No man is an island, goes the saying. The knowledge and experience of a single man isn’t enough to help him move on to ensure progress in what ever he chooses to do. The different groups that make up Nigeria, whether religious or ethnic are units that must reason with the others if progress must be achieved in Nigeria.
The Peace, Justice and Reconciliation Movement (JPRM) is a non-governmental organization based in Jos Plateau State. Together with the Christian Council of Nigeria, it organized a peace submits titled “Come let us Reason together.” The submit was hosted at the Jossy Royal Hotel Jos and was attended by the renowned Dan Masanin Kano, Alhaji Maitama Sule who gave a speech. There was also a message from former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon. Also in attendance were the Plateau State Governor, Jonah David Jang and his Kano State counterpart, Ibrahim Shekarau who was the major attraction of the submit for the paper he delivered title, “reasoning together in Nigeria in the twenty first century.”
Istifanus Habila heads the JPRM. He said that the summit is an annual event that has been held for the past five years. He says the choice of Ibrahim Shekarau to deliver the paper is a result of the fact that the Kano Governor has become noted for talking about the need for peace across the country and that explains why he was invited to deliver the paper. See the full paper:
A Paper presented by His Excellency, The Governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau at a National Inter-Faith Conference Organized by Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Movement (JPRM) in Collaboration with Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) at Jossy Royal Hotel, Bukuru Road, Jos, Plateau State
Jimada Thaani 15, 1430
June 8, 2009
All praise and gratitude are due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. May the blessings of Allah be upon our exalted Prophet, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, his companions, the members of his family and all those who tread their path till the Day of Judgment.
Allah (SWT) says, in the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 45, verse 13, and I quote,
And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is
in the heaven and on earth. Behold, in that are signs
indeed for those who reason.
In Chapter 16, verse 69, He also says, and I quote again,
Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth) and follow the ways of the Lord made smooth. There ensues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours wherein is healing for men. Verily in this is a sign for those who give in to reason.
Similarly, in Genesis 18, verses 25 to 26, the Holy Bible says, and I quote,
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the
righteous with the wicked; and that the righteous should
be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge
of all the earth do right?
And the Lord said, if I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
In Isaiah 1, verse 18, the Holy Bible again says,
Come now, and let us reason together, said the Lord: though
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow though
they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
The choice of title for today’s paper, ladies and gentlemen, could not have been more appropriate if we look at the mixture of people that constitute the audience in this hall. The timing too is not only apt but of extreme importance and relevance to our present circumstances as a Nation of diverse religious beliefs; and one going through difficult and trying moments.
I have taken latitude without the permission of the organizers to slightly vary the theme to read: Reasoning Together in Nigeria, as We Journey into the 21t Century, hoping that the slight variation will prove beneficial. I remember, I gave a talk on this premise at a lecture organized by the Bridge Builders Association of Nigeria sometime in 2005 in Kano. I therefore hope that Mr. Chairman would allow me to echo that paper as I find its content still relevant to our socio-religious set up.
Before I venture into it Mr. Chairman, permit me to commend the organizers of this Forum for their good judgment of selecting General Yakubu Gowon to give the key note address. A gallant and accomplished soldier, a renowned disciplinarian, an honest leader: I had good reason, back in December 2004, when, in a paper I presented at a Northern Peace Conference. I extolled the virtues of this former Nigerian Head of State, when I said, and I quote,
By placing the example of General Yakubu Gowon last,
I am by no means underestimating the contributions of this
priestly General. He was (and still is) judged to have refused
the temptation of amassing wealth for himself and his family at
the expense of the Nigerians he led during the period of oil boom.
The keynote address, as presented by Reverend Victor Musa, the General’s able representative, is food for thought for all those who care to listen, assimilate and act wisely. The import of the Chairman’s address is very clear, and the message quite unambiguous. God, we learnt, exercised His discretion, with a reason, to create us Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and many more belonging to other beliefs, and many others not believing in anything at all. He puts us all together under one universe, under one watch with endless difference in likes and dislikes. In these are lessons for those who reason before acting or refusing to act. His Excellency, General Dr. Yakubu Gowon (GCFR) is very well known for his fatherly advise and rich exhortations at all times because of his additional advantage as a political philosopher, a peace envoy, a clergy of refute, a social diplomat and most importantly as someone who is cautious of what he says, what he eats, what he hears and what he gets involved in.
The welcome address by the President of the Christian Council of Nigeria, His Grace, and Most Rev. Dr. Rogers Uwadi is both a testimony and further assurance that men and women of God still hold the joker to posture peace, with lots of attendant benefits. Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate the maturity and courage contained in the welcome address.
Flowing from written and oral records, I did not expect anything less from our revered Danmasanin Kano, an elder statesman and manager of human affairs who is always willing to belong to environments where peace, harmony and progress are the subject matters. He is always handy and ready to share his vast knowledge, expertise and wisdom when it matters most. That is why his name is always associated with activities that seek to salvage man from his own antics, his shortcomings and his many inadequacies. I pray that God the Almighty will continue to bless the Danmasani with good health, peace of mind and serenity at all times.
Special thanks must therefore go to these our respected elder statesmen for setting the tune and tone of today’s conference, whose outcome I believe will be of immense benefit to peace building, cohesion, mutual understanding and respect for humanity.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, you may have noticed that I started my talk with quotations from the Qur’an and the Bible. Indeed, my prompt willingness and acceptance to speak to you this morning on the chosen theme are rooted in, predicated on and based upon both imports and exports of these quotations. In these quotations lies an express and implied meaning, narrow and wide implications of reasoning. And on deeper reflections, one can also find treasures of assurances and guarantee for peace and tranquility of the body, mind, heart, soul, psyche and conscience.
We must all agree without doubt or hesitation, that both locally and globally, these are not normal times. They are times of extreme exasperation, fears, anxiety and stress for majority of human beings, with multiplier effects and accompanying multiple challenges. These are times when sentiments, deliberate distortions and wishful thinking have substituted reasoning and wisdom, not out of ignorance but all owing to greed, selfishness and myopic view of the world around us, rooted in materialistic expressions and attachments. These are times when reasoning is being consciously, willingly and deliberately wished away, with utter disregard of the wider negative implications of doing so. These are times when assumptions, presumptions, prejudices and distant judgments of individuals, institutions and programmes are viewed, assessed, evaluated and measured using certain parameters and yardsticks alien, new and unknown to the institution and philosophy behind reasoning.
These are times when inordinate ambition for primitive accumulation of wealth and unschooled greed has refused to bow and submit to the in-built benefits of reasoning. These are times when reasoning must be the guiding light and principle in interacting with people as individuals and as a group; in managing them and their resources; in formulating policies and executing programs targeted deliberately to empower them, so that there will be peace, progress, growth, development, cohesion, spirit of brotherhood, tranquility and harmony.
Reasoning must be the linchpin in reacting to issues, events and circumstances, such that wherever and whenever I refer to reasoning, I am indeed referring to that reasoning which conforms and is consistent with divine revelation, which, in turn, is the only authoritative and reliable source and guide towards ethical morality, decency, common sense etc. Only divine revelation can distinguish between what is Godly and that which is satanic, just as it is only by adhering to God’s revelations that men and women of all extractions can grow and develop to greater heights. Only a marriage to revelation can guarantee salvation here, and hereafter, as we are all aspiring for salvation through various mediums.
The virtue of reasoning together began long before any of us was formed to be a living being. Reasoning has also proved to be most effective even in the days and lives of our Scripture patriarchs, rulers and judges of history. Looking through history, there is hardly any invention that has taken place without the inventor drawing from the mind, opinions and thoughts of other persons.
Reasoning within the contents and context of revelation ought to and must be the flavour and recipe for all of our daily lives and living if we are sincerely, genuinely and honestly committed to building a peaceful society, based on realities on the ground as determined by human and material resources within the permission of the environmental conditions, predicated on equity, justice and fairness whereby all and sundry, will be free and secured at all times and in all moments, as we pursue our legitimate chosen endeavours without fear of the unknown.
Some of us may wonder if my concept of reasoning is not aimed at precluding the works of outstanding philosophers and thinkers of old, who based substantial part of their writings on reasoning. I must say that the philosophical works of that group that I came across proved to be a treasure of ancient antiquity and immense validity, particularly for their own time and partly for other times, not minding the fact that most of their works were based on reasoning tainted with elements of knowledge and coated with foam of individual world view informed by the writer’s peculiar circumstances.
But I do not put them aside altogether, as in my life, I read quite a number of philosophical works based on reasoning which greatly helped in further shaping my person, in addition to moulding me and preparing me the more, enough to participate in building social bridges as I journey to the world beyond.
One can very quickly remember the works of Thomas P. (177 – 1809) whose philosophical works such as the Age of Reason, the Rights of Man, Common Sense, Agrarian Justice, etc. were all based on reasoning, just like the anxiety aroused by the great juristic works of Lord Dening, purely based on reason and logic. In the same class with Thomas Payne and Lord Dening, are the great works of Aristotle which are still referred to by many today.
Saint A. Magnus’s (C. 120 – 1280) philosophical works were based on reason tainted with revelation and ethical morality as can be deduced from his main works such as Deliverance from Error, Confessions of St. Augustine, The City of God, etc. Perhaps it is so because after his conversion to Christianity he rose to the rank of a Bishop and holder of Dominican Chairs of Theology, just as he was also popularly referred to as the Universal Doctor.
The biblical accounts of Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary (PBUH) and his entire ministry were purely based on ministering with reason within the wall of revelation which must have greatly influenced the renowned Tele-evangelist, the Charismatic Reverend Jimmy S. who wrote and based many of his writings on reasoning accompanied and consistent with revelation. His works such as Alcoholism, Incest, Sodomy, Racism, etc. have become instruments that shaped the opinions and transformed the lives of many readers.
Arab philosophers such as Al-Kindi (C. 801-870), one of the first translators of Aristotle’s works in Arabic, and Al-Ghazali (1058-1111) popularly called Abu-Hamid Muhammad Ibn Muhammad also belonged to the class of those whose great philosophical works were also based on reasoning rooted in revelation.
It is only in general reasoning that the human mind can be made to submit to truth, see and avoid mistakes and pitfalls of life. A mind subjected to reasoning can suppress lust, avoid greed, and respect the feelings and rights of others. Only reason makes reasonable minds to remain within the limit set by God Almighty Himself: limits which are targeted to protect lives, properties, honour, prestige, progeny and mental state of men and women. Taken further, a man without reason is little different from an animal.
Through popular opinion arrived at reasoning together, leaders at all levels will find the wisdom to empower the led so that they can become proud and willing members of the society who can surrender and sacrifice whatever they have for that society. Love can thrive and spread like wildfire. A leader will be empowered to place the needs of the people he is leading first before his own and that of his relations. Such group effort translates to mutual love and respect which enable all citizens to guard the ideals of our nationhood.
Only reasoning predicated on revelation allows people to react to, or comment on issues purely on tangible, reliable, sufficient, relevant and dependable information. Of course, such type of reason allows people to put all their trust in God Almighty, recognizing that He alone ultimately determines everything here and hereafter.
I am certain that the type of reasoning you had in mind as you framed the theme for this Lecture Forum, is the same or similar to the few virtues I have just expounded. I believe so, particularly having heard your aims and objectives as a faith based non-governmental organization. I assure you that as long as you remain within your objectives for that long you will not derail. May you not derail.
Nobody needs to be reminded that there exists a pyramid, ocean, or desert of ‘unreasonability’ in reason that is not rooted in or driven from revelation. This error in reasoning comes from unilateral, fanatical and arrogant disposition. It is such type of reason that makes people to willingly elect to ignore the laws of the Almighty, thereby going ahead to commit suicide, set one’s properties on fire, expose oneself to the dangers of alcoholism, gambling, fornication, adultery, incest, false and broken promises and other forms of immoralities and absurdities.
It is the same negative platform found in people who assume a kind of sole ownership of collective resources with a propensity and passion as if there was no yesterday behind us or there will be no tomorrow ahead, or indeed there will be no judgment day. It is the manifestation of bad and unpopular reasoning that prepares human being to seek to promote falsehood, raise objections and exasperation mostly on non-issues and settled issues at times when all hands are supposed to be on deck on a journey towards building and nurturing a God-fearing, solid and virile society.
Mr. Chairman, I have digressed so elaborately on my thoughts at the risk of boring you, just to underscore my interest in the phrase, ‘Reasoning together’. I go further to assure you and all members of the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Movement and the Christian Council of Nigeria, the conveners of today’s lecture that my Administration in Kano State aspires to deploy reason, rooted in ethical morality and guided by revelation in dealing with all people of all standing. I have long come to appreciate that building bridges against our differences is the only way to our cherished justice, equity and unity. This is to me good morality.
As we remind ourselves and resolve to submit to the institution of guided reasoning, through the light of revelation, we must all be honest to accept that there must be among ourselves those who, out of reason elect to keep late hours and at other times have sleepless nights so that others can sleep with all their eyes closed. There must be those who will deliberately expose themselves to the chilly cold of harmattan so that many others will remain warm, just as they must expose themselves to the scorching heat of the sun for others to feel cool. There must be those who, in spite of their advantageous position and social status will, out of reason, avoid visiting the sin of the fathers upon the children, that of the children upon their parents, that of a creed upon its followers, or that of a culture upon its claimants.
There must be among us those who will extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood at all times and moments. There has to be among us those who out of reason will reconcile warring factions and those at loggerheads. And I must add that we must all resolve to continue being reconciliators. It is only by so doing that the peace we have garnered can stand the test of time.
In closing, let me remind us that on that day when we are finally before the Throne of our Creator, there will be no credentials or item of appeal other than our righteousness, tabled for scrutiny. We will be held accountable and responsible as leaders and subjects, as rich and poor persons; for what we did and what we failed to do; as Muslims and as Christians; as property owners and as property caretakers; for everything and anything. Let us Reason Together to correct our ways and have good credentials.
I thank you for the invitation, and I, once again commend the courage and initiatives of the conveners. I appreciate the composure of all those who are present. But most importantly, we must all jointly thank the Almighty God for giving us the courage, will-power, audacity and foresight to think about Reasoning Together as the only way to rescue ourselves from our current social predicament.
Thank you for listening and God bless.