By Ahmad Sajoh
Every society has a group of people who individually or collectively constitute the conscience of that society. They represent the moral compass of society. Even before the advent of monotheistic religions in the world the priest is seen as the moral compass of society. Today, the Clergy (Imams, Ulama, Reverend Fathers and Pastors) hold that title of the conscience of society. They provide the moral compass. In a sane society such a group of people are revered and respected. There is usually high societal expectations on them They are expected to be honest, pious and morally upright. They lead men and women to God. Religion is based on faith and belief. It provides the moral standards. Hence Ministers of Religion provide guidance in the direction of that moral standards. They are seen to be above narrow partisan, selfish and self-centered considerations in propagating such moral standards.
Recently there has been a flurry of activities in Adamawa State from this group of people assumed to be the moral compass of society. My concern in this write up is the purported meeting of Islamic clerics where they spoke against the leadership of women in society. With due respect to our learned Ulama, their concerns with respect to political leadership is misplaced. It is subject to wrong interpretation. If anyone sees their action within the context of the gubernatorial elections and the candidature of a woman in one of the political parties, one may not be entirely wrong. At this point in time when the two leading political parties in the state have put women in strategic positions to eventually lead the state, it is absurd that their target is just one person. No one needs to be told that they are on a mission to oppose the gubernatorial candidate of APC in the person of Her Excellency Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani. This is most unfortunate and could be interpreted as both guided and self-serving. All speeches, presentations and discussions were tailored to oppose Senator Binani. They were really focussed on opposing her candidature throughout the conference.
They even went to the ridiculous extent of making doomsday predictions for the state should a woman lead the state. That is really unfortunate. Pakistan a Muslim country made a lot of progress under a woman leader in the person of Benezir Bhuto. Today Tanzania with a sizable Muslim population is being ruled by a Muslim woman. Incidentally they achieved a lot of peace, stability and progress since she assumed office as the leader of the country. In neighbouring Cameroon, one of the best regional governors an award winner for that matter is a woman. At the height of German leadership of the world economy when it was said that if Germany sneezes the whole of Europe and by extension the whole world will catch cold, Angela Merkel a woman was the leader of Germany. Show me a nation Muslim or non-Muslim ruled by a woman that fell into disaster. But I can sight countries that became disasters under the watch of men, many of them Muslims. In all honesty the challenges facing our state and the Muslim ummah are many and varied and cannot be reduced to just which gender did we elect as our Governor.
We have huge challenges of insecurity many perpetrated by Muslims against fellow Muslims and non Muslims. Where is the conference that was held to address blood thirsty islamists posing as terrorists and insurgents? We have a huge quantum of Poverty and social inequality that had peuperised most Muslims in the state and the country, where is the conference to address that by our concerned Ulama? Corruption and primitive accumulation of wealth by our Rulers both Muslims and non Muslims have destroyed the very fabric of our country. Where is the conference to address that? Why are our Ulama only concerned about the election of a man or woman as Governor? It shoul be made clear that the core injunction of Islam in respect of leadership is the promotion of fairness, equity and justice. Usman Bin Fodio in one of his writings said a Kingdom can survive, thrive and prosper under an unbelieving Ruler who is FAIR and JUST but will not thrive or prosper under a believing Ruler who is UNJUST. This is the task before our clergy if they truly want to be our moral compass. Holding leaders to account for the promotion of equity, fairness and justice would serve society better than serving the political interests of individuals in an election period. Leadership is not about election or selection of leaders. Leadership is about equitable service delivery to the people. Leadership is about promoting the welfare and security of the people. Leadership is what our leader, the first rightly guided Caliph Abubakar Assidique (may Allah be pleased with him) said on assumption of office. “The weak will remain strong in my eyes untill I recover their rights from the strong, and the strong will remain weak in my eyes until I recover the rights of the weak which they appropriated from them” Today the weak is powerless. We are slipping into a state of anarchy where might is right. Yet our supposed conscience are serving narrow partisan interests of telling us who to vote for and who not to vote for. That is sad and unfortunate.
Nana Asmau the daughter of Shehu Usman Bin Fodio was a teacher, a leader and a moral compass in her own time. She wrote several books and essays on leadership. Her concept of the ideal person to lead a society is very simple and needs to be promoted by our Ulama if they truly desire a just society. According to Nana Asmau and several other Islamic scholars the things to look out for in a leader are fairness and justice. The consensus position of most scholars is that anyone who is not FAIR and JUST to his family, his neighbours, his friends, his co-workers and associates is not fit for leadership. This is a more rational way of looking at leadership and responsibility. Simply put anyone that lacks a sense of fairness and justice cannot be trusted to be fair and just in leadership. Why are our Ulama not holding our leaders accountable on fairness and justice? The most important ingredient of a progressive society is equitable distribution of the resources available to that society. The rich should not be so rich and unmerciful as to enable them appropriate everything to themselves without qualms. The poor should not be so very poor to ectent that they are unable to even erk out a living. But unfortunately that is where we are today. The rich are extremely rich and unmerciful. The poor are so poor and despondent. If we truly have a moral compass that is functional and not broken, they most oppose this situation and work to reverse it. And like the Chinese will say “it doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice” Therefore it doesn’t matter who configures a fair and just society in a democracy (not theocracy), man or woman, that society will thrive and prosper. The fear of God will also flourish because our God is a JUST God . The Ulama will agree with me that Islam posits that both “extreme wealth and extreme poverty” lead one away from Godliness.
Perhaps it may be appropriate to wake our respected Ulama from their slumber and tell them that their role as our moral compass is to set a template for a leadership that is fair, just and concerned with the interests and welfare of the people of Adamawa State. In response to the hardships faced by citizens in the country the Governor of Borno state declared all consultations and medications including surgeries are free in all government hospitals in the State. That is being fair. That is just. Would the anti-women leadership group muster sufficient courage to tell the government of Adamawa state to do the same? I doubt it. They would rather moralize on who to elect. Unfortunately that is clearly a partisan position. If the position adopted by our learned Ulama is to stop Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani from becoming the governor of the state, then let me tell them that it’s a failed mission. They could be leading men and women to God, but they are not God. The decision of who becomes Governor of Adamawa state in 2023 is in the hands of God and the electorates who are the instruments God will use for that purpose.
I understand the position of the Islamic scholars was made known at a conference. Perhaps it may be necessary to ask them about the sponsors of the conference. Who picked the bills? What does the person or persons hope to gain by convening such a conference at a time like this? What other concepts within the Islamic leadership realm were considered at the conference? These are all questions begging for answers from the organizers and sponsors of the conference. The tragedy of the Nigerian Muslim particularly those in the North which our Ulama should speak out against are the widening social gaps (few people have millions, while majority are barely surviving). Others are extreme poverty and loss of humanity where Muslims kill others wantonly even when Islam says when you kill one person unjustly it is like you kill all of humanity. When will our concerned Ulama hold a conference to address the knotty issue of illiteracy and out of school children wondering about as Almajiris. These are far more urgent and Germaine to our current situation than the guided self serving partisan diatribe on women leadership targeted at just one person.
Perhaps it’s time we sat down to do a thorough introspection so that we can mend our broken MORAL COMPASS. Otherwise what we have is a dysfunctional society where our supposed “conscience of society” is busy promoting the partisan interest of some individuals at the expense of our collective interests.
As always I come in peace.