Sheikh Gumi: My Offering of Thanksgiving

Sunday school classes at our All Saints Anglican Church, Oke-Bola, Ikole Ekiti, were interesting sessions, in those days. The Sunday school teachers, mostly our “Eskis Mas”-female teachers in our primary schools- were equally fantastic. They entered the classes asking questions. “Tani Abrahamu”-who is Abraham? We would respond in a chorus: “Abramu ni ore Olorun, ohun si ni apere igbagbo”-Abramu is a friend of God and an example of faith. They taught us many stories from the Bible, and, at the end of each class, they would ask which lesson we could infer from the stories. For instance, on the story of how Jonathan saved David from being killed by Saul, Jonathan’s father and king of Israel and how, when David became king, he looked for Jonathan’s lame son, Mephibosheth, and made him to eat at the king’s table, we would be asked: “kini itan yi ko wa”-what lesson does this story teach us? Answer: “o ko wa pe ki a ma mo oore”-it teaches us to be appreciative of favours done to us. I can never forget the virtues of those didactic teachings. As a proper Anglican Boy, I come this day, with a heart of thanksgiving, to appreciate our very darling Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, the fiery Islamic scholar, whose recent acts and arts of (in)humanity, have saved and  is saving Nigeria from avoidable agonies. There is a set of people we call “Akanda Eda”-those created to be unique. They are special in their own ways. They engage in dangerous ventures and survive it….. An akanda eda runs where angels even fear to tread and nothing happens to him. He goes into the evil forest, wrestles with the spirits and comes out without a scratch. They do the unthinkable and nothing unthinkable happens to them. Special beings don’t suffer like the ordinary people. Sheikh Gumi is an akanda eda and Nigerians should be grateful to the cosmic powers for giving us a man like him at this time. Every epoch has its prophet, just as every terrible period has its redeemer. Gumi is to us what Tyche, the god of fortune, was to ancient Greece. The Sheikh is equivalent to the literary interventionist principle, deus ex machina, he has saved us from calamities. Nigeria is in a terrible situation, now, and we cannot but appreciate a special being like Gumi, whose solo efforts have been yielding dividends in many ways and fronts. The nation has benefited from his immense sense of diplomatic expertise; our tormentors-in-chief, the bandits and killer gangs, are smiling to their banks and buying more ammunition courtesy of the Cleric. And most importantly, our children have the confidence that whenever they are kidnapped in their hundreds, while sleeping in the dungeons we call school dormitories, there is a Sheikh in the waiting room to rescue them. Gumi is doing a yeoman’s job and I will not join the ingrates, such as Governor Nasir El- Rufai of Kaduna State to castigate the Islamic teacher. I adhere to the philosophy of “tie the wrapper round the waist or tie the waist round the wrapper, the most important thing is that the waist must not be bare”. No apologies! We are in a country of anything goes, who are we then to complain of anyhow solution?

Nigeria is a huge joke. Funny, hilarious, but painfully sad. Nigeria is an oxymoron; we are sadly happy at every event that comes our way. We are the very opposite of decency; abnormality thrills us. The idiocy of our leadership has gone full circle and there is no solution in sight. Why won’t we appreciate a man like sheikh Gumi, then? A few days ago, our Defence Minister, Bashir Saliki Magashi, told us to defend ourselves against the bandits terrorising us. His reasoning: the bandits have limited ammunition in their magazines. In essence, it won’t be a bad idea if 30 to 40 people died just to apprehend a bandit carrying an AK-47 with just three rounds of ammunition. Magashi is not an ordinary minister. He retired as a Major General in the Nigerian Army. He was at a time, Military Governor of Sokoto State for two solid years-1990-1992. And in the year of the Lord, 2021, he asked us to defend ourselves against bandits. Check what defence means in your dictionary and you will see the hopelessness of our situation. This is why Gumi comes in; the avatar and a man in the class of what the Bini call  ‘odolagbon’- repairer of humanity. Sheik Gumi is the saviour of this terrible era and he is far better than the man giving us the crap of self defense, but goes about with a retinue of security aides drawn from virtually all our Armed Forces, in addition to the countless number of marabouts, praying for his safety on the praying mats and whose supplicatory efforts  are rewarded  from our common patrimony. What about Magashi’s appointing authority, General Muhammadu Buhari, our president? What has been his reaction since his Defence Minister gave up on our security? As usual, mum. The Bini people have a folklore, depicted in monkeys carved on a walking stick. The monkeys are three in number and are called the three wise monkeys. One covers its face to see no evil; the second blocks its ears, to hear no evil and the last covers its mouth, to say no evil. If I were  a carver, I would add the fourth one, which folds its legs like a lame and donate the same to Aso Rock. Nothing replicates the anaesthesised nature of the Buhari presidency more than the Bini carved walking stick-a stock-still and effete presidency. It is only in Nigeria that a Defence Minister will disgorge such incomprehensible verbiage and retain his job thereafter. Take a bet; Magashi’s next appointment may be an ambassadorial appointment! That’s how the Buhari presidency rewards ineptitude. How many of us listened to the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General. Tukur Buratai (rtd.) last Thursday at the Senate and his tale of Boko Haram insurgency staying with us for the next 20 years? What about the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin (Rtd), who claimed to have warned the governors about the invasion of the forests by bandits and thereafter went to bed, doing nothing? How did you feel after the sessions? Thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed! But Buhari does not care. Buratai said the truth: we have 20 or more years of insurgency, killings, kidnappings and school invasions to contend with. While those last, our roads will remain unsafe. A guy was kidnapped on Ikare-Owo Road recently and someone said: “why did he leave Ikare around 3.00 pm”? 3pm is now a late hour for us to travel. We dare not even Set Forth at Dawn-hope Professor Wole Soyinka knows this now. Woe betides us if we venture out at night. And we must travel, once in a while. Our case has become like the tale of the king who gave his subject a piece of meat and told him not to roast, boil or  fry it; he must also not eat it raw. But, he must eat it, compulsorily.

When you are in such a dilemma as the king’s subject and nature drops on you, a man, like Sheikh Gumi, you must be an ingrate not to appreciate him. Only an ingrate will be asking: how come it  is only Sheikh Gumi who knows where the bandits stay? Only the unappreciative will question why the bandits only listen to the cleric and no other person. I know Gumi is a full blood Fulani and I know the power of Language of Wider Communication, LWC. Some even wondered why the Sheikh has not come under the bullet of the bandits. Terrible people; they have forgotten that Gumi was once a Captain in the Nigerian Army. Many don’t appreciate the fact that only the deep calls to the deep. I don’t belong to those categories. I can recognise the Sheikh’s talent and like Mr. Macaroni the comedian will say: “oooin, you are doing well sir”! That is why I am appealing to Sheikh Gumi to exploit his conviviality and comradeship with the bandits and help us to secure the release of our daughter, Leah Sharibu, who was kidnapped on February 19, 2018, three years ago, alongside 109 schoolgirls from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, GGSTC, Dapchi, Yobe State. Leah is the only one left in captivity. We know she cannot be the same Virgin Leah that was abducted, but, a child that is dead is better than a child that is lost. Gumi should assist in bringing her back in whatever shape. How Gumi knows the bad boys and understands them is very immaterial. Those who are supposed to probe into that are too dumb to know. It is gratifying that where the nation’s security agencies don’t know, the Sheikh knows like the back of his hands. Interesting times we are in! Check how gleefully the Niger State Government officials followed Gumi to the forest of a thousand bandits to rescue the school children? I had a swollen head and was covered in goose pimples  seeing those bandits in photo ops with the Sheikh. Those saying “it takes a thief to trace the footprints of another thief on the rock”, know nothing! Posterity will decide that. It doesn’t matter if Buhari sent armed policemen to go and clear unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate. We were told that is not a “designated ground for protest”. I care less if the government which romances armed bandits, who came out of the forest with their illegal arms and ammunition, received their share of the national cake and went back to their abode in the forest to unleash deadlier terrors, unmolested; is the same government that sent the Air Force to bombard Orlu and its environs. Governor Bello Muhammadu Matawalle of Zamfara State has told us that some of the bandits “are not criminals”. While the kagara, Niger State bandits only killed just one student out of 28; real criminals would have killed more. Wisdom will not kill Matawalle! The Orlu guys are unfortunate not to be Northerners and it is their fault that their parents chose to come from the East! Next time, they will know that in Nigeria, criminality is the exclusive preserve of the Fulani stock; the law is strict on other felons from the five percent voting regions! A shocker awaits those arguing that paying ransoms to bandits will only empower bandits the more, financially, to buy more arms. Our Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, is drafting a bill to establish a “Pastoralism Commission”, something like, “National Commission for the Payment of Ransom to Bandits”. All ethnic groups should key into that by talking to their men in government to help their regions. Minister Raji Fashola, SAN, for instance, should muster the courage to propose “Igbohoism Commission for (in)Human Rights in South-West”. The circle of idiocy must surely complete! Seeing Sheikh Gumi in those colourful photos with the haughty and menacing looking bandits and felons, gives me a surge of hope. The end to our nightmare is around the corner. Very soon, the bandits will no longer live in the forests. They will build mansions in cities and only retire to the forest for operations. You know why? We don’t have a government!



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