I am reluctant to write this piece and it has nothing to do with my disposition to the issue at hand.
My reluctance is borne out of the fact that it is insane to keep hoping for sanity in an insane contraption like Nigeria.
Insanity produces after its very kind. A mango tree will not produce an apple. So, why do we continue in the name of social, political and economic activism demand justice from an inherently unjust system, build on the faulty foundation of a nation negotiated for the unilateral interests of those, who negotiated the same at the 1960 independence arrangement.
In my work with the precious Nigerian children, which has spanned over a period of over 2 decades, I have come to the irresistible conclusion that the well-being and happiness of the Nigerian child is only possible in a reordered Nigerian society and not the present one.
This present Nigerian state does not have what it takes in form and character to Secure A Friendly and Protective Environment for our precious children. Look around you. You do not need an in-depth study of the situation or a special gift in clairvoyancing to know that we live a country, which is irredeemably deficient in it’s capacity to show respect for the dignity of human person, not to talk of defenceless children.
So, when this unjust system claims that it has a judicial system, by whatever name it is called, Sharia or otherwise, which role is to prepare and evenly distribute the venison of justice, producing the sweet-smelling savour of the equality of all before the law, we owe ourselves an eternal duty to refuse to be hoodwinked.
It is in the light of the foregoing that I have been poring over the case of Omar Farouq, 13, convicted and sentenced to 10 year imprisonment for blasphemy with hard labour on August 10, 2020 by Aliyu Kanu of Sharia Court in Kano
I have read and commenced the response of UNICEF as enunciated by Peter Hawkins, insisting on the illegality of the so-called conviction, stating that it ‘negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria – and by implication, Kano state – has signed on to.’
At the beginning of this year the same would have also been my argument. I would have argued purely on the grounds of law, local and international treaties. I would have against all obvious evidence to the contrary assumed that Nigeria recognises the fact children do exist and that they have rights. I would have assumed that Nigeria’s signatures to international treaties meant anything to the rulers, even before the ink is dry on the treaties. I would have had to ascribe to the Nigerian State, the attributes it does not ascribe to itself by its character since 1960.
Now, I see the Nigerian state clearly by its fruits. Omar Farouq’s is an eloquent testimony to the character of the Nigerian state.
Still fresh in our memory is Leah Sharibu, the 16 year-old school girl child abducted from her school in northeast in February 2018. It was reported that while her friends were released, she was held back because she insisted on not renouncing her Christian faith. The Nigerian state could not secure her release. It has now been reported that she is today carrying the baby of a Boko Haram commander.
Nigeria is yet to achieve a closure regarding the celebrated case of the Chibok Girls.
46 million Nigerian children are displaced from receiving education due to the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to UNICEF, Nigeria has overtaken India as World Capital for under-five deaths.
Our Life Expectancy is the fourth lowest in the world, disgracefully sharing a soffocating room with Lesotho, Chad and Central African Republic.
I do not write today to demand justice for Omar Farouq as I will not be found committing another blasphemy before God and His holy angels, demanding the soothing water of justice from the ossified rock, known as Nigeria.
See, the foregoing will not make too much different to the state of the Nigerian child even if his appeal against the judgement succeeds in the appellate courts.
We must understand the pattern. The Nigerian state shows its fangs. Local and international activists protest the same. Due to pressure, particularly from the international community, the pang of the fangs is assuage by relaxing the same on the immediate victim. Then we rejoice and thank the state.
Yet, the state continues its surreptitious attack on the Nigerian children and other members of the contraption. We wait again for another extreme expression of the use of the fangs and we repeat the circle of intervention.
It is a palliative form of intervention. How come we have never been interested in the root of the tree and our agitation is for the fruits it produces.
The Book the I read says, by their fruits we shall know them. I do not think the book says by their fruits, we shall uproot them.
The foundation of the Nigerian state needs to be revisited by all peaceful means necessary and the pace of the same cannot be dictated by the ruling elite. It has to be engineered by the Nigerian masses.
Thus cases like Omar Farouq’s must be treated as what it is: an opportunity to call for the revisitation of the faulty foundation upon which Nigeria was erected.
Please note that religion and ethnicity are not the issues here. ‘Religion,’ is said to be the opium of the masses’ and not of the elite. It the elites, who brew the opium and serve it in an inordinate proportion. Religion and ethnicity are tools of enslavement in the hands of the state. It is always a class issue. Think about this: if Omar Farouq were to be the son of the elite or their complicit cronies, would his fate be as it is now?
We must begin to call for a new nation where in truth and in deed and in accordance with the universally acclaimed principle of Social Contract, the WELFARE and the SECURITY of the people shall be the PRIMARY AIM of government at every tier and all levels of engagements between the government and the governed.
I am Taiwo AKINLAMI
I Speak for the Nigerian Child