I laughed hysterically and I cannot just help it when I read that the Federal Government trained some almaajiris on computer literacy. Computer training for almaajiris? Though amusing, I see it as a typical example of putting the cart before the horse. I hope someone is thinking like me. The Federal Government should learn how to set priority.
This is just by the way. The focus of this column is on an exhilarating event which took place some weeks ago before the emergence of the so-called hijabi Miss Nigeria which we condemn as a misnomer. The event is about the Qur’an competition organized by the Kano State Police Command in which Mahi Ahmad, the Takai Divisional Police Officer in the state, emerged as the overall winner. Note that Takai and Garko are from Kano South Senatorial district and shares boundary. If beauty pageant is condemned, how do we react to this competition organized by the Police Command?
First and foremost, the nexus between Nigerian police and Qur’an competition is unfathomable to many people. How can Nigerian Police that is notorious for corruption and consensually agreed to be the most corrupt sector in Nigeria organize a Qur’an competition? If we disagreed with most foreign rankings, at least we should agree with the indigenous ones. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its first corruption survey report on Nigeria in 2016 identified the police as the most corrupt public agency. In its latest report in 2019 after three years, the police still maintains its ugly position.
Before this survey, an average Nigerian (if not all Nigerians) believes Nigerian police officers are very corrupt. NBS’s report only validates what is not in dispute. Thus, it was shocking—though also thrilling to those of us who admire the Qur’an—that Kano Police Command organized Qur’an Competition.
Could this be that police officers in Kano State are not corrupt or barely corrupt? No institution in Nigeria is free of corruption. But I can say that police men in Kano State are comparatively okay. Let me just say okay. Even the NBS confirms it. In its state by state record of police corruption, Kano is the third least corrupt state in Nigeria. Kudos to Kano State police officers.
Yet, there are questions to be asked. It is true that some of us welcome the competition because of our religious inclination just the way we hate immorality pageants. But then, is the competition appropriate?
Why not; if it will reform our men in uniform and improve their integrity deficit. But does our democratic system support this kind of competition? Is it not another attempt at Islamization as always alleged? Where was the funding for the competition sourced? Does memorization of Qur’an actually reform those who memorize it? I wish I can answer these questions.
Our democratic system seems to be neutral on this. One can take advantage of this neutrality to support religiously based competition provided it is not discriminatory. Not discriminatory in the sense that it does not favour a religion at the expense of others. I have argued this point time after time.
In this context, discrimination can be avoided in two ways. It is either states with Christian dominance replicate such competition in their domains—I mean Bible recitation competition in, for instance, Imo State or any willing state will have to organize both Qur’an and Bible recitation competitions for Muslim and Christian police officers respectively.
This is one of the major challenges of democratically governed pluralist state like Nigeria—jealousy. Jealousy may not be intrinsically wrong if we express it in a healthy competitive manner. It is only bad when it becomes destructive. Those who kick against the competition, of course, do so out of jealousy, and they are right to do so.
Nevertheless, since Kano Police Command intends to make it an annual event, Christians who frown at it could be encouraged and supported to organize Bible Competition so that we can all live in peace. Someone like me will like to grace such occasion—if invited—to see how the Bible is memorized and recited—off hand—from Genesis to Revelation by my Christian friends. I think this will be healthy.
On the alleged Islamization, this always sounds funny to me. Anyway, we are just used to it in Nigeria. Any actions or inactions by those in authority are interpreted as Islamization or Christianization. It depends on who is in power. It was the same noise when El-Rufai declared a four-day workweek in Kaduna.
I was expecting a similar noise of Christianization in the United Arab Emirates when last month it declared a five-day workweek to include Fridays. Friday was initially a free work day in the Muslim dominated Emirates. Yet no noise of Christianization from citizens. I wish Nigerians will be weaned from this babyish cry over split milk and face the challenge of corruption and bad governance.
This said, the Takai DPO won the competition and was given assorted gifts like fans, television sets, refrigerators, and bicycles. Compare these with what Miss Nigeria from Garko got and tell me we are serious people.
As for the funding, it has to be funded by the police officers themselves. Individuals or organizations should not be allowed to sponsor religiously based competitions among police officers as this might lead to a fantastic corruption. It will affect police disinterestedness in dispute resolution especially when their sponsors or sponsors’ relatives are parties in disputes.
Lastly, it is true that Qur’an reforms man to be human and humane. This is because it preaches justice, selflessness, accountability, love, consciousness of the Creator. So memorizing it is a right step in the right direction if the memorizer understands the injunctions—dos and don’ts— and acts as instructed. Therefore, not all Qur’an memorizers are responsible. Some are useless just as we have useless clerics. May Allah make the Qur’an our guide and bless us.