It took several efforts and interventions from the Amirul-Hajj and the pilgrims’ guides (otherwise known as Alfas) from Lagos and other states, to dissuade pilgrims from raining curses on the Nigerian government and instead turn it to prayers.
Nigerians have long been deceived that our rulers and leaders often visit the mini paradise, holy city of Mecca because of the holy house of worship – Kaaba. This is far from the truth (as learnt by the pilgrims) and was the main reason behind the pilgrims’ invocation of destruction on the ruling class, with the hope that their extinction would bring about peace and people’s centered government.
Before coming to Mecca, it was considered a normal action for the wise to equip him or herself with necessary facilities when embarking on any long distanced journey. This actually informed many Nigeria pilgrims to add both desktop chargers and i-phone power-banks to their luggages. Many are already regretting this as mere addition of an unnecessary burden to the average kilograms of permissible luggage for pilgrims.
The permutations of irregularities of power supply in Nigeria has naturally affected average mentality in believing that it is impossible to have a nationwide 48 hours power supply. But the Saudi government proved this wrong as no electricity failure was experienced so far since arriving Mecca.
We also learnt that it has always been like this for decades. This automatically disgraced and rendered the pilgrims’ power storage gadgets from Nigeria useless.
The power-banks and the phone-chargers were not the only gadgets from Nigeria to be disgraced at the holy city of Mecca, but also those traditionally innovated ‘’gadgets’’ of spiritual protections such as amulets were all rendered useless.
There were many people that were raised from birth with the belief that, without those ‘’material-gods’’ tied on both arms and other parts of their bodies serving as their primary source of protection among other benefits, they would have neither peace nor security. This was proven wrong completely as none was allowed with such therein; yet people are living a healthy life with peace of the heart because of reliable medical facilities; good security and equity.
Also, the erroneous impression ingrained in many from childhood that the traditional idol-worshipping still subsisting in our local culture was the ‘’original’ with the wrong notion and saying that “even the Holy Kaaba in Mecca was initially occupied by idols”.
This erroneous claim was as a result of the myopic understanding of the genesis of idols worship in the Kaaba. The house itself was originally built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ismail as instructed by the Almighty Creator, Allah solely for His worship. Years of interlude without prophets in the place, and the encounter of Amr Bn Luhayy who went on trade mission to Sham (modern Syria) and found the worship of idol thriving was the one who introduced the worship of idol to the province long before the arrival of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as the last messenger with the true divine message of Tawhid (Oneness of God).
With frequent trade missions to other centers of the then world where idols and their worship was rife, there came an upsurge in idols as object of worship, and the hitherto empty-spaced Kaaba became littered with many idols as there were families. It was part of the Divine design that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would conquer Mecca again after been driven out, and then cleanse the Kaaba of all idols.
Aside a stable power supply, almost everything about the cities of Mecca and Medina seems perfect. The issue of security is one of these. Everyone is free to move around, 24 hours without any fear whatsoever. No area-boys, either free or government sponsored as we have in Nigeria. No one asks for your belongings as everyone appears to be satisfied. This is unlike Nigeria where the extremely poor citizens are faced with regular harassment from those who have stolen the collective wealth to create a class that is extremely wealthy.
Saudi roads are not only perfectly constructed but construction works go on all time in preparation for future challenges.
As the Executive Director of Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) that receives reports of activities and rights abuses from our units nationwide, I can say that it is only in Shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State that one can see a semblance of such continuous work; where you would see the Executive Chairman of the local government Hon. Abd. Hamed Salawu (Dullar), working in unison with the constituency’s representative at the state level, Hon. Olowo Rotimi, on visible projects since resumption to office.
One would wonder how this duo are expected to typically ‘make something’ for themselves as it has become the norm in our clime. However, with available information to us, we can safely testify to a judicious use of public funds as the reason behind their success. Thank God we now have the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill averagely effective in Nigeria; though the last time I asked questions around transparency and accountability somewhere in Lagos, I received a death threat which was later taken up by the Nigeria Police Force.
How the Saudis achieved these man-made phenomena such as good roads, good security and health among others still baffles many considering the unfriendly environment that the desert represents.
Unlike Nigeria where we have seasons and periods of weather conditions that is humanly friendly, the weather conditions in the Holy city is so unfriendly that you must advisably stay indoor in the afternoon. The temperature was fluctuating around 57 degrees, which means few minutes outdoor could have all waters in your body drained. This is a city surrounded by heavy rocks and so not possible to access water via drilling of boreholes, yet there is regular access to water across board. Nigerian on the other hand is a country surrounded by waters with almost little or no effort required to get at it, yet there is lack of access to good water in most parts, including Lagos state, the self-acclaimed ‘state of aquatic splendor’!.
Unfortunately our ruling class would always find excuses for their failures. Recently on Monday July 29, 2019, the immediate past minister for Works, Power and Housing, Raji Fashola during the screening of Ministers at the red chamber of the Senate, did his best to diplomatically exonerate himself on questions bordering on the poor state of roads in the country, with admirable intelligence.
“Road projects were prioritized in order of economic and commercial importance…bla bla bla..”. This is nothing but stories; a tales by moonlight theater for themselves in the ruling class. Our country is divided into two factions; the government and the governed; the rulers and the ruled; or the exploiters and the exploited. Fashola’s tales is for members of his class. What Nigerians want to see is results and not stories. Everyone is sure that Nigeria is a wealthy nation, except for lack of good government.
On education, it is impossible to see a non-educated person in the city of Mecca because the king’s children attend the same school with a low ranked police officer’s children. In Nigeria on the other hand, a Vice President’s child is in private schools, and at times, outside the country; public officers attend private hospitals among other institutions. How can such elements be serious and dedicated to good governance? But this would always be defended by certain constitutional jargons.
The reality is that the structure on ground in Nigeria does not support development. Nigeria in almost two decades of the practice of democracy still operates with a semi-military fashioned Constitution. Saudi-Arabia operates with a constitution that always supports equity and justice.
Lack of equity in distribution of wealth naturally leads to poverty and crime. Many still question the real work of the Nigerian legislators other than going to appropriate monies for themselves.
We see Nigerians at times running to escape arrest by police in Mecca, who would later cart their goods away. When interviewed on why running away without their goods, the response is that they are aware that it is illegal to sell by the roadside. They are actually illegal residents.
Some states in Nigeria are already practising this with complete ignorance, without any alternative provision for the citizens. Nigerians are hardworking people, but government is not at times encouraging. Many are yet to recover from the unjust demolition/ redistribution of Tejuosho Market among others in Lagos state. Mosafejo community was illegally destroyed and taken over also by the Lagos state government without necessary compensation to the original residents. Only few were compensated while some with all necessary documents to their houses still come to the office of the Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) to agonize. This is nothing but a daylight robbery on the citizens.
Saudi government on the other hand has provisions for all citizens, including those with disabilities. No one is desperate to work to cater for basic necessities, except illegal immigrants.
What prevail in government in Nigeria has affected the psyche of even the religious scholars and institutions. Average members of religious organizations who must have contributed to the building of universities owned by religious houses cannot have their children attend same on account of poverty.
On agriculture, it remains a mystery how one can access all reasons fruits and vegetables at all times. One thing is however sure, proceed from government intervention is not shared by politicians but truly utilize for its original purpose.
Except for workshops and trainings in good governance, Saudi government should ban members of the Nigerian ruling class from visiting the country until they replicate in their country, the structures and amenities they regularly come here to enjoy.
Corruption should no longer be an excuse for our government. Ghana was also a country in corruption before the advent of Rawlings who changed things over. This was the hope that the suffering masses of Nigeria had in President Muhammad Buhari before voting him to power. Though many are gradually losing confidence, some of us still believe in his integrity and are as well still expectant.
Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak
Executive Director Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA)