Strengthening family bonds, encouraging nation-building


This week, the major message sent to Nigerians, especially the custodians of values and social ideals, by President Muhammadu Buhari is simple and apt: Let Christians and Muslims leaders and preachers pay more attention to issues that strengthen bond of families and encourage nation-building.

The president, it can be said, spoke at the right time and place. The event was the Joint National Conference of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Future Assured Initiative on “Repositioning the Muslim Family for National Development.”

The president said, rightly so, that the family provides the bedrock for any society, and deserves more attention in Nigeria, especially now that the nation’s moral values appear to be at the lowest ebb and need to be rebuilt and strengthened.

“In this endeavour, our religious leaders and organizations are most important catalyst. They are the custodians of our values and of our social ideals. It is, therefore, commendable that the Nigerian Supreme Council in collaboration with the Future Assured Initiative has risen up to this challenge,” he said. “I, however, wish to call on all our religious leaders and organizations, both Christian and Muslim, to follow suit by redirecting important elements of their preaching and teachings on family issues with a view to broadening the sensitization of people at the grassroots level.”

The president say so because religion helps people decide what is wrong from right. Without religion, people wouldn’t fear disobeying God and they would act as they please. Although Nigeria is a secular nation, many people still believe in religion in order to get on the good side of God.

Religion, truly, is important, particularly now that immorality is regrettably forcing youth, who are deemed as leaders of tomorrow, into dangerous sinful roles that tear families apart and society. Children run wild, never knowing true discipline. The rod for spankings is needed to make sure the child obeys his father like his father obeys God. Otherwise, the stage is set for downfall of the country.

Some Nigerians, without religion, or because their understanding of it is poor, persecute and kill honest, hardworking and innocent people. These criminals, who kill in the name of religion must be stopped. Religion is absolutely vital to modern society like ours. Religion is what determines the norms by which a society should operate.

Here in Nigeria, even though there are many religions within the country, Muslims and Christians’ characters, morals, values and integrity are what, luckily, keep the peace. Though we all understand that to take a life or to steal is a sin, the wicked among us still commit murder.

Yet, to a very large extent, such behaviours occur because of the attempt being made by criminals to change religious values comprising love, peace and tolerance upon which this country was founded.

However, we must tolerate and love other religions and their adherents for if we do not have different religious beliefs in the society how will we learn new things, new languages, cultures, foods and even clothing other than ours? Yes, religion plays a vital role in the society, especially now. Truly, religion will make or break us as a people, depending on how we understand and practice it.

And, this is where the president’s message to religious leaders, preachers and, in general, Nigerians, makes sense. Religion does play a major role because it’s usually the moral foundation of society. We all must return to the values of our two most prominent religions of Islam and Christianity in order to live peacefully, lovingly and develop our country.

But to achieve this objective, the government must do its own part and, specifically, tackle mass poverty among the populace through the creation of jobs opportunities and economic empowerment of families to make them economically stable.

Gratefully, the president said the present administration is conscious of the havoc poverty is wreaking on the family, and poverty alleviation measures such as the Social Investment Programme, which serves as a very broad framework for availing Nigerian families at the grassroots level different forms of economic support, have been put in place to help families.

Like Garkida attacks, like many others

Expectedly, President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the recent Boko Haram attack on Garkida, Adamawa state. Expectedly too, the president extended his sympathy to families of the victims.

The attack in Garkida, a town in Gombi, a local government area in Adamawa state, saw the insurgents killed people and destroyed properties. Boko Haram terrorists had earlier attacked Auno in Maiduguri, Borno state, leaving about 30 people dead.

The attacks, indeed, were deadly but, happily, the insurgents may have done their worst. The president said no part of Nigeria would, henceforth, be abandoned to their fate, the president.

“These attacks on soft targets by terrorists are obvious signs of frustration because my administration has significantly weakened Boko Haram’s military capability to invade and hold Nigerian territory unchallenged,” he said. “Our gallant forces deserve our appreciation for repelling the attackers but they must go beyond this point. They have our full support to go after the terrorists and have them pay a huge price. I want to assure the country that terrorists will continue to face the combined power of our military until they give up their mistaken ways. These occasional and episodic attacks on poor civilians by terrorists are mere propaganda efforts to portray them as strong in order to fool the public into believing that they haven’t been militarily weakened by our gallant troops.”

However, aside the human cost in the Boko Haram insurgency, the atrocities of the sect also have socio-economic implications, especially in the North-east region, where the activities of Boko Haram are more pronounced.

Commercial activities in the North-east continue to suffer because of the activities of the insurgents and, with that, human capital and investors drain is experienced. Economic development in the region is at a standstill due to the attacks on banks, markets, parks and government offices that have led to the migration of people to other parts of the country.

For instance, in Borno state, the Maiduguri Monday Market arguably the biggest market in the city, is reported to have been seriously affected as hundreds of shop owners are said to have closed their businesses and left the troubled city. About half of the 10,000 shops and stalls in the market were said to have been abandoned by traders who have fled the city.

Equally, the economy of the North-east is seriously affected because foreign citizens, mainly from Chad and Cameroun, who contributed significantly to the development of the region are sent back to their countries of origin. The incessant attacks, orchestrated by Boko Haram in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, have had serious negative impacts on the economic lives of people living in the affected areas.

In Maiduguri, Borno state, where the sect originated, the frequent bombings and clashes between Boko Haram and the security agents have weighed down seriously on the commercial and businesses activities in the city as many business have reportedly crumbled while many people have fled the state.

These ugly developments have, regrettably, led to a dichotomy in the development of the North and South of Nigeria. The poverty profile released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) illustrates that poverty prevail more in the North than in the South.

If Boko Haram continues to threaten peace and security in the North-eastern part of the country, development of the region will remain static and the material inequality between the North and South will widen. The region needs peace and stability to foster infrastructural development, education, and poverty reduction.

It is important to note that if the government fails to address the menace of Boko Haram and other forms of insecurity problems in Nigeria, then, not only will the North be economically depressed but Nigeria as a whole risk losing more lives and billions of Naira in property.

Happily, the president said that security outfits in the country will continue to be funded, despite competing needs from other sectors and limited resources. As Nigerians, we should, in the words of the president, “continue to support our troops in their gallant efforts to protect the citizens and secure the country.”

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