Gwoza Caliphate and Legitimacy of a Sovereign By Nasiru Suwaid
For any student of social theory, theology, comparative religion or jurisprudence, no word or term has greater significance than the Concept of Sovereignty, which is eternal will power of an individual to govern himself, but, as a group, though, it is usually ceded to an elected or appointed leader, who exercises it on behalf of the people. Indeed, to a believer in religion, it is sovereignty that defines the fallacy of polytheism, because, multiplicity of gods goes against the rationality of a single sovereignty, in fact, even in the world monotheism, which is a belief in one God, those who believe in the truism of Biblical Trinity, cannot explain how such a scenario is not a clever attempt at enshrining the multiplicity of a single sovereign. From the Islamic angle, some religious sects who have often presumed and projected divine powers solely reserved for Almighty Allah, to the very humanly and fallible members of the household of Prophet Muhammad, fell into this heretical fallacy.
Unlike in the western oriented English and greater European jurisprudence, Islamic jurisprudence does not give such sovereign powers directly to the people, rather, it is with God such power lies, though, it is the very humanly caliph or leader who holds it entrust as a representative vice gerent. The simple basic difference between the two schools of jurisprudence being, the Islamic oriented one ceding the power to God, while the western oriented one has left it with the people, but, was it not an African adage which says; ‘the voice of people is the voice of God’, which literally infers that were the people to be prisoners to fate, always acting at the behest and promptings of destiny, a kind of robotic characters, playing a role, from the scripted plot programmed by God. The general and collective will power of the people and indeed any action taken by them cannot be anything, more than the benevolent production and directorship of a clairvoyant supreme deity.
Sovereignty within the realm of secular administrative governance, exhibits much similarity between the two schools of thought; which are that the leader must assume the role of a sovereign, purely, on behalf of whom such power lies, who are the general mass of the citizenry, govern the people fairly, justly and under the rule of the law. Perhaps, the basic difference being, while Islamic jurisprudence confers leadership power without the privilege of immunity, the western oriented jurisprudence protect leadership with such immunity from prosecution, though to be fair to the latter, doctrine of immunity is not much a theological origination, rather, it is merely a relic of the monarchical benevolence of the middle ages, when the “king does no wrong to his subjects’, howsoever way he might have acted to their detriment.
Many people would be justified, wondering where I am going in this premise of thought, well, it was in the past few days, the Boko Haram insurgency movement captured the town of Gwoza and proclaimed it an Islamic caliphate, obviously a warped attempt at revivalist insurrection to create an Islamic state within a secular Nigerian state. What I am interested in exploring is whether the leaders of the two sides to the conflict see themselves as true sovereigns, for the highly destructive rebels, does the legality of capturing a territory and proclaiming sovereignty over it, matches the need for having the legitimacy of gaining the acceptance of the people and on this, the evolution of the Sokoto Caliphate into an administrative unit serves as an exemplary grace, because, unlike what many historians thought, it was nothing more than an uprising of the poor, the victimized and the oppressed, as such, in places like Kano, not much conflict happened, as the people simply shoved the unjust emirs aside and chose a new leader, albeit a Fulani ruler but were they not integral members of the community.
It is instructive to note that the ‘conquered’ people were hardly terrorized into submission, unlike the present scenario, where gruesome violence has become the signature image of the Boko Haram rebellion in the North East. The other issue with the declaratory pronouncement is the fact it is a contradiction by itself, because, the statement proclaimed support to the Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The problem though is doing so makes Abubakar Shekau a renegade, as a true Islamic caliphate can only have one leader all over the world, who is the vice gerent and a sovereign, besides, if the one ruled by Bagdadi is limited to Iraq by nomenclature, a non Iraqi Muslim cannot lay claim to being a citizen, despite the fact he or she constitutes the body of the Umma or Islamic citizenry.
This takes me back to the toddler years and my sojourn at Quranic School, when a question that was asked have remained ingrained in my memory, it was an enquiry which as we thought bordered on blasphemy and it was made to one of our cane wielding teachers but it only elicited a short and mild answer. Actually, the inquiry was made at the Tauheed classes, which is the concept of Monotheism in Islam or the ‘Doctrine of Oneness’ of God, when a pupil asked why there are no two Gods, the answer that came was sharp and crisp; it is because their cannot be two sovereigns in a single jurisdictional universe and that God is highly jealous of his powers and does not share or cede territory to any force of power. It is the premise upon which modern, western and secular concept of sovereignty was built, which is that a head of state of a nation never shares or cedes his or her sovereign powers.
Upon this, the question that immediately comes to mind is whether the Nigerian president as a sovereign, is ‘jealous’ of the fallen and ceded territories of Gwoza, Gamboru Ngala and others, not in terms of chivalrous proclamations from afar but even a mere proactive symbolism of a national speech or in the extreme case, an impromptu appearance at the thick of the battle zone, which assures the bewildered national citizenry, most especially, the general population of the captured territory, that indeed he is their legitimate leader.
Suwiad wrote from firstname.lastname@example.org
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