given the opportunity to serve Nigeria on a higher level.
Yes, he is one of the foundation pillars of the party, but should we use the palm oil meant to eat a full chicken to eat only the tiny legs? What the ruling party needs at this point is somebody who is completely neutral from the interest game going on in the Party.
Its a critical time for our dear APC and every effort should be made to avoid stepping on the landmines planted all around the party. The mood of Nigerians is not in the favour of the Party at all and crowning with excalated internal rangling would be suicidal. With the Comrade as chairman the party would be heading to the grave not even the gutters. Consensus must be reached to accomodate all the various interests at the National Convention. Somebody like Clement Ebri, a one time governor of the old Cross River should be looked at.
He has integrity, he is neutral; strong willed; experienced and above all efficient. He does not belong to any camp and he is a very good manager of people. With Somebody like Clement Ebri, every nerves in the party would be calmed because its sure every interest would be at ease.
Ebri will receive acceptance among all the stakeholders and members alike. He is a perfect gentle and a true leader. This is the kind of consensus candidature that APC should be pursuing at this juncture. Knowing very well that Comrade Oshiomole is being projected by the Tinubu camp, how would anybody expect the Saraki camp to accept him? What about the interest of the nPDP, how are they sure of their future in the Party?
And many other interests right down to the various states, local government areas and wards. I pray that the APC stakeholders would come to their senses and do the right thing to save the situation for some of us that look up to the party to bring a good change. I pray that APC won’t come from their record breaking achievement as the first party to take over power from an incumbent President to being the shortest ever lived political party in Africa. A stitch in time they say, saves nine.
I call on the President also to please think about the mistake that is about to happen and find a way of convincing the Asiwaju camp to realize the implications attached to the Oshiomole chairmanship. I believe they will see reason. Clement Ebri is very a very accommodating gentleman who will surely protect all the interests in the party in such a way that the party might survive and continue to shine. Let common sense prevail and may the change in leadership be a positive change to all members.
Long Live APC.
Dr Lawal, is of the APC North Central
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