The exemplary conduct of Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, the 83-year-old Muslim cleric who put his life on the line to save about 300 persons, mostly Christians, from murderous herdsmen in Nghar Village in Gashish District of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, is commendable. His patriotic act is a reminder of our common humanity and an apt illustration of how to be our brother’s keeper.
The cleric saved the lives of hundreds of fleeing persons who took refuge in his mosque and in his house to avoid being killed by killer herdsmen. He offered protection to the women in his house, and the men in his mosque, while keeping watch at the entrance. When the killer herdsmen arrived and wanted to forcefully gain access to the mosque, the Imam insisted that the people inside were Muslims. Not even the threat by the herdsmen could make him change his mind or betray his fellow citizens who ran to him for safety.
The moving tale shows that there are still good Nigerians, irrespective of ethnicity, creed and political affiliation. The act indicates that despite our differences, Nigerians still see themselves as one people. The story of the cleric reminds us of the good old days of our nationhood where Nigerians across the divide lived together in peace and harmony. In those days, religion was never the problem, while one’s place of origin was not an issue. Our history is replete with instances of how people from different regions and religions got elected in the most unlikely places in the country. In the First Republic, for example, the inimitable Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe held sway for a long time in the predominantly Yoruba Western Region. The late elder statesman, Sunday Awoniyi was reputed to have been mentored by the late Premier of Northern Region, Ahmadu Bello.
The Imam’s sacrifice was said to have saved more lives, as many more Christians learning of his great act of sacrifice and love, ran in his direction for protection from the killers. These killers, for their selfish purposes, have turned the essence of religion on its head. Whereas, religion, in its purest form, is an expression of one’s personal relationship with his God, these vandals and their sponsors have turned it into a tool for hate, divisions and sinister motives.
That Imam Abubakar put his life on the line in order to save fellow citizens from danger is worth celebrating. He could easily have been killed if the killers discovered that he lied to them about the faith of those under his protection. His sacrifice is a demonstration of the highest form of altruism, courage, benevolence and love for fellow man.
For his uncommon sacrifice, the authorities have taken note, and he is being presently celebrated not only in the country, but around the world. At a special audience with Governor Samuel Lalong of Plateau State, it was revealed that his exceptional conduct has reached the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and that the Imam would be honoured at a ceremony planned for a later date. His recognition is appropriate and deserving. We recommend the same gesture to be extended to many others whose altruistic and courageous acts may have saved the lives of many Nigerians in the past.
The country, at a time of unprecedented divisions and tensions resulting from all kinds of primordial sentiments, needs the worthy example of Citizen Imam Abubakar to remind us of our oneness. We urge other Nigerians to emulate the good example of the cleric. Let all Nigerians imbibe the spirit of brotherliness and live in peace.