Friday, December 26, 2014

REMOVING THE ARABIC ON NAIRA NOTES (2)




Did non-Muslims use Ajami? Yes, as it was a widely used medium of communication in West Africa in particular and there is nothing strange or sacrilegious about that. Arab Christians use Arabic Bibles in their church services. It reminds me of the fiction work called “Who is this Allah” where a non-existent GJO Moshay says Allah is the name of an idol but foolishly forgot that Allah is the name for God in Arab-speaking churches worldwide and in Hausa speaking communities. I have two different versions of Arabic Bibles myself. 
Ignorance is the only explanation for rejecting Ajami thinking it is a Muslim ‘thing’. Even if it was Arabic, history tells us that the current Arabic letters came from Nabatean Aramaic letters. The numbers on the naira notes are still Arabic. Any student of mathematics history will tell you that our current numbers came from Arabic numbers. The later addition is the zero, which came from the Sanskrit language. Arabs called it sifr and the anglicised form is what we now call zero. 
If you look at the original flag of Nigeria before the Union Jack and independence, you will notice that it has the symbol of Zionism, the Star of David, as it is called, in the centre. The same is on the penny coins of that era. This is clearly a Jewish symbol. The British colonialists were not Jewish, but they used the symbol all the same. Our hospitals all carry the symbol of the Cross, which Muslims consider blasphemy, as the symbol of a health facility. No one is addressing these issues among the non-Muslims complaining about Ajami. It was fairly recently that the Red Cross Society added the Red Crescent to their emblem for Muslim communities.
We also have the objections of people who understand it is not Arabic but Hausa written in Arabic characters. They say it is tribal imperialism because other languages are not there. Do these people remember who started putting Ajami on our money? I think they do not. The colonialists put Ajami on our money to solve a communication problem with millions of people who were used to a different writing system than the new one. They knew that many Northerners also avoided the missionary schools where their children were often converted forcefully to Christianity and given Christian names. This meant that only a small percentage of them would be able to read the new Latin letters. It was for them the coins and the notes had these extra inscriptions. 
If the CBN had said that, since a large number of Hausa speaking, Ajami-literate people could now read Latin characters, they wish to remove the Ajami, it would have made better sense. Only that it would give birth to new questions: What is wrong with leaving it there? Does it cost extra to leave it? Does it harm anyone? Is it aesthetically unsuitable? Does it affect the use of the naira in any way? Stretching the argument, we could even ask, “Why put anything at all? Why not remove the Latin letters too and leave just numbers?” This is just addressing the flawed arguments people have been advancing so far. I agree that its original purpose is hardly relevant again but why not leave it for its historical, cultural and aesthetic values.
At the other end of the spectrum are the Muslims who say that removing it is an attack on Islam. To be frank, this is another silly argument. How is it an attack on Islam? Arabic predates Islam by centuries; how is the removal of a script based on its letters an attack on Muslims? We have to provoke serious thinking among ourselves in this country. I read of a claim that removing the Ajami script was a way to Christianise Nigeria. We should get an award for the most incredible claims on earth. These claimants no doubt belong in the category of those who do not know the history and purpose of the script on our currency notes and coins.
A respected brother and staunch defender of the rights of Muslims was a prominent proponent of that claim. He even added the new security mark that looks like the Star of David of the Zionists on the new 100-naira bill as further evidence of the ‘agenda’ to Christianise Nigeria. The respected brother got it wrong on both counts. The symbol he wrongly labelled as the Star of David is actually the superimposed squares that form an eight-pointed star that is widely used in Islamic architecture and in the design of the Quran called the Rub’ul Hizb. It has also become a symbol in recent times for the Church of Latter Day Saints who call it the Seal of Melchizedek. The president is not a Muslim and is not of that denomination. Emefiele of the CBN is Catholic. If you go to the National Mosque, you will find many eight-pointed stars as part of the aesthetics. I do not even want to mention the issue of Israelis which a Muslim, Babangida, started. 
If we want to stand for justice and fairness, it must begin with ourselves. The Nigerian Army coat of arms has the inscription, “Victory is from God” written in Arabic (As Saf, 61:13). It is part of the Qur’an that we are using as the motto of our Army. We should demand its removal for two reasons. Firstly is the sacrilege of wearing Allah’s name on Army paraphernalia to the toilet and other filthy places including beer joints. The second reason is fairness. In a national institution that is not peculiar to one faith, it is unfair to use part of our scripture as motto. I guess most Christians and Muslims are unaware of this, as it would have started another bigots’ war.
At the foundation stone laying ceremony of the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), someone took a photograph of the late Sardauna of Sokoto beside the marble plaque to mark the event. What struck me were the words underneath the rest. The sentence was in Arabic and although the picture here is grainy, anyone that is conversant with the Qur’an will tell you the words are from Surah12 (Yusuf):76: “…and over every lord of knowledge there is one more knowing.” 
ABU is a federal institution funded with taxpayers’ money. It belongs to neither Muslims nor Christians. Why do we have a verse of the Qur’an there when there is no verse of the Bible? This is not fair and we should talk about it. This is however not the same with the logo of the school that is written in Arabic. The history of the school shows that Ahmadu Bello College for Arabic and Islamic Studies was part of what merged to become the second largest university in Africa in 1960. We understand, therefore, that the two languages were used to write the name of the institution. 
All I ask the spirited Muslim is to sincerely put himself in the non-Muslims’ shoes and see if he would like the Quranic inscriptions on the Army emblem and the plaque. I also urge the ardent Christian to wear the Muslims’ shoes for a while and see whether he would be happy to see the cross as the symbol for public hospitals. We must hold ourselves to these exacting standards if we want change.
Muslims must demand the removal of the Qur’anic verses in the two institutions I have mentioned and other government owned places while Christians should ask that their religious symbols be removed from government-owned places too. In addition, the government must address the inequalities in holidays, the forced dressing/appearance in Christian attires for many professionals and other issues that both Muslims and Christians feel they are being oppressed or sidelined. Anything short of this will be hypocritical.
My submission on the Ajami script is that it is part of our cultural heritage and history of our monetary system. Just as we have the photographs of great men who helped shape our Central Bank’s history and the nation’s history on the bank notes, I advise that the CBN should leave the Ajami scripts. They are unique to Nigeria and the naira note looks shorn of a certain sentimental value when it is without Ajami. It causes no harm to leave it. On the other hand, if these entreaties do not cause any change of mind, I urge Muslims to be calm, as it does not harm us even if it was calculated to harm us. 
An insult you are unaware of does not hurt you. Those who think they have gained a victory with its removal should know that bigotry does not add to anyone; it takes away from you. If the hatred for a people would bring about unintelligent arguments from otherwise eminent scholars, then what do you expect from less endowed people?

Friday, December 19, 2014

REMOVING THE ARABIC ON NAIRA NOTES (1)





“O You who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah; even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a better protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, Verily, Allah is ever Well-acquainted with what you do.” 
The divine words of instruction above will be the thrust of my piece. It is in respect of the controversy that has greeted the unveiling of the new 100-naira note to commemorate the centenary celebration of our country. Today, Friday, December 19, 2014, is the official release date of the new note, which shall be in circulation with the old 100 naira.
The main point of contention is the removal of the Arabic letters on the note. On one hand, you have some Muslims and those with a penchant for history and preservation of culture who are against the removal of the Arabic letters. On the other are Muslims who are unaffected by the removal, a large number of Christians and those without any sense of history who are glad to see the letters go.
The reasons for removing the letters, as explained by the two CBN Governors who have so far championed the removal, are the first we should analyse. Any ulterior motive is unknown to us as Muslims and we do not second-guess anybody. We also will not dwell on the fact that both times the scripts have been removed a Christian was heading the CBN. A Christian headed the CBN when Islamic non-interest banking was in process too.  Let us look at Soludo’s reasons for removing the letters:
 “I will like to inform you that the removal of the Arabic inscription on the notes is not targeted at any group or religion, but rather, to promote our language and cultural heritage. As you can see, Naira is the symbol of our nationalism and our pride. It is pertinent for you to understand that Arabic is not one of our national languages and it was inscribed on the notes 40 years ago because the majority of people then can read it in the Northern part of the country at the detriment of their counterparts in the South…. So we want journalists to assist in enlightening the public on the new notes and reforms going on, especially removal of the Arabic letters in the currency which is done to promote national unity.” -Thisday Newspaper, February 16 2006
Dr Shamsudeen Usman, the erstwhile Minister of National Planning, concurred with Soludo at the time. He is a devout Muslim while Soludo is a Catholic.
I have two problems with Professor’s assertions. The first one reflects how poorly our leaders are doing in history awareness and the second is with the rather childish quality of the reasoning.
Arabic has been a part of Nigeria’s language before the English ever dreamt of getting here. When Luggard reached Northern Nigeria, there were about 25,000 schools whose lingua franca was Arabic and Hausa. They wrote both languages using Arabic alphabets. The whole of West Africa knew Arabic as a major language and its alphabets were widely used to write native languages. Since the languages were not Arabic, people called them Ajami (writing in Arabic characters). It was one of the preponderant orthographies of the time. Lord Luggard had to engage the services of a linguist to find a way to codify Hausa language using Latin letters (what we call the English alphabets). He reasoned that learning Hausa through Ajami would entail learning Arabic first, since Ajami was derived from Arabic. A more cumbersome route in his opinion.
In Nigeria, apart from the Hausa language, the Yorubas also wrote their language in Ajami at least a hundred years before the coming of the colonialists. Yorubas were in contact with Arabic speaking Muslims and Islam before Christianity. In fact, in reference to the fact that Malian traders brought Islam to the Yoruba people, Islam was nicknamed “Esin Imale”, the Malian religion. Spanish documents still exist in Ajami script. Read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajami_script
Arabic is one of the five most widely used languages and it has a rich history. Incidentally, Arabic letters were derived from Aramaic letters (the original language of the Hebrews). A little bit of research would have helped Professor Soludo. The resources are free.
Soludo said that removing Ajami would “promote our language and cultural heritage” and “promote national unity”. I fail to see how that would happen. On the contrary, removing Ajami looks more like obliterating a chunk of our language and cultural heritage. Soludo removed the inscriptions on the lower denomination notes but left them on the 100, 200, 500 and 1000-naira notes. If it was for the reasons he mentioned, why did he retain the rest? Puerile explanations insult our collective intelligence. And Soludo is by no means a fool.
Before the first phase of removal, I must mention that there were few objections to the presence of the Ajami script on the naira notes. The notable ones include Wole Soyinka’s reference to the script and the so-called Arewa emblem, which he claimed, was a planned, subliminal way of subjugating the rest of the country to Hausa rule. Soyinka is not a Christian; he is a pagan with much hatred for Islam and the North. His objections, like most of his interventions outside his field, are just hot air. He seems to forget what he won the Nobel Prize in, and fancies himself an expert in areas beyond his ken. The second notable objection was by one Comrade Akinloye Segun Oyeniyi, who claimed to be a trained linguist. 
He wrote a letter to the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, which reads in part, “Mr President sir, as a trained linguist and translator, I stand to say this imposition of an alien language on one of Nigerian symbols of sovereignty is putting entire Nigerians into “language slavery” which undoubtedly is general insecurity socio-economically, socio-culturally and socio-politically and denial of cultural rights via language as citizens of the nation”. So much for his training! 
Oyeniyi wrote an earlier letter in May 2005 and shortly afterward, Ajami was removed from the lower denominations as I earlier wrote, with the not too bright explanations of the then CBN Governor. We may never know the real reasons for their objections, but it is clear that these were not objective objections. The current CBN Governor’s reasons do not differ from that of Soludo so there is no need to mention them separately.
The Ajami script is an integral part of the Hausa language, which, incidentally, is mainly adapted Arabic. The so-called linguist was unaware of this and he was unaware of the influence of Arabic in his own Yoruba language. I wonder where he schooled.
Let us examine the objections of non-Muslims to the script. One assertion is that it is Quranic language and that Nigeria is a secular state. That is as silly as saying that the Latin letters with which I have written this article are Biblical because of their usage in writing the Bible. We have been using the same letters to write our native names that did not come from English. Hausa was similarly rewritten in Latin characters to help the colonialists learn Hausa faster. Ajami was the default. By the way, those who learnt the Latin letters seem to think they are somehow superior to those who learnt the adapted Arabic orthography called Ajami. Their Latin-letter literate brethren in the South call them illiterate - an irony if you want one!

Many of them also think Muslims put the script on our currency notes. This is plain bigotry. The internet is a wonderful place to look for information; I will not digress too far on the topic. Anyone with internet access can see the pictures of British West African Government coins dating back to 1936 or even earlier having Arabic on them; not even Ajami. So why would a British, Christian government do that? They realised it was a language in which many of their subjects were literate and it would facilitate easy acceptability of the coins and notes. You can check the same thing for the one-pound note. The only difference was that the pound note used Ajami instead of actual Arabic. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

EMIR OF KANO’S KHUTBAH AFTER THE BLASTS






In defiance to whatever the Kano bomb blasts set out to achieve, His Royal Highness, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, cut short his international trip, visited the injured in hospitals around the City, and led prayers in the Kano Central Mosque which was hitherto deserted after the bomb incident. He ordered that the mosque be cleansed of the desecration brought upon it of killing and spilling of blood in readiness for the resumption of normal salawaat. In that connection, the Emir  led the Friday prayer in the same mosque and delivered his Khubah on the unfortunate events that occurred there penultimate week.

In gargajiya setting, you cannot write your own Khutbah according to current events in the society. You take from a Khutbah-legacy left by your ancestors or people who have passed away, and repeat what they delivered decades ago to an audience that lived under different circumstances from what obtains today. But His Royal Highness has radically altered all that! Since his ascension to the throne and assumption of the imamship of the mosque, Emir Muhammad Sanusi has shown that traditional rulers are not custodians of gargajiya but instructors in the deen and leaders of the Ummah; that Friday Khutbah means admonishing the people on real happenings around them, preparing them on how to adapt to the vicissitudes of daily life, and warning them of anything capable of distressing or causing them harm.

I got an audio-message of the Khutbah of His Royal Highness through WhatsApp sent by one of my contacts, and I decided to summarise, render it into English and share it with my readers. Listening to his well-articulated Arabic muddles my perception as to which of these languages is the Emir of Kano more proficient in - English or Arabic. Enjoy: 

“Whatever Allah wills, shall come to pass; whatever He has not destined will come to naught. In His hands is the dominion of all things. He has power over all things. I glorify His Holy Name with all praise that is His due; what I know of if, and that which I cannot fathom. 

“I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah, the One and Only, who is without partners. I bear witness that  our Master, and Prophet Muhammad, is His Servant and Messenger; blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, and upon his honoured household, and companions, who were superintendents of guidance, and those who followed in their footsteps until the day of the Great Assembly.

“O! Servants of Allah, I adjure you, and myself, to keep your duty unto your Maker. The Allah-conscious is safe and protected. I warn you against sin for it destroys in world, and disgraces in the Hereafter.

“O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam. (Aali Imraan, 3:102) O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered [like seeds] countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual [rights], and [reverence] the wombs [That bore you]: for Allah ever watches over you. (An-Nisaa, 4:1) O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and [always] say a word directed to the Right: That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest achievement. (al-Ahzaab, 33:70-71)

“Brothers and Sisters in Faith! We have witnessed, in this City, - may Allah guard it against the machinations of evildoers - a disastrous day, a calamitous day in which Muslims were attacked with bombs and bullets while they stood facing the qiblah in Salaah, in one of Allah’s Houses, and in the best day of the week. They were mown down as they stood in adoration to Allah; from those who died on the spot, those whose flesh was scattered, those whose limbs were torn asunder, to those who were severely injured. From those who were drowned in the argosy of their own blood, to those burnt by the raging flames of their clothes. All of them, the living among them and the murdered, after concluding preparations for Salaah, were barred from prostrating to their Lord and Cherisher; after taking bath, leaving home and heading to their Lord’s Countenance, they were barred from chanting His hymn and complying with His commandment. 

“What is more ruinous to places of worship than this? Listen to Allah’s words concerning those who purposed to ruin places of worship: “And who is more unjust than he who forbids that in places for the worship of Allah, Allah's name should be celebrated? - whose zeal is [in fact] to ruin them? It was not fitting that such should themselves enter them except in fear. For them there is nothing but disgrace in this world, and in the world to come, an exceeding torment.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:114)

“As for those killed unjustly and in transgression, we ardently hope that Allah will admit them among the martyrs, those who would glory in the Grace and the bounty from Allah; for they died while doing righteous deed. He is a martyr, who dies in a state of obedience to Allah. As reported by Huzaifah Ibn Al-Yamaan, that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, said, ‘He who says, ‘Laa alaaha illallaah’, seeking by that Allah’s Face, and his deeds are sealed with it (as his last deed), enters Jannah; he who fasts one day, seeking by that Allah’s Face, and his deeds are sealed with it, enters Jannah; and he who gives charity, seeking by that Allah’s Face, and his deeds are sealed with it, enters Jannah.’

“Also, ‘…he who is killed while defending his deen is a shaheed, he who is killed while defending his blood (person) is a shaheed.’ 

“Allah said, ‘And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: "They are dead.” Nay, they are living, though ye perceive [it] not.’ (Al-Baqarah, 2:154) ‘Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord;’ (Aali Imraan, 3:169)

“We beseech Allah, the Lord of the oppressed, in view of the blood split in one of His Houses, to bless the dead, to grant quick recovery to the injured, to establish the light of faith in this City, and make us depart this world with certitude in His deen and on the path of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah, (followers of the Traditions of the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him). 

“Those who transgressed, and were haughty against us, were hoping to strike terror into our hearts and distance us from our places of devotion to our Lord. They meditated a plot which failed to yield the desired result. Doubtless, we shall, Allah-willing, doggedly continue to raise the standard of the monuments of our creed, and stubbornly cling to the guidance of Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, however much the miscreants are averse. 

“O Muslims! Be mindful of your worship to your Maker; for one to be killed when they are in Salaah, advancing (towards the enemy), and not backsliding - that is success indeed, and triumph! And days are liable to mutation; (a day in your favour; another against you). Allah said, ‘If a wound hath touched you, be sure a similar wound hath touched the others. Such days [of varying fortunes] We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks Martyr-witnesses [to Truth]. And Allah loveth not those that do wrong.’ (Aali Imraan, 3:140)

“We certainly believe in Allah’s decree in what He has destined, as we read in the Hadeeth, ‘Whatever Allah wills, shall come to pass; whatever He has not destined will come to naught.’ But do not be in doubt that these transgressors, whosoever they might be, are waging war against Allah and His Messenger, and working corruption on the earth. Between us and them is Allah’s Wrath and Grip. ‘Truly strong is the Grip [and Power] of thy Lord. It is He Who creates from the very beginning, and He can restore [life]. And  He is the Oft-Forgiving, Full of Loving-Kindness, Lord of the Throne of Glory, Doer [without let] of all that He intends. Has the story reached thee, of the forces - Of Pharaoh and the Thamud? And yet the unbelievers [persist] in rejecting [the Truth]! But Allah doth encompass them from behind! Day, this is a Glorious Qur’an,  [Inscribed] in a Tablet Preserved!’ ” (Buruuj, 85:12-22)









Friday, December 5, 2014

ALLAH YA ISA











When the Hausa man says Allah ya isa, he means Allah suffices me, Allah is sufficient for me, and Allah is able to requite the villain that wrongs me. He says this not in a state of enfeeblement but in situations where he fails to discern the source of his travail, or someone’s omission in doing what is required, especially of those in authority, causes him to suffer hurt or injustice.  To the Hausa man, therefore, Allah ya isa, is a subtle supplication that Allah, who knows what is apparent and what is hidden, is able to protect him from evil, and through His requital, the evildoers shall, sooner or later, get their just deserts! 

They are martyrs, those Muslim faithful who thronged the Kano Central Mosque for Friday prayers only to be murdered. They did no wrong by coming for Jumu’ah. They purified themselves, wore their best raiments and answered the call of Allah’s summoner for the weekly assembly of Friday, not knowing that was the last Jumu’ah they would witness. Allah will not suffer to be wasted the blood of those who died, and the agony of those injured; He shall reckon it to their credit as an act of devotion to Him (at-Taubah, 9:120). Allah ya isa!

In that State House roundtable I wrote on last week, CAN President, Oritsejafor said, as he was wont to do in such forums, that, ’there are still religious clerics that Boko Haram respects’, though he did not mention any. He wanted ‘Muslim leaders to find ways of reaching Boko Haram’ in order to present ‘real Islam to them’ in place of the distorted one that they propagate. Allah ya isa!

The Pastor failed to inform his audience which of the Boko Harams he was referring to: those that infested the government to which he serves as self-appointed spokesperson, or that of Christians caught but never charged or prosecuted with explosive devices in church premises across the country, or that of late Muhammad Yusuf of old, or those provided with heavily armed military detachment and exclusive landing and take-off permission, a privilege denied the state’s Chief Security Officer? Or perhaps the ones caught in Lagos in an abandoned building that strangely belongs to the government of Bayelsa State? Or the ones the actor, Shekau, speaks for and away from whom highly trained soldiers flee despite superior training and weapons only for the weapons to be picked up by the terrorists? Allah ya isa!

Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has conveniently chosen to ignore the brave intervention of various Muslim leaders and Islamic scholars against Boko Haram the result of which most of them paid the supreme price. The recent was that made by the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, on the need for self-defence since the government has woefully failed to secure life and proper of its citizens. Many an analyst have attributed the Kano Central Mosque attack to the call of Muhammadu Sanusi on the people to defy the insurgents. Allah knows best what would have happened were the Emir present in the mosque at the time of the attack. But still, to people like Oritsejafor, even with this, Muslim leaders are not doing enough. Allah ya isa!

The Vice President, Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo led a Federal Government Delegation to condole with the Emir, Government and people of Kano on the loss of more than 100 innocent lives in last Friday’s bomb blasts. Among other things, His Excellency said: 

“We have to understand that this is something that goes beyond politics as I am aware that many people are saying that government is responsible for all what has been happening. Government has no hand in these things. What the government is doing is to protect  lives and property of citizens and promote peaceful coexistence in the nation.

“Talking about security, the nucleus of every nation’s security is in the office of the National Security Adviser, the office is occupied by a Muslim from Sokoto State and a descendant of Shehu Usman Danfodiyo. Second is the Minister of Defence, retired General Aliyu Gusau who a Muslim and from Zamfara State and the Inspector General of Police Sulaiman Abba who is with me here, is also a Muslim and from Jigawa State.

“The vice president is a Muslim from Zaria in Kaduna State. There is no way all of us being Muslims from the North and Nigerians will fold our hands even with the position Allah has given us  and watch bad things happen to the region and Nigeria in general,”

These are very strong assertions from His Excellency, the Vice President. The government, after all is not oblivious of people’s perception on ‘what has been happening.’ Many people marvel at the killing, maiming and destruction of property by an insurgent group that desires to establish Islamic Caliphate, but which spares no effort at targeting Muslims in their houses and mosques.  Muslim scholars and leaders who dared to speak against the group were exterminated in cold blood. Also, not a few people from the region cannot understand why government will deploy a large contingent of our armed  forces to monitor election as witnessed recently in some South East states but stands idly by when thousands are murdered in the North East and territories captured by the insurgents. Quite a number of Muslims see the government as another brand of Boko Haram that is orchestrating these security challenges to economically weaken the region, deplete its demographic capital through bomb blasts, create anarchy that will instil fear in the electorate which disenfranchises people from voting, or give the government reason to prevent election from taking place in the affected areas all together. Allah ya isa!

The people who hold the above beliefs, are not exulting in having ‘the nucleus of’ Nigeria’s security, the VP, NSA, Defence Minister, IGP, etc, in the hands of Muslims from the North, rather, they see it as an indictment. If, according to them, Muslims from the North occupy all these high offices at a time that the region is facing one of its most challenging periods, when an insurgency laid to ruin the lives, dwellings and means of sustenance of myriad of Northerners, without discernible solution, then, of what use are these so called Northerners in the corridors of power to the religion or the region? Allah ya isa!

I believe His Excellency, the Vice President when he said: “There is no way all of us being Muslims from the North and Nigerians will fold our hands even with the position Allah has given us and watch bad things happen to the region and Nigeria in general.” Yes, I believe the VP and his comrades from the region are distressed with the current situation and are doing their best to better our despicable state. But my humble advice is, if entreaties and good counsel fall on deaf ears, resignation will be the best option. Whoever, among the numerous Muslims serving in this government in various positions, will resign because of their disenchantment  ‘for all what has been happening’; they will be received with triumphant, even raucous welcome from people back home. Allah ya isa!

You see, it is not enough that you and the rest say you do not fold your arms and let evil things happen, Mr Vice President, we actually want to know what is happening. We need to know why, for example, our president has NEVER visited any of the North Eastern states that have been under attack since this madness started about three years ago. Do not give us the same lame, unintelligent excuse Abati and Okupe always give, don’t say it is not safe, we know it is not but that is one of the true tests of leadership. Courage is never the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of it knowing that there are more important things than harbouring the notion of fear. Dancing to “Skelewu” in Kano the morning after almost 300 Nigerian girls were kidnapped in the dead of night sounds like the most callous thing I have heard a leader do. What did you tell him about such an insensitive thing to do , sir? I remember as Vice President, you were also part of that awful deed in Kano. Two tragedies of unbelievable proportions happened the day before your dance in Kano. More than 75 lives were wasted and many other people were maimed for life. Don’t tell us you cannot fold your arms and let bad things happen sir, and do not tell us the same puerile story of carrying on with the job of running the country as your reasons for dancing. It had nothing to do with that. In fact, one sometimes wonders whether your government has a mandate to run Nigeria aground before 2015. Allah ya isa!




Friday, November 28, 2014

WRITING BOKO HARAM


                                                                         Pastor Oritsejafor

The office of Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Islamic Affairs, Barrister Tahir Umar Tahir, and that of SSA  to the President on Christian Affairs organised a two-day roundtable meeting for special advisers on religious affairs from 36 states of the Federation and the FTC at the State House, with the theme: Towards Synergising and Interfacing in the Religious Sector for National Development. In his remarks as Father of the Day, His Eminence, the Sultan said, among other things:
“The fact that we are able to sit under one roof to discuss common issue, is a very big blessing from the Almighty. If He had willed otherwise, we would have been on the street slapping and fighting each other. But the fact that we are all here to talk on one particular issue means a very important step towards having peace and stability in our great country."
I cannot but agree with His Eminence on this one. If not for Allah’s intervention, we would have been goaded into war by certain members of both Muslim and Christian communities. Many of the ill feelings people have towards themselves because of religious bigotry stem from the unguarded and irresponsible utterances of certain people in the position to either misguide or guide their flock. One of such leaders is Pastor Oritsejafor of CAN who fancies himself as the mouthpiece cum champion of the Christian faith.
What he has done to alienate Christians to their Muslim brethren will take quite some time to undo. Of all leaders that CAN have elected in decades, he has proven to be the most confrontational and deliberately controversial. He seems to enjoy controversy.
The most recent one was the role he played in the over $9 million so-called arms deal; a deal that looks more like a covered up money laundering attempt the more you look at it. The truth must be said; no one should hide under the “anointing” to do as he pleases hoping no one will talk. This is the fellow who broke the country’s laws to ‘lease’ a private jet to another company which then rents it out to the Nigerian government which then gives a supposedly military contract to civilians to handle. 
Prominent human rights lawyers asked a series of questions on the matter at the time it was a front burner issue. Of course events have since helped push that into obscurity. No one remembers that Pastor Ayo would have probably been explaining to an unbiased security apparatus of government how his ‘private jet’ came into the employ of military contractors if not for the peculiar nature of our country.
The pastor had characteristically remarked that the Muslims have not been doing enough to stop Boko Haram. He has often been quoted as saying the Muslim leaders know the Boko Haram people but are not acting against them. That which he said, and which has been parroted by those who have not done their research and those blinded by bigotry, is mere fiction not supported by fact. 
In the event under discussion, Pastor Oritsejafor was also Father of the Day. His Eminence, the Ameerul Mu’mineen, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar spoke first. “I agree with previous speakers,’ he said, ‘but I’d like to add some few remarks of mine, to substantiate and make what they have said stronger. Because it is when we speak that a lot of people listen. When I speak, most Muslims take that as a serious issue. When CAN President speaks, most Christians take that as a serious issue.

"There are no problems between Islam and Christianity, but if there are problems between Muslims and Christians they should be dealt with at that level. It is important for us to know that all our holy scriptures have portrayed that there are no problems between these great religions. 
“As Muslims we know what the Holy Qur’an says about the people of the Book. And so, I think, the Christians too should know a little bit about Islam and Muslims. That brings us to the issue to educating ourselves about our religions. For all the problems that have been besetting us in this country have been lack of proper knowledge about our religions. Of course, without education concerning religion, there will definitely not be trust and sincerity. 
“Where Muslims leaders make comments condemning the activities of some miscreants, terrorists and insurgents who wear the garb of Islam to commit crimes, and the Muslims in their majority say no, that is not Islam, and condemn that, but still, the same Muslims will be told that ‘you are not doing enough to bring an end to this problem’. I think that is very unfair.” 
There has been so much biased assessment of the efforts of Muslim leaders by those who say they represent the Christians. Incidentally, these people never speak in public when one of the adherents of their own faith commits heinous crimes. They seem to give tacit approval to such crimes. From looting the country to bombing our oil installations to other acts of brigandage, they are usually silent.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am a member of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), which draws its membership from all over Nigeria. I however do not hold brief for His Eminence the Sultan who is more than capable of defending himself from such petty allegations.  What I will not accept is for someone to throw into trashcan the hard work people are doing for political points.
There has been no time the Sultan has not come out to personally condemn what Boko Haram is doing since 2011. The two years before then, he had given instruction to the then Secretary-General NSCIA, late Dr. Adegbite, to issue press statements condemning Boko Haram and their sponsors. He instructed the JNI to similarly issue press statements condemning the madness from Boko Haram. He has been the target of the terrorists on account of that in the past. See, for example, this March 8, 2012 article titled, ‘Boko Haram targets Sultan of Sokoto’ 
For want of space, I cannot reproduce all the references to the Sultan’s interventions but let me quote just a few here. A diligent online search will definitely yield more results for those who want to know.
  1.  27 December 2011  Nigerian Islamic leaders, Sultan of Sokoto, condemn Boko Haram
2. February 6 2012.    ‘We Must End Boko Haram, Says Sultan of Sokoto’

3. May 9, 2013   ‘Sultan-Led Council Begs Boko Haram To Embrace Amnesty’

4. July 27, 2014 “A criminal is a criminal”: Sultan of Sokoto says Boko Haram shouldn’t be associated with Islam’

5. Saturday, 26 July 2014 ‘Sultan of Sokoto To Boko Haram: It's Delusional To Kill & Expect Paradise, Says Boko Haram Now a 'Franchise'’

These are just a few out of about 30 different references I could find in less than a day of casually combing the net for what the Sultan has said in the past on the deluded sect. To say the Sultan has not been talking about Boko Haram is intellectually lazy and outright dishonest.
The second charge is that the Muslim leaders have not been doing enough to stop Boko Haram. We ask the question, ‘What else do you expect from us that we are not doing?’ This is because at least 10 prominent Islamic scholars have been attacked and killed by Boko Haram for condemning their acts and educating their followers against the twisted ideology Shekau and his cohorts are peddling. Yet they have not done enough? Haba Pastor! 
People would be in prayer when Boko Haram would storm in, kill the Imam and storm out of the mosque. His crime was the last sermon he delivered where he urged people to shun Boko Haram. A man would go and report the strange activities of the sect members at a police station and be killed as he arrived his house. People soon learnt to shut their mouth and pray. There is no protection for anybody except the protection of Allah.
The Sultan, earlier this year ordered that all mosques in the country should invoke Allah’s wrath in each of the five daily prayers on Boko Haram, their sponsors and sympathisers. Many mosques are still complying until date. There are also the sensitization workshops, the denouncements in mosques where their Imam is still brave enough to condemn the group publicly.
His Eminence continued, “We have to tell ourselves the truth, because one of the greatest problems of this country is that we don’t tell ourselves the home truth. And we all know that in our religions we have been ordered to speak the truth even if it be against us, against our parents and near kindred. Therefore, if followers don’t tell leaders the truth, then we have a serious problem, because the leaders will assume that what they are doing is right.
“At our level of being the leaders of Islam in this country, we have tried so much. I want to underline the word ‘so much’; across this globe. There is nowhere I have not been to, to speak about peace and Islam.” 
Speaking of not doing enough, I advise the CAN leaders to throw that charge in the direction where it belongs - with the leadership of this country and its security operatives. No country that budgets in excess of a trillion naira on security should be said to have a poorly equipped army or air force.  The victories recorded by common hunters and civilians with crude weapons over Boko Haram have exposed the futility of the “we are poorly equipped” excuse that had become a chorus song with the military.
Trained officers and men of the Nigerian Army now desert military formations and poorly trained terrorists take over, only to show in the terrorists’ videos that the barracks actually had weapons but did not use them! Whole towns have been lost the same way! This is an area where the government is not doing enough and they should neither shift the responsibility to us nor use clerics that are close to them to do that dirty job.
Having said this, His Eminence must step up his game and inaugurate more committees of scholars to de-radicalize the gullible and hungry who seem to find solace in the unIslamic ideology of Boko Haram. 
The government should do more to protect those brave enough to defy the murderers. Sometime ago, some civilians helped the army to identify and arrest the members of the unIslamic sect. They were later murdered in large numbers. The feeling in those parts is that the government cannot or will not protect them.
The government should do more to restore hope and trust. As things stand now, many believe that the government itself is the main benefactor of Boko Haram and is in no hurry to see the insurgency end. They point to the allegations against people who were and remain very close to the president of being sponsors of Boko Haram. One of the individuals mentioned continues to enjoy an inexplicably heavy security protection that even the sitting governor of the state is denied.
Pastor Oritsejafor at the roundtable urged the Sultan to write Boko Haram the way he and other world Muslim leaders wrote ISIS lately. It would have been laughed off as another joke but for the person making that remark. He has serially insinuated that the Sultan knows Boko Haram in the past. It was not funny. Incidentally, this was the only thing the mainstream media reported from the meeting. They somehow managed to exclude the words of His Eminence, part of which I have quoted above.

Friday, November 21, 2014

SELF-DEFENCE





For people like me who grew up in places like Kaduna any news about fleeing Nigerian soldiers will be totally inconceivable. The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), before its relocation to the new site around Kaduna airport, was a stone’s throw from my family home in Unguwar Shanu where I spent the greater part of my youth. From our houses we could overhear voices of the cadets chanting military songs whenever they were out for fitness activities or other trainings. The zeal to join the NDA is in every young man, but that desire was stronger in youth from areas like Unguwar Shanu, Abakwa,  Kawo, Unguwar  Kanawa and Unguwar Sarki, because they see and admire the cadets as they move proudly in these places or during their parades. The only demarcation between us and the NDA was a deep ravine after which lay farmlands, a burial ground and a vast field for sporting activities for the military. During the annual NDA passing out ceremonies, we formed the majority of spectators due to our proximity to the Academy.

Thus we saw in these young officers of NDA self-confidence, security and great aplomb. Many youth from Kawo, Unguwar Shanu and Abakwa axis, like numberless others from every part of this country that share neighbourhood with the military, joined the Academy and are now officers in various military formations in Nigeria.

The people of Kaduna State, and myriad other Nigerians who live in crisis prone areas, be it religious, ethnic or political, have witnessed the other side of the military, which is brutality, fiendishness and extra-judicial killings. During the Kafanchan, Zagon Kataf and Shariah crises, to mention a few, we witnessed horrors of the gun in the hands of people deployed to bring the crisis under control, but who ended up shooting at sight every object, man or beast, indiscriminately. In such situations innocent people were killed by soldiers because they did not leave their shops before the sudden appearance of the armed men in uniform, or because  they dared to pray in the mosque in front of their houses. 

With this mixed feeling of both admiration and awe in our minds, we never thought that there would come a time when a dusty and dishevelled band like Boko Haram will make our armed forces turn their backs and flee. Are we living witnesses to reality or this is an orchestrated political design to achieve a contrived plan against certain parts of this country? If this is the reality on ground why is it possible for local hunters and vigilantes to succeed where our armed forces woefully failed? Could it be, as some have alluded, that this was a case of collusion? Did someone sell out for a pittance? Or are we churning out misfits from the NDA and the Army Depot? I think not. The military is now coopted into the local hunters league in the fight against Boko Haram. What a shame!

Wherever Boko Haram army approaches people disperse. They scatter in all directions. This hurried, improvised dispersal only reminds one of the Day of Judgement when ‘a man shall flee from his own brother, and from his mother and his father, and from his wife and his children. Each one of them, that Day, will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to the others.’ (Qu’raan 80, Abasa, 34-37)

We have heard tales of those lost in the bush, not knowing where exactly they were even though they had their mobile phone with them; communication eventually ceased as the battery of these devices ran out, and the people died of hunger, thirst and exhaustion. Wives had no contact with their husbands, children lost any trace of their parents; many only saw each other again at the refugee camps, or in the house of relatives in other cities or towns. Another case of internally displaced people!

The military is said to be among the fleeing flood of the frightened. Nothing remains but the aged and the sick who could not runaway. Boko Haram usually declares the ‘conquered’ town or city as part of the Islamic Khilaafah ,  christens it with a new appellation, (like Madinatul Islam), occupies the deserted dwellings of the people and shares of spoils unopposed.

                                                                     Emir Muhammad Sanusi II


Recently the emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has called on the people to defend themselves against Boko Haram, and not to rely on any succour from the military who are sure to desert them and runway at the hour of need. The emir made the call during a weekly prayer session at the City Central Mosque, Kano. I listened to the recorded version of the speech which the emir presented in the Hausa language after an introduction in his well-articulated Arabic, and supporting each point with a succession of quotations from the Glorious Qur’an. 

My only concern was that His Royal Highness was carried away by the fact that majority of his immediate addressees in that mosque were Huffaaz (those who committed the entire Qur’an to memory), he did not translate any of the verses he copiously quoted. He took it for granted, I assume, that they know the meaning of the verses. He is, by the way, the only Emir I know in recent history that leads his subjects in the Jumu’ah prayers as should be.

Translating the verses would be better for two reasons - 1) in that mosque, there could possibly be people who are not as versed as the Huffaaz who formed the bulk of the audience, and, let us face it, not all Huffaaz know the meaning of what they have memorised of the Qur’an; 2) the emir’s message is now all over the world, because of its timeliness and relevance in the current situation of our country, in both print and electronic media, but not one of them, in either Nigeria or elsewhere, mentioned any of the supporting verses quoted in that speech. His Royal Highness will do well to translate whatever he quotes in Arabic in his future assemblies for the benefit of those who do not speak the language.

On fearlessness and gallantry, the emir urged imams, in their sermons and khutbah, to goad people to exhibit greatheartedness in answering the summon of the Qur’an at the period of confronting the enemy. He said, in such encounters, we shall suffer hurt, but we should remember that the enemy is not immune from hurt; that we should not be weakened by the exploits and apparent successes of the enemy in some cities. They will be short-lived according to the emir, because these verses have explained that - So lose not heart, nor fall into despair: For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in Faith. If a wound hath touched you, be sure a similar wound hath touched the others. Such days [of varying fortunes] We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks Martyr-witnesses [to Truth]. And Allah loveth not those that do wrong. (Aali ‘Imraan, 3:139 - 140) 

Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II stressed the need of conveying the message to the people in plain language during the Friday Sermon by imams. He said even in mosques where the Khutbah is not rendered in the Hausa language, the imam should mount the Minbar and deliver the message in Hausa so that the people will understand and prepare their response in confronting the enemy, in compliance with the Qur’anic directive - Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into [the hearts of] the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. (Anfaal, 8:60)

The era of fear and desertion is over, the emir emphasised. He said the local hunters should see their skills as a gift from their Lord, and using that skill in repelling any aggression against the people shall be amply recompensed by their Maker. 

Boko Haram has taught us that fear of the gun is in our DNA, military or common civilian. People now know that security agencies and even the armed forces are not invincible and should not be so feared as to stop speaking out in the face of oppression. The fear of the uniform is fast diminishing as people are emboldened by what they see on YouTube of the sameness of both the Nigerian military and the hapless civilians fleeing from the insurgents, and the fact that local hunters could reclaim territories conquered by Boko Haram.

The inhabitants of Azare showed their mettle sometime ago when Boko Haram came calling. They bare had any weapon to speak of, but they repelled the murderers. The people of Ngala-Gumboru did the same and lately the brave hunters.

No matter how many official explanations we may get, it does not explain how a few poorly trained and poorly equipped rag tag of insurgents could route a bigger and better equipped army. We had been told that the army was less equipped than Boko Haram but the videos online show a different picture. 

Boko Haram was fighting in one video with about four machine gun-mounted trucks and two anti-aircraft guns. No armoured tanks, no serious artillery, just a few RPGs. They were attacking Giwa Barracks and in the video we could see that they took over the place and there was an armoured tank in the barracks. Almost all weapons recaptured by the hunters and vigilantes from Boko Haram belong to the Army. They left them behind at some point and fled. It is so sad!

Ambrose Redmoon said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” I want you and I to apply this in fighting this scourge that knows neither Muslim nor Christian. May Allah grant us the courage to do what is right and the strength to resist what is wrong.








Friday, August 22, 2014

HAJJ AND EBOLA



The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMH) organised a one-day sensitisation workshop on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and Hajj 2014 operations. The workshop, which brought Hajj stakeholders from all over the country, was held on Thursday, 14th August 2014, in the Tafawa Balewa Hall of Nicon Luxury Hotel, Area 11, Abuja.

Dignitaries at the event included NAHCON Chairman/CEO, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, the Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, and Sheikh Ibrahim Al Qayidy, the Head of Consular Section, Saudi Arabian Embassy, Abuja. Others were Catherine Avery, Deputy Director, US, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Mary Stephen, Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and Dr Ibrahim Abubakar Kana, Head of NAHCON Medical Committee.

In his welcome address, NAHCON Chairman/CEO, expressed delight at the large turnout of participants to this important workshop, hoping that ‘at the end of the day’ everybody present will be well informed to play their role effectively and ‘appropriately’ in our collective struggle against EVD.

Dr Ibrahim Abubakar Kana, Head of NAHCON Medical Committee presented a paper on Screening Modalities for Nigerian Pilgrims, where he informed the gathering on government’s efforts in controlling and preventing the spread of EVD in Nigerian. This could not have come at a better time when over 70,000 pilgrims are soon to commence their journey to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj.

He stressed the need for getting information on what Hajj stakeholders must do, and how pilgrims should conduct themselves during their stay in, and at the time of their return from Saudi Arabia. NAHCON, according to him, ‘is working hard, the Nigerian government is working hard’ to ensure, through the protocol laid down by WHO, that no pilgrim takes EVD to Saudi Arabia. There shall be screening of all pilgrims throughout the federation before they embark on the Hajj journey, he said; ‘NAHCON will prevent from travelling, any pilgrim suspected of carrying the disease, even at the point of departure. We are all here, the air carriers, the tour operators, and we are all working together to ensure that no single pilgrim is infected in Nigeria, and if he is, he is not taking the virus out of this country.’

Mary Stephen, Representative of WHO, said such workshop would help in curtailing the spread of EVD in Nigeria, especially among the intending pilgrims. ‘We wish to commend the efforts of Federal Ministry of Health and the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria for organising this important workshop;’ she said, ‘as we all know, the WHO is currently supporting the Nigerian government in its effort to contain the Ebola outbreak. I, therefore, wish all of you fruitful deliberations, and a successful Hajj 2014.’

Catherine Avery, Deputy Director, United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expressed appreciation to the organisers for giving her the opportunity to participate in the workshop. She joined other speakers before her in commending the efforts of FMoH and NAHCON in the control of the outbreak of EVD. ‘The United States, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’ she said, ‘fully aligns itself with the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health in controlling the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Nigeria, and is committed to seeing it through. Since the report of the first confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria, CDC has deployed its human and material resources to the Federal Ministry of Health in controlling the situation. Several of our experienced in-country staff as well as staff deployed from our Atlanta office are in Lagos to provide assistance for surveillance, contact tracing, entry and exit screening, infection control and communications. They are working closely with the Federal Ministry of Health and other stakeholders in developing guidelines from laboratory diagnosis to screening inbound and outbound passengers at ports of entry and exit. … CDC is always committed to saving lives and protecting people. It will continue to support Nigeria in the control of EVD, and other disease twenty hours a day, seven days a week. I am quite impressed by the number of pilgrims from Nigeria. If the information provided here today is adhered to Ebola will not be a problem to any of Nigeria’s pilgrims.’

Catherine Avery, Deputy Director, US, CDC,Sheikh Ibrahim Al Qayidy, the  Consul, Saudi Embassy, Abuja, NAHCON Chairman/CEO, Mal Muhammad Musa Bello, Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan





Catherine’s statement above looks and sounds impressive but in practice, what the CDC has done for Nigeria is scarcely anything Nigerians could not have done for themselves. Where we really need their help is in getting the experimental ZMAPP serum which, despite the fact that it was an American citizen that infected Nigeria, they have refused to give Nigeria. This makes nonsense of the claim that the CDC is committed to saving lives and protecting people. It looks more like saving their pockets to me. But that is for another time.

Sheikh Ibrahim Al Qayidy, the Head of Consular Section, Saudi Arabian Embassy, was glad that NAHCON brought about this workshop at a time when Nigerian pilgrims are preparing for the holy trip of Hajj into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He commended FMoH and NAHCON for sensitising the stakeholders on EVD in relation to Hajj 2014 operations.

The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, said , on a lighter mood, that he would not say anything until he made sure that people from his constituency of Sokoto State were represented at the event. When the Minister confirmed that Sokoto State was indeed represented, as many participants indicated by either standing up or raising their hands, he commenced his extempore speech by congratulating ‘NAHCON for accepting our proposal to invite this distinguished gathering to discuss the current situation.’ In his view, 'even though Ebola is on our minds,’ there are other diseases that should concern us due to the kind of journey that we are speaking about, namely Hajj.

He said respiratory infections, cholera, etc. should also engage our concern. He called on the gathering to remember that Ebola was alien to us because the disease came into the country ‘by accident through a Liberian’. This man, in the Minister’s view, should not have been allowed to leave his country, in the first place, or allowed in Nigeria. He said as at the time of his address, Ebola was confined to Lagos state, kept in check due to collaborative efforts with bodies like WHO, US - CDC and others. ‘As of today,’ he said, ‘there are eleven confirmed cases in Nigeria, out of which 3 had died – the index case, that is the person who brought the disease, plus two health workers, who were dealing with the patient. So presently, the eight remaining are receiving treatment, and they are making good progress. Alhamdulillah, we have been able to do a lot of contact tracing to ensure that any person who came into contact with Patrick Sawyer has been traced.


‘Those who have shown sign of infection are being quarantined. Those who had primary contact we kept them under observation. Today is the 24th day since Patrick came into Nigeria, going by the medical history of the disease, it has incubation period of 2 to 21 days, so, all primary contacts of Mr Sawyer should be in the clear, except those who have contracted the disease. Alhamdulillah, the collaborative effort is yielding progress. 65 out of 177 under clinical review were withdrawn, so we are doing well. We should continue to do more. Presently, Ebola is more of a problem to health workers than the general public because an Ebola patient is more dangerous when he has high fever, he can be infectious, and most of the time they are not mobile, they are at home or in the hospital. Sadly, it is no more business as usual for our health workers to see patients. I know the experts will educate you on this more. I appeal to you to remain calm, there is no panic, because with simple personal hygiene, good hand washing, which Muslims do five times a day, we should do, we should use soap as this is enough to control 80 per cent of cross infection.’