……by Abdul Sule

Last week or so, “General” Gumi was in the news again. This time it was with utter shock that Nigerians greeted the return of the Sheikh to limelight after a seeming hiatus from the national scene. What was even more astounding was the relentless emotive absence with which he resurfaced from hibernation. Delightfully, he dared to lead in the negotiations he was hoping for, to facilitate the release of about 300 abductees, of whom over ninety percent were vulnerable Nigerian school children all between the ages 8-12. He based his critical argument around the notion that government is losing its war against the bandit abductors and, hence must dialogue them out of their hostilities. Gumi’s open reaffirmation of wanting to lead the negotiations while suggesting that such negotiations have become quite conventional evokes only nostalgic irritation. It sounded utterly abrasive yet again, coming from none other than himself, to say the least. This is because, in retrospect, the same rhetoric emanating from different quarters may have elicited very unlikely reactions. But, coming from this Sheikh, on the other hand, it could only elicit public disdain and anger.

Gumi has been exposed as a brazen bandit-sympathizer whose repeated promise to curtail banditry after such dialogues with the outlaws, have had unsuccessful outcomes time and time again. This now famous self acclaimed bandit-negotiator and apologist cleric who is reputed to have vast contacts among the dissidents, in February 2021, depicted these marauding bandits as victims. He reprehensibly owned the argument that bandits should not be castigated or referred to as criminals and rather condemned journalists for describing the activities of bandits as illegal. He portrayed the stance that his interface with the traitors was one that could restore some order. Alas! It was all a ruse. While the abductors operated from the trenches in guerilla style, he, however, stood right before us all, repeatedly mocking our tears as a nation.

On the trail of the devastating development in Kuriga, Gumi awakes from slumber to incite citizens against government’s aversion to negotiating with criminals, by offering himself to “lead a holistic dialogue between the government and bandits”. He is such a con artist that he ridiculously describes the attempt to collect ransome for bandits as his religious duty towards promoting peace. Such effrontery! With a sustained distasteful ego, he shamelessly advocates this all-pecuniary yet concealed narrative, in the eagerness that he might gain big from it.

We must note that, given that the region in the country where Gumi hails from, has a global record of out-of-school children, he should have at the least feigned alignment with his religious obligation to pray for the peaceful return of kids to school. He may have been taken seriously if he offered himself to any lengths including martyrdom in exchange for the restoration of those children’s dreams, hopes and I mockingly say their spirituality.

Therefore, I expose to you the pits, such lowest depths that people can go to for pecuniary gains. His impudence is even more contemptuous coming from one who claims some volumes of sanctimony, posing as gods of ignorant men. A person, who should play a mediatory role between the Supreme Being and the mortals the shepherds, rather chooses to serve as a conduit for ransome collection.

Nigerians must ponder on the deceitful opinions of this prankster cleric whose close ally is standing prosecution for terrorism financing. We must all see him for what and who he truly is. Sheikh Gumi is the same as the bandits or so he has made us believe. His pursuit is of illicitly earned wealth. He only craves money and he wants it at the detriment of vulnerable school children whose fate remains largely unknown. The fallacy that he portrays, cannot be true for any Nigerian.

Voices must be raised to strengthen the role of the government in returning our communities to the once-a-time safe abodes that they were. As citizens, we owe the responsibility of not falling to primordial sentiments currently being expressed by misguided groups who believe that patronizing criminality is the leeway to the future. We must all agree that negotiating with bandits is far too controversial to be the norm.

If Gumi’s dialogue in Kaduna is the surest means to pave the return of the abducted school children, who will speak for kidnapped farmers and displaced women in Borno? Who will negotiate the rescue of politicians so far kidnapped in Edo, Imo or even Ekiti? Will it still be Gumi the facilitator-in-chief or he hopes in futility that Nigeria raises a band of negotiators like himself? By so doing, are we conceding to a situation where kidnap negotiations become the new national normal? God forbid that it happens so.

Another disturbing angle to his recent proposition is the surreptitious attempt to trap government into falling for prisoner swap in the course of negotiations. It is not erroneous that deductions signal the release of Tukur Mamu his co-traveler and once-a-time aide, as the target of this call for negotiations. Gumi impudently assumes his veiled intent can be taken hook, line and sinker. Such wasted energy.

That vigour can be rechanneled to counseling against crimes and criminality from formative years, by imparting in school children, impeccable values. The place of education is of utmost significance and as a Shiekh and once army official who largely benefited from a well-funded Nigerian educational system, ensuring societal safety is a spirit he is expected to embody. Gumi a direct descendant and protégé of Islamic scholars with a father who was the renowned first Grand Khadi of the old Northern Region, Gumi needs to do better. That he is currently at the forefront of aligning with dissidents to rock the boat, begs for inviolable answers.

Groups or persons who are sympathetic to defiant actions that further weaken the country and constitute a mockery of our common goals must be stopped. Nigerians must agree that these hostile and dissimilar prerogatives be stifled and not allowed the light of day. It is widely said, that an injury to one is an injury to all. Gumi is one with bandits and certainly against us all.

Abdul Sule resides in Kano State

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top