Pastor Joseph Maren Sampson
Director, Reconciliation Trainers Africa (RETA)
#41 Sarkin Warram Street Bukuru, Plateau Nigeria.
The Jos crisis and its dimension have punctured the legal fiction often referred to as ‘One North’ in Nigeria. The idea that the North is one big united and indivisible family with a common identity, shared beliefs and single collective future is not only patently fallacious but is based on a dangerous hypocrisy and make-believe by only a few who are the benefactors of this myth. The one big family (the North) if it ever existed at all, is now a divided house; a broken calabash that cannot be repaired. It is a delusion that would not go away because it suits the interests of both the Muslim North and their deluded counterparts in the Middle Belt who are obsessed with enhancing their bargaining clout within Nigeria’s competitive ethno-regionalism. In reality, it is a dude cheque in political terms; a marriage of convenience that died a long time ago, even though the couple are still going through the motions and self belief that their marriage is still holding. It is crucially important that we come to terms with the honest truth; recognizing our differences and learning how we might live side-by-side in mutual respect and tolerance. The Muslim North has a heritage rooted in the traditions of Jihad and the Caliphate. The Christian Middle Belt has an identity anchored on Christianity and resistance. The peoples of the Middle Belt are what they are today because they were never conquered by Jihad and never subscribed to enslavement by the Caliphate and its feudal powers. The fact that we all speak the Hausa language is neither here nor there. According to the Muslim narrative, Northerners are the heirs to an illustrious heritage rooted in Jihad and the Caliphate. They belong to a global Muslim Ummah in which the Nigerian branch is one of the largest on the African continent. They have had a tradition of learning and rulership that is probably unequalled in the annals of the Western Sudan. The British colonialists subjugated the North in a manner that benefitted Christians and Western imperialist interests, blocking the southward march of Islam. In the light of the global Islamic resurgence, the traditions of Jihad have to be reinvented to meet the needs of the twenty-first century. Western secularism and materialism have shown themselves to be highly discredited. Muslims have had to be vigilant in defending their honour and their values from assault by Western imperialism as represented by the twin evils of Zionism and American neoconservative reaction. Muslims must assert their identity wherever they are. Believing themselves to constitute an overall numerical majority in Nigeria, they do not see why they should not have a free hand to remake the country in their own image after their own thoughts, ideology and way of life. Muslims in Nigeria have always use political power as the trump card that they have to sustain them in political leadership and once in power, they must use that opportunity to defend the Northern Islamic interest, however defined. They see nothing amiss in dominating all strategic government positions from local, state and national levels. Equal status is not accorded Christians with their Muslim counterpart in far Northern States. Churches are barely tolerated and are seen as a menace. Christian preaching is seen as a source of irritation or provocation. The Shari’a law is embraced by the Northern States as a counter to the growing missionary activity of the Church. The Almajiri system is nurtured as a potential army to be deployed when Christians need to be ‘taught a lesson’. And when the ‘lesson’ is being taught, the victim is expected to ‘turn the other cheek’ according to what their holy Book supposedly teaches. And if they choose to retaliate, it is ‘genocide’. In the Middle Belt,...