When Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State said that Nigerians resort to religious and ethnic sentiments to defend a wrong doing or breach of the law, he couldn’t have meant that people should dismiss God and religion out of their lives. Saying don’t take cover under religion or ethnicity to get cheap sympathy when you are wrong is not synonymous with saying don’t love your religion or your ethnic group.
Why do Nigerians pretend in the face of obvious truth? When a Nigerian is punished for a wrong doing in his workplace, he won’t tell his people the truth of what he did. Instead, he would twist the story to claim that he was sacked because his boss doesn’t like him because he is either a Muslim or a Christian. A woman who is punished at the workplace for a wrong doing would tell fellow women that she was sacked because she refused to sleep with her boss in order to gain sympathy and divert attention.
A law is a law. You cannot use religious and ethnic sentiments to bend the law to favour you. Your religion and ethnicity should not be a licence for impunity. In London, they have regulations on the use of loudspeakers at Churches and Mosques, and the Muslims and Christians obey those laws without accusing the government of hating them. Your rights exist in relation to other rights, and therefore, you cannot claim special rights to violate the rights of others. Are the occupation of public roads as long as you please at the expense of other road users, preaching without regulation, establishing Churches and Mosques at unauthorized places at will part of your rights?
If everybody does whatever they like, and seek to hide behind the manipulation of religious and ethnic sentiments to undermine the law, it may produce unpleasant consequences that would harm the interest of the larger society. Politicians tolerated the activities of Mohammed Yusuf, the Boko Haram founder, in Borno State because they needed the support of his large followers for political advantage. Former British PM Tony Blair said a good leader must be able to take difficult and necessary decisions, and I praise El-Rufai for doing just that. Great leaders don’t bend the law in order to be popular because the consequences of crippling the law are by far greater than the perceived political advantages of doing so.