Being text of Keynote Speech delivered by HE Judge Bola Ajibola, SAN, at the 3rd Annual Convention of Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) in Lagos on the 7th September, 2013. Website: www.mpac-convention.org.
HE Judge Bola Ajibola, SAN
Factually and incontestably, all nations of the world are currently faced with a problem one way or the other. The whole world is still miles away from the just and equitable planet envisaged by the founding fathers of United Nations close to seventy years ago. Leaders and major actors in the world body have largely failed to live up to expectation as enshrined in the charter of the organisation. Hence, humanity is now faced with more wars, more territorial and religious conflicts, with one solution breeding another set of problems. We continue to witness more incidences of inequality occasioned by deprivation and greed as well as rampant, illegal, primitive and inordinate acquisition of wealth. To worsen matters, stealing of money meant for alleviation of poverty and development is accompanied by flaunting, reckless spending and conspicuous consumption of items of luxury and above all, absolute moral decadence. I shall return to this point later.
Instead of promotion of peaceful means of resolving conflicts, world leaders now engage in prospecting, lobbying and actively canvassing for war, not minding its attendant destruction and dislocation. For reasons, some obvious and the rest best known to them, those who have been chosen by providence to be leaders of humanity are now merchants of the international military industrial complex, with its arsenal and stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and environmental degradation. Surprisingly, these same people who manufacture and merchandise weapons of mass pain and death are also parading themselves as champions of democratic values and peace. You may create a mental picture of what I am trying to say if you come to the realisation that a single armoured tank deployed for battle in Somalia, in Syria, in Darfur, in DR Congo and all the war theatres of the world, costs a minimum of about $5 Million Dollars. How many hundreds of such tanks have been deployed over the years in these horrible, fruitless, fratricidal wars? How much really is needed to feed the starving populations and revive the economies and remove famine from these lands?
How on earth can one support and encourage the manufacturing of weapons and agents of violence and destruction for profit on one hand and then hope and pray they would be used for peaceful purposes on the other? How would those industries thrive profitably if buyers and clients do not repeat purchase orders? Why do we continue to manufacture those weapons if they are not meant to be used? What an incongruity! These are posers for all humanity especially for those world leaders who are at the controlling centres of the international community today. As the saying goes, “those who sow the wind must expect to reap whirlwind”. The whirlwind is now manifesting itself in all parts of the world in various ways including terror, suffering, debilitation and environmental degradation. At this point, one can justifiably revisit the poem by William Yeats which inspired the title of Chinua Achebe’s great novel, THINGS FALL APART. Yeats wrote:
“ Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer,
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity”.
For emphasis, I wish to repeat the fourth line of that poem and permit me to add the word sheer , to read, mere and sheer anarchy is loosed upon the world. Indeed, the whole world is now entangled in one web of anarchy or the other. Humanity as it is constituted today “has murdered sleep, and can sleep no more” (apologies to Shakespeare in Shakespeare). The great nations, the controlling centres of the world themselves like U.S.A., Russia, China, United Kingdom and India, are at the moment facing a myriad of problems socially, economically and some politically, let alone the large clusters of small and vulnerable developing countries whose masses are faced with perennial situations of wars, famine, poverty, and avoidable deaths.
Since the creation of the universe, as science struggles to prove, with the big bang of over 13 billion years ago (a theory to which many Muslim scientists and commentators have alluded Chapter 21 verse 30 of the Holy Qur’an), and our solar system of about over 4 billion years ago, the situation in the whole world continues to deteriorate. Since we creatures on earth, particularly the human element continue to multiply in numbers, attaining the 7 billion mark in October 2011; with China and India having the largest majority each with a population exceeding 1 billion; and with 3 more billion expected at the end of the 21st century, the chickens have really come home to roost. Whether we like it or not, this is the station at which the human race has worked hard to arrive. May I quickly add, however, that were the world’s population to suddenly double today, it could spread thinly on the earth’s surface and still leave a large proportion of our planet unoccupied and unused; and of course, the provision of Allah for creation abound beyond measure. Why then do we have so much pain in a world so richly endowed by our Creator? How do we build a just society on this scenario through leadership and good governance?
The pre-requisite of building a just society simply necessitate good governance where peace, unity, and security predominate within such a society. All members must be able to claim justice, fairness, equity and above all happiness. In such society, the rule of law must reign supreme, law and order must be deeply entrenched, there must be adequate and prompt sanction against any act of lawlessness and misbehaviour. We need to be more disciplined on this earth.
God’s purpose for establishing us as vicegerents on earth is both an immense favour and a huge responsibility. It is only those who strive to do the biddings of God that will attain eternal felicity. Allah says:
“O mankind! We have created you from
A male and a female, and made you into
Nations and tribes, that you may know
One another. Verily, the most honourable
Of you with Allah is that believer who is
Pious. Verily, Allah is All-Knower,
Justice essentially must start from one own self, and this entails not consuming or aspiring to appropriate anything to oneself in unfair and undue proportion. Sheer greed and avarice have no place in the life of man as ordained by Allah, our Creator. Society therefore cannot thrive positively in an atmosphere of unfettered accumulation of materials meant for the common good of all by a privileged few.
As we have seen from the verse of the Holy Qur’an quoted earlier, Islam recognises the plausibility of a pluralistic society, which accepts a reality of difference in race and religion, in tribe and tongue, but entrenches the commonality of our shared human values. And as it were, wars, poverty, injustice and other evils that pervade our world today are blind to race, religion, tribe or tongue. By and large, the world at this stage is in a stage of enigma. While on one hand we are preaching peace, security, unity and development, on the other hand we are producing in a large scale a lot of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) like atomic bomb, hydrogen bomb, biological weapons, chemical weapons, drones and military aircraft faster than the speed of sound. All these are being sold to nations of the world for their internal and external destruction.
The question is quo vadis. That is, where do we go from here? I hope we are not working hard towards our self annihilation.