Sheikh Nura Khalid’s different strokes for different presidents — Maiwada Dammallam


I doubt if Sheikh Nura Khalid, the Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters mosque, truly want to be given back the Nigeria Buhari met which he was virally on video recently asking Buhari to give Nigerians back. My doubt is based on a number of reasons as contained in his past responses (or lack of) to similar or even identical situations. I mean, does it sound sincere for Sheikh Khalid to be missing a Nigeria in which he could not attend regular prayers in his mosque without the fear of being blown to pieces or “AK-47ed” as was the case in the pre-Buhari era he’s missing? Common!

Let me make it clear that being an exceptional religious scholar doesn’t in any way make one an expert in security or governance. Worse, without the necessary information gathered by statutory intelligence agencies at one’s disposal, one cannot know it better than the president hence, making it absurd for one to self-appoint oneself as a moderator complete with powers to declare when the situation calls for extreme options like asking the president to put back the country how he met it.

I expect people in his position of influence to be more circumspect and more meticulous in their approach to national issues, especially the issue of national security which requires the best knowledge in the area and the very best information with which to competently interconnect the array of variables to build the fairest of opinion with which to feed the public especially given the diversity and volatility of Nigeria and thinness of its already overstretched fault lines.

Regardless of our sentiments and biases, we should not allow ourselves to be goaded into refusing the government our support by baseless emotive narratives built from the elevation of ignorance or mischief. The bottom line is, APC/Buhari will come and go but Nigeria will remain for Nigerians to swim or sink. Overheating the polity by people of influence making reckless sentiment-laden statements that are loaded with potentials to set the public against the government is as unfortunate as it’s dangerous.

I’m sure Sheikh Khalid cannot recall when last he heard a bomb blast in his Abuja comfort zone from where he’s being misled into believing nothing is being done to curtail the menace of insecurity by the Buhari administration. On a Facebook thread in which Sheikh Khalid was captured participating in a BBOG campaign, a commentator opined that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover — that Sheikh Khalid’s lamentations shouldn’t be politicized or (my emphasis) judged by his proximity with the ousted PDP/Jonathan administration (a topic for another day). But I see no reason why. Why shouldn’t people judge this book by its cover when the cover has summarized all there’s to say about the contents?

For instance, if after the 2014 Nyanya bombing, Sheikh Khalid could not only lead a delegation of FCT Imams to hospitals to donate materials to victims of the bombing but also, went as far as to APPRECIATE the Federal Government FOR LOOKING INTO THE SITUATION; kind of being on top of the situation militarily and administratively, why shouldn’t people see fault with his virulent and false assertion about President Buhari inheriting one Nigeria only to allow bandits to be ruling part of it?

So, which Nigeria did Buhari met as one? Is it the one in which a significant part of the Northeast was flying the flags of Boko Haram as an impenetrable sovereign caliphate or is it the one in which the wife of the country was so dangerously divided that the wife of the President could insult one part of the country by accusing them of birthing and throwing away their children just to enhance the electability of her husband whose rating was so low as caused by his poor handling of the national security?

Sure, Sheikh Khalid couldn’t have forgotten so soon, unless suffering from self-inflicted amnesia, that 2014, the period he APPRECIATED the government for looking into the security situation, was the peak of Boko Haram activities in Nigeria especially in his Abuja domain yet, not only he did not ask former President Jonathan to give Nigerians back the Nigeria he inherited from late President Yar’adua, he was on the pulpit APPRECIATING Jonathan for “LOOKING INTO THE SITUATION. Can we say with all sincerity Buhari is not looking into the situation in the manner Sheikh Khalid either ignorantly or deliberately misled Nigerians? Something is truly missing in Sheikh Khalid’s new advocacy approach and I will speculate a bit.

In a 2014 report by an online magazine titled “Unemployment, major cause of insecurity in Nigeria,” Sheikh Khalid was ably on ground urging Nigerians to support the government to tackle security challenges. Excerpt of the report read thus:

“The chief imam urged stakeholders to join hands with the Federal Government in its quest to tackle the current security challenges facing the country. He said that the challenges should not be left in the hands of the government alone, adding that it was the collective responsibility of all Nigerians to tackle them. Khalid also stressed the need for religious leaders and organisations to preach peace to their followers and avoid any act of violence wherever they found themselves.”

The report ended with a patriotic commendation for security agencies by Sheikh Khalid thus:

“The cleric commended the efforts of the security agencies in stemming the spate of terrorism in the country, adding that the Joint Task Force in the volatile areas deserved commendation in trying to repel terrorism.”

Now let’s review some major events of the era under review for the purpose of confirming the conflicts ingrained in Sheikh Khalid’s erratic responses to governance which could be said to be influenced not by patriotism but his disposition towards the government of the day. Given that Sheikh Khalid’s fury again the Buhari administration was provoked by the incessant kidnappings and sundry criminality in especially the North West, it’s very easy to see through his malleability and identify the conflicts in his changeable disposition towards governance by glancing through the timeline of events at the point Buhari met Nigeria.

Let’s rush through few of moments Sheikh Khalid is begging Buhari to give Nigerians back. On 26 February 2014: Boko Haram murders at least 59 boys at the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe state. On 14-15 April 2014: About 276 female students are kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School at the town of Chibok in Borno State. Caused by the seriousness of these events, On May 2014: The United Nations’ Security Council adds Boko Haram to its financial sanctions and arms embargo list. On 29 October 2014: Boko Haram seizes the Adamawa town of Mubi, forcing thousands to flee.

I deliberately chose to focus on the events of 2014 not because 2000 to 2013 were any less tumultuous and violent or any less serious as to call for the return of Nigeria to what it was previously. A connecting event in early 2015 may explain the motive of Sheikh Khalid’s anger as could be deduced from a review by Sheikh Khalid’s co-participant at the event.

Excerpts of the review by a Christian cleric whose name was only given as Jeremiah in a review published by Leadership Newspaper titled “Violence-Free Election: The Role Of Muslim Women” read thus:

“Your Excellency, Mama Peace, we have not gathered today to support any political party or a presidential candidate. This meeting is not the place for the distribution of any branded gift items or money. We are here to discuss peace, period.
‘My second request, Your Excellency, is for you to seize this moment and apologise for those bitter words you directed at us during some of your electioneering assertions which I will not repeat here. That word of apology will remove any rancour that may be lurking in our hearts against you. The Bible says in Matthew 5: 23-24 that if you come to the altar with an offering to the Lord and you suddenly remember that your brother has something against you, you should leave your gift at the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother, then return and make your offering.
‘Your Excellency, I respectfully request that you do just that, and I am certain that many people in this hall and those watching this event will relent towards you and even vote for your husband, Mr President on Saturday. Thank you very much.’
Unfortunately, when Mama Peace stood up to speak, she failed to seize the moment or grant any of the requests. She said it was not fitting for anybody to ask her not to campaign for her husband’s reelection in an event organised by people who are in their positions ‘by the grace of Mr President and the PDP. If Jonathan is not there, they will not be there. Those who gathered us here are appointees of Mr President.’ According to her, since it is campaign time, she has to seek votes for Mr President.
She then began a vigorous campaign for her husband’s re-election thereby frittering away the chance to be amenable and reasonable. She seemed to think that the world revolves around her. Her utterances betrayed an aggressive nature lurking behind the rustic look of harmless innocence. I wrote earlier about her not so peaceful declarations, the bulk of which I was requesting her to apologise for. Alas, I did not estimate that anyone occupying that position could be so blind to reason. Again, I wondered how ironic her nickname is.” End of quote. (Please google and read the full review).

Apparently Patience Jonathan deliberately has the event organized to solicit for the support of both Christian and Muslim leaders in the presidential elections in which her husband was a candidate and Jeremiah, a Christian cleric, felt deceived and betrayed being invited under the pretentious guise of finding ways for a Violence-Free Election and he told Patience Jonathan his heart to the fullest (please google and read the review).

In all this, one is bound to ask, where was the sincerity and doggedness of the “fiery” Sheikh Khalid that not only he made the list of an event everybody can easily agree only malleable discussant could make the list but, so far, there are no reports of him castigating Patience Jonathan’s for deviating from the theme of the event and tuning it into a direct campaign for her husband complete with the usual branded items and money provided for such events not to mention Patience Jonathan’s insistence on her right to campaign for her husband in a any forum she deem fit.

Given Sheikh Khalid’s “fearless” display of conviction about Buhari’s failure, one would expect a more furious reaction to Patience Jonathan by Sheikh Khalid especially as nobody could deny 2014 in Nigeria was a better period for one to ask for a reverse-gear even if for the few 2014 deadly events outlined earlier. Then it’s not out of order for anybody to chose to see Sheikh Khalid’s fury as mere display of underlying grievances rather than a sincere quest for a safe Nigeria.

Yes, it will make even better sense if we open up 2014 for further scrutiny to determine the sincerity of Sheikh Khalid viz-a-viz his misplaced APPRECIATION to Jonathan’s efforts in resolving insecurity and his equally misplaced call for Buhari to take back Nigeria were he met it. Sheikh Khalid’s anger was largely because Nigerians are being kidnapped and held for ransom.

But same Sheikh Khalid was part of a rally to seek for the release of over one hundred Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram — victims that remained in captivity until Buhari came and secured their release with the exception of few. How, then, will Sheikh Khalid’s call for Buhari to take Nigeria back to that era make sense if his refusal to castigate Jonathan’s inability to prevent and or at least, rescue the Chibok girls even when given the best of opportunities by being a discussant in a relevant event organized and chaired by the wife of the President in charge, is not enough to put his advocacy in its correct political perspective.

If that’s not reason enough to question the sincerity of the absurd call, does it make sense, on one hand, for one to see Jonathan as a better performer in the area of security (as Sheikh Khalid’s perpetual silence on Jonathan’s failure indicates) when his (Jonathan) administration was so reckless and insensitive as to vote $2.3bn for security and steal every dime of it to campaign for re-election, while on the other hand, see Buhari as a poor performer even with a verifiable evidence of consistent efforts to upgrade and restore the functionality of the Armed Forces of Nigeria by the Buhari administration.

In the Nigeria Sheikh Khalid is missing, bullets were rationed for soldiers while they went days fighting insurgents without food. It was the Nigeria in which security officials dress in mufti because they were afraid to be attacked by insurgents. That was a Nigeria in which each Governor in the North East bought a page in a major Newspaper to apologize to Boko Haram for saying things that annoyed the group. This was a Nigeria in which one is more likely to see the military Service Chiefs and war commanders supervising the construction sites of their multi-billion private estates in Abuja than see them anywhere near the epicenter of violence that was Nigeria’s hallmark back then — the North East!

And yes, it was a Nigeria in which bomb explosions were so regular and or nonselective as to happen in highly restricted places like the Police Force Headquarters right under the nose of the president which led to his reclusiveness and had him cocooned behind the safety of the Aso Rock villa to the end of his tenure. No one could convince me of the sincerity of any call to go back to such a Nigeria. Well, may be somebody bold enough to hold the Holy Quran on the pulpit to swear and confirm his sincerity and good intentions. Actually, this is a challenge to anybody willing to raise the stakes.