You would agree with me that the duo of Sheik Ahmed Gumi and Chief Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo alias Sunday Igboho have lately been regular features in the national media space: whether for the right or the wrong reason(s), it is yours to decide!
Sheik Ahmed Gumi, a Medical Doctor, Ex-Army officer and now a revered Muslim cleric, has been advocating for a soft landing for the amorphous ransom-seeking gangs, domiciled in the swathes of uninhabited forests in the North-West, infamously referred to as “bandits” by both the security agencies and the media. To the Islamic Scholar, if Niger Delta militant generalissimos like High Chief Government Tompolo, Chief Tom Ateke and their foot soldiers could be granted amnesty and eventually rewarded with foreign scholarships and juicy oil pipeline protection contracts, then the North-West bandits should be considered in the like manner. Being Lords of the Manor of sorts in the North West forests, which cascade through states like Zamfara, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and extending to Niger State in the North-Central; the revered Sheik believes they should have the right of first refusal in the matters of security, exploitation and conservation of the resources abound in these areas. After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander!!
Not done with the favourable advocacy for these estranged children of mother-Nigeria, the revered cleric had also accused the men and women who had sworn to protect Nigerians, people who regularly sacrifice their today for Nigeria’s tomorrow albeit whose welfare is borne by Nigerian taxpayers, of being complicit in the festering armed banditry. The cleric alleged that they facilitate the movement of illegal arms into the country. Thankfully, the spokesperson for the Nigerian Army had come out to deny this ‘spurious’ but weighty allegation. In a show of gratitude for his constant citizen’s advocacy and high sense of patriotism, the Nigerian Government through the Department of State Service, finally extended its hand of friendship to the revered cleric by inviting him to a luncheon and a fire-side chat!! The outcome still remains unknown.
To Omo Igboho, Olugbeja of Modakeke and the self-assumed Aare Ona Kakanfo of the 21st century Oduduwa Republic, it is now or never for the descendants of Oranmiyan to exit this contraption called ‘Nigeria’ or ‘Craze World’–lyrically so called by Abami eda- the deceased world-renowned music maestro, also a descendant of Oranmiyan. Igboho had set the ball rolling by spearheading the resistance against alleged killer herdsmen, giving ultimatums to alleged harbourers of killer herdmen in certain communities in Oyo State and was billed to lead the botched Yoruba Nation Rally slated for 3rd July 2021, until his house was raided by the Eagle-eyed Nigerian security agents, whose proactiveness always manifests when the likes of Sunday Igboho pose a threat to national security. As the self-acclaimed emancipator of the Oduduwa race, Chief Sunday believes the perennial clamour and cries by the leaders of the South West for restructuring through constitutional means, would never earn them any concession from the almighty Federal Republic of Nigeria nor would it yield any fruit to its proponents. Therefore, breaking away remains the ‘final solution’ We wish him luck on this voyage!!!
The likes of Sheik Gumi and Chief Sunday Igboho are indispensable players in the game of nationhood for several reasons, stating only two would however suffice here. Firstly, their advocacy and agitations always bring to the fore the reality of the fault lines that exist in a heterogeneous state like Nigeria and remind both the leadership and the followership of their responsibility to continuously work towards building and sustaining a fair, just and equitable country. Secondly, the perception and reaction of the security apparatchik to such advocates and activists serves as a gauge for determining the level of entrenchment of certain democratic tenets and ethos in the country’s governance culture, while also constituting a means of assessing whether such a democracy is fledging, faltering or declining.
In a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, with diverse socio-economic and political interest groups, a nation filled with citizens professing different political ideologies and idiosyncrasies; the advocacy of the Sheik and the Chief are bound to resonate differently and be subject to varied interpretations. There is no doubt that certain interests and individuals would contend that the advocacy of the duo is appropriately made and speaks the minds of multitudes. This group could even further argue that the advocacy of the Sheik and the Chief finds support in section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) which guarantees the freedom and the right to hold and express opinion on thorny national issues. In this school of thought, there are those who would nudge on these advocates, for the simple reason that they represent the new face of brave and audacious activitism, as the country seems to be losing its crop of audacious activists who did only fight for the return of democracy but staunchly resisted the military despite their guns and bombs!
On the flip side, a multitude sworn to the idea of the indivisibility of Nigeria, would simply call Igboho’s bluff and label him a mere irritant, capable of being crushed and silenced in one breath by the ever-vigilant, efficient and effective security forces (even though they continue to contend with the technically defeated Bokom Haram and North West bandits).On the revered Sheik, another group would shout ‘Crucify him’ Crucify him’ like the Jews did shout in 33 A.D when Jesus Christ was brought before the court of Pontius Pilate. We would not be in doubt, if the opponents of the Sheik and the Chief, arrive at a consensus that the advocacy of the duo border on criminality and threatens our cherished corporate existence; so the machinery of criminal justice be deployed forthwith against them. The advocacy of our cherished national conscience- the Sheik and the Chief, would continue to sound either as a voice of reason or dissonance. I for one would stand on the fence on this one!
John Aku Ambi, a legal practitioner, resides in Kaduna