There is no doubt that Dr. Datti Ahmed is a very important personality in Islam and in the Nigerian socio political setting, donning a patriotic toga. His importance and relevance on these two fronts is firmly rooted.
On the socio political front, it is on record that he contested the position of Presidency in the second republic, making him to be conversant with the leadership burden and of course, the Nigerian situation.
This became so, realizing the fact that he expectedly traversed the length and breadth of this country in the process of seeking for vote.
And on religious front, Dr. Datti is believed to be well-read not only in the Qur’an as is usual with an average Kano person, but also in all the Islamic religious jurisprudence.
The advantage he has by being one of the few Nigerians whom the government and top hierarchy of Boko Haram simultaneously trust to represent them on each side of the divide, stands him out too, on another count.
Dr. Datti was one of the 26 eminent Nigerians who President Goodluck Jonathan named on Wednesday last week on a committee, charged with drawing up the modalities for the granting of amnesty to Boko Haram. Conversely, he was also one of the few Nigerians who top notchers of Boko Haram named last year to negotiate with government on their behalf.
Such privileged position on both sides makes Dr. Datti a kind of special personality among his peers.
But, he seemed uncomfortable to serve on the 26-member Presidential committee and said so by rejecting his membership.
In declining to serve on the committee, Dr. Datti said that the government did not appear to be sincere. His reason was that President Jonathan’s government had earlier reneged on promises by the government, following the recommendations made by the first reconcilliatory committee he chaired to mediate between Boko Haram and the government.
Of course, no one would fault Dr. Datti in being skeptical about the sincerity of the government to implement the outcome of the committee on amnesty, whose membership he had rejected, citing also, the composition of the membership of the committee.
However, Dr. Datti might have deliberately or unknowingly misunderstood a few points in rejecting the offer to serve on the committee which is part of the efforts being made by all well-meaning Nigerians to find a lasting solution to the insurgency that had claimed thousands of innocent lives of Nigerians over the last three years.
He may not be faulted, however, in thinking and even concluding that the government might not implement the outcome of the amnesty committee, taking a cue from an earlier move he made, along with others. His may be a confirmation of an old saying that once beaten twice shy.
But in a matter of national importance: a matter that involves mass losses of innocent lives and properties, one is almost certain that Dr. Datti knows very well that every sacrifice that is available, even the improbable ones, need to be thoroughly explored. We are here talking about humanity generally, not religion.
Besides, as a confirmed Islamic scholar, it is also almost certain that Dr. Datti knows the Islamic religious injunction that forbids Muslims from casting an “assumption” on fellow human being (zeto zunubi) or rushing to conclusion on a matter that has not been started. Assuming that Jonathan government would not implement the recommendations of a committee that has not yet been inaugurated falls within such “assumption” or rushing to conclusion.
Yes, the Jonathan government might have earlier failed to implement some recommendations he made, as adjuncts to ending Boko Haram, but the question is was the circumstance under which such thing happened the same as the one now being presented?
Is it not the same President Jonathan who, last month made it clear in Yobe and Borno states that he would not grant amnesty to Boko Haram that has now set out to grant amnesty?
Dr. Datti knows as much as other well-bred leaders in this country that the only thing that is permanent is change: that leaders, and of course, human beings are conditioned to change all the times. Or, at least, make mistakes.
Using the past action of a person to judge his present or even predict his tomorrow is not fair, especially, in a matter that needs the contributions of individuals and groups.
As a matter of fact, if Dr. Datti had chosen to accept the offer to serve on the committee, he would only have been answering the national call to service to the father land, thereby engraving his name subsequently in gold, even if his best did not produce satisfactory result, through an act of man or by natural evolution of human life.
His rejection of the offer to serve the nation in what, to him, looks an insignificant committee or what seems far from his perception that borders largely on religion, is certainly not the way to patriotism. And as I knew Dr. Datti in the 80’s, he is never known to be in that light. Except, like I said, if he has changed!