For quite sometime now, Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi bestrides our geographical space like a colossus, so much so, that some journalists who camp around his house hardly fall in the arms of Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep, in readiness for his emergence from his house to start dishing out his daily dose of security briefing. He is the self-appointed (Or, is there a synergy between him and Aso Rock?) spokesman of both the Fulani herdsmen and the bandits. And each time he opens his mouth, Nigerians and the international community are often stunned by the confidence with which he delivers his message—He is the National Security Adviser, the Director-General of DSS, and Presidential Spokesman, all rolled into one.
Granted, Gumi is not an unknown quantity in Nigeria, especially in the predominantly Muslim North. As Imam and Islamic scholar, with a fairly large following, he is indeed a prominent figure whose views are respected.
However, in recent months, he has assumed a new role, The Security Czar. Whenever kidnappers strike and retreat to their abode in the forest, he is always on hand to negotiate with them, often accompanied by our security forces. At first sight, he seems to be doing a yeoman’s job of saving lives. But, viewing it broadly, coupled with the frequency of abductions, one is bound to ask if a diabolical conspiracy is not at play here. According to my people, if there are too many stones in the soup, the blind will start seeing them.
It is a well known fact that each time he negotiates with the terrorists over the release of abductees, millions of naira, and in some cases, millions of US dollars, are paid.
The ease with which the terrorists and their sponsors now smile to the bank is, to put it mildly, disturbing.
And when anyone dares question Gumi about his newfound passion in defending the interests of bandits (terrorists), he lashes out by calling that person “unpatriotic”. On the patriotic scale, Gumi sees himself as the yardstick of measurement.
I have a sneaky suspicion that his self-confidence stems from ‘above’.
That said, the enigmatic Gumi, not satisfied with his role as the Chief Negotiator between the government and the terrorists on abduction and amnesty matters, wants a ministry set up for them—Federal Ministry Of Fulani Herdsmen. According to him, the Fulani herdsmen would use the ministry to channel their grievances to the government. Oh dear!
He calls himself a patriot, but he refuses to see the open ethnocentrism in his demand. Is there any Federal Ministry that was created to cater for the needs of a particular ethnic group or tribe in Nigeria? Did it not occur to him that it is not the responsibility of the Federal Government to take care of private businesses?
The statement that the Federal Government has neglected the welfare of the Fulani herdsmen for so long, often repeated by some Northern elements, is borne out of sheer myopism. Cattle rearing is a private business venture. Those cows belong to individuals who should pull their resources together, buy land and set up ranches, period.
Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say that Gumi gets his proposed ministry created. What would then happen if someone else goes on television in the near future and proposes the creation of the Federal Ministry Of Yam Producers? Will the Federal Government acquiesce to such a proposal?
I strongly suspect that our great Islamic scholar, Gumi, is suffering from intellectual obesity, which might have resulted in his clownish outbursts of late.
Well, barba non facit philosophum.Translation: having a beard does not make one a philosopher. Or, does it?
David Abu writes from The Netherlands.