By Olayinka Oyegbile
Muammar Gaddafi is a newsmaker any day and anywhere he goes. He is not like other leaders who do not give journalists interesting quotes. I am yet to get over the surprise that his tenure as chairperson of the African Union, a post he had very much desired, lasted without any much drama. The only controversy during the time was his attempt to elongate his tenure as the AU’s head, perhaps viewing the organisation as an extension of his Libya where he has held power since 1969. African leaders, knowing this would send a wrong signal across the world, rejected his plan.
Now, he has jumped into a new controversy. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) last week quoted Mr. Gaddafi as offering what he thought, in his fertile imagination, was the best solution to the crises of relationship which seem to have embroiled Nigeria in the last few years.
According to the report which the BBC credited to the Libyan news agency, the maverick leader of Libya said the best way to solve this problem was to severe Nigeria into two and let the Muslims go their way and the Christians to their tents. To back his argument, he, reportedly, pointed to what was done to India and Pakistan shortly before independence by allowing the Muslim dominated Pakistan to go its way and the Hindu dominated India the other way.
But has the separation solved the problem between the two countries? Are Pakistani Muslims and Indian Hindus not fighting between themselves? If religion is the basis on which people would no longer fight one another, why are the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in Iraq always engaged in internecine wars? Is Libya, which boasts of being an Islamic country, free of strife among its Muslims?
The Libyan leader has by this simplistic and out rightly stupid outburst shown that he is not the kind of leader that the continent should look forward to. As the Yoruba people say, cutting off the head is not the cure for a nagging headache! No sensible person would think that the solution to the senseless killing going on in northern Nigeria is to apply the Gaddafi recipe. I am not by any stretch of imagination a supporter of getting people divided along religious or tribal lines. It is bad enough that Africa’s colonial masters divided the continent along tribal and ethnic lines why then should the Gaddafis of this world want to further polarise it along religious cleavages?
Tribal and ethnic wars are usually easy to overcome. Religious divisions are the worst kinds of differences and should not be allowed to fester. What is happening in Nigeria has not gone too bad as to desire or require the dangerous recipe that Gaddafi has proposed. He should leave Nigeria alone and concentrate on his selfish expansionist ambition in his spheres of the Arab world.
The condemnation of his recipe by Nigeria’s Senate President, David Mark, who dismissed him saying he is ’mad’’, might be harsh on a leader of another country but what do you call a man who does not weigh his words before throwing them around?
The African continent is unlucky to be inflicted with men who spew nonsense and behave irrationally. Finally, however, no matter how much condemnation we heap of Gaddafi, we must tell Nigerian leaders to wake up to their duties to the traumatised populace and save us from being killed by some marauding bandits who hide under the guise of religion to shed innocent blood.