It is hard to answer this question without either gushing embarrassingly or resorting to brushing of primordial sentiments. But either way, it will not becloud my understanding of the real motive behind the sermon delivered by Imam Surajo Kankia at the GRA EID-EL- Fitr prayer ground on Sallah day last week. For emphasis, Imam Surajo Mahmud Kankia is the ‘Shugaban Malamai’ of the JIBWIS Katsina state branch a position that places second in the perking order in the decision making body of the organisation and as such what he said could be ascribed to be the opinion of the JIBWIS Katsina state, especially considering the place and the time it was delivered.
At the start of the Ramadan Fast early last month, the ‘Shugaba’ of JIBWIS went around some selected mosques within his area of jurisdiction to deliver the organisation’s goodwill message and pleaded with the faithful to exercise patience with the state government as it struggles with its financial obligations to them. In the course of that he was ambuscaded at a particular mosque by some faithful who were aggrieved that their salaries were not paid but he took time (as somebody in the know) to explain the intricacy that shrouded the inability of the government to pay as at when due. Albeit the explanation didn’t go down well with many of the people at the mosque but apparently he was able to inform them that the JIBWIS has given the state government a vote of confidence in all its activities with the people. It is therefore surprising that Imam Surajo would come out with that contentious sermon to mark the end of the Ramadan Fasting session at the Eid prayer ground. From the surface of it, the sermon appeared innocent and harmless but then when one considers the sermoniser and exigency of the time at which it was delivered one will have no hesitation to believe it was delivered on anything other than religion. Indeed, the government condemned it and accused him of delivering his sermon in bad faith. In a quick reaction a group of Ulamas led by the deputy of the ‘Shugaba’ paid a visit to the Government house to conciliate the Governor on the pronouncements and accused the Sheik of doing so on his own. Even during that visit pandemonium ensued between the Ulamas with some of them showing support to the Sheik.
But what remains to be heard now is the reaction of the ‘Shugaba’ who is believed to have travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Umarah when the ill-omened sermon was delivered and the fracas that it generated. Whatever his reaction however, the sermon indicates only one thing and that is JIBWIS Katsina state has become polarised. My fear here is that with this disunity, one will not be surprised if very soon we start to see mosques under the leadership of PDP JIBWIS and mosques under APC JIBWIS all over the state. This is attested and evidently shown on Sheik Surajo’s facebook timeline where the comments that trailed his post on the acceptability and the desirability of the sermon indicated those for (are from the PDP) and those against (are from the APC).
One wonders why JIBWIS is so forward in its relationship with the government but for the sake of peace and religious coexistence, instead of overheating the polity unnecessarily they should just behave like the other stakeholders in the Katsina state project. After all, nobody, no organisation can claim that the government is his or its own product; rather it is the result of the sweat of all and sundry in the state including those who don’t even practice the Islamic faith.