Nigeria: Welcoming Back Our Politicians Who Went On Umrah

03 August 2016

By A.S.M. Jimoh

This year holy month of Ramadan took again, as usual, hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, prominent among them politicians, to visit the holy lands - Makkah and Madinah - to perform the lesser pilgrimage - Umrah. Umrah is highly recommended in the month of Ramadan for those who can afford it. Its reward is like that for one who has performed the Hajj. So, it is not surprising seeing millions of faithful trooping to the holy lands every year to observe this reward-filled journey.

While on the holy journey and in the holy lands, besides obeying Allah's command, many spiritual lessons are to be learnt. Amongst which are the unity of the Ummah and invocation for peace across the world. It is a journey intended for the complete transformation of anyone who embarks on it.

For Nigerian politicians who have made this an annual ritual, beyond the spiritual lessons, there are lessons of governance which they can also learn from the lands that host the spiritual sites. Year in, year out they should have noticed the infrastructural transformation they are confronted with every time they visit the Kingdom.

Beginning with the very sites for religious rituals, the two holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah, they should have noticed that these two imposing, grand structures are always neat, tidy and organized. Cleaners compete with worshipers in their effort to make the place habitable. Even with millions of worshippers ever present, the facilities for convenience are always fit for human use. Yet, for many of our politicians, the structures of institutions they run back home are filthy, decrepit and disorganized. Most ministry buildings are barely functional. The majority is without toilets and running waters. Thus, the serene and neatness of the holy sites should be a first lesson for our politicians.

Still within the Haramain area, the constancy of electricity may not have gone unnoticed by our politicians. Putting it in our own way of speaking, light is two-four. The electricity at the holy sites does not only provide light, but also daily runs one of the most powerful air-conditioning systems. As at the end of 2015, the power consumption at the holy sites alone was above 15,000 MW. The capacity of the power plants around these sites stands at nearly 19,000 MW. Such a feat is possible because the Saudi political class - okay, you say monarchical class - does not pocket the money for development while building private mansions all over the place. Even though there are wild allegations of corruption against the ruling house, they have not deprived the citizens the right to basics and essential of life which have become so prized here in Nigeria due to our politicians' unexplained corruption. It's a shame that more than 100 years after the first electricity plant was installed in Nigeria, we have not gone beyond an erratic 5000 MW in spite of the huge resources claimed to have sunk into it.

Our politicians may also have enjoyed free health services during their stay in the Kingdom. They should have witnessed firsthand the tidiness of clinics and their environs. They were not repelled by the stench as they approach the clinics for consultation. The feeling of wellness they get when they approach pharmaceutical shops and clinics and the all-time availability of ambulance service would definitely marvel our politicians. They would truly confess that this was a far departure from what is obtainable in our clime. After enjoying free and quality health service in the Kingdom, it should have bene one of the things our politicians put in his Umrah cart before travelling back home.

Most of our politicians who arrive the Kingdom may have done so through the King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah. I wonder how our politicians see this airport and still go back to claim that we have an international airport. None of the so-called airports in Nigeria should be worthy of the name after seeing this and some of the others across the Kingdom. If only our politicians have any shame left in them. It is neat, organized, expansive and imposing. It has undergone expansions and modernization several times without noise. The ruling class does not invent terms such as modeling and remodeling while the airports remain rustic, decrepit and eyesores to visitors. Most of our airports greet you with stench and stale air as you arrive therein.

The roads leading from the airports to holy sites and those connecting the holy sites and cities would have been taken by our politicians in the course of their spiritual journey. It is either that they took the three lanes, sometimes expanding to 4 or 5 lanes-60-km-long road connecting Jeddah and Makkah. If they had travel to Madinah on road, the triple lane, 450-km-long Medina-Makkah flawless road would likely look a piece of wonder to our politicians. Year in, year out our politicians travel these roads in the course of their spiritual journey and every time they come, they find these roads better and well maintained. Yet they have not learnt to replicate same back in their various home states. Do they not feel awe at how roads can be this so smooth and motorable without potholes? Maybe they would need to travel on the 3-lanes, 1400-km-long Dammam-Makkah road or the 900-km-long Madinah-Riyadh road for them to learn that building motorable roads is not a rocket science.

Besides the water of Zamzam, our politicians and all other pilgrims in the holy land drink various brands of bottled water during their stay in the Kingdom. They and all other Nigerian pilgrims would testify that Saudi Arabia, with its arid land and highly salty seawater, has more healthy branded bottled water than Nigeria with many rivers and shallow water tables. Saudi Arabia has no any source of sweet water, yet the amount of water in the Kingdom for millions of people daily is sufficient, healthy and high-quality. In a country where over 20 million worshippers wash their bodies at least five times daily to attend to religious rituals, it has nevertheless been able to make water available to the reach of every individual, including those in the remotest of deserts. After many years of coming to the Kingdom to drink good water, I think it is time for our politicians to learn that providing water for the citizens is an act of religion. The Prophet (SAW), in one of the hadiths reported by Imam Ahmad (RA), is quoted to have said, ''The best charity is giving water to drink''. Provision of potable water remains the biggest problem in most Nigeria cities and towns in spite of the numerous rivers and the low-water tables that surround us, which could easily have been harnessed. For our politicians trooping to pilgrimage annually, it is time to be ashamed that water is such in abundance in a desert while the people who live by rivers wash their hand with spittle.

Dear Nigerian politicians, I welcome you from this year's Umrah. Before you embark on the next one, please replicate at least one of the things you have seen in the Kingdom. Kindly learn a lesson form your journey.

Thank you.

A.S.M. Jimoh can be reached at and followed on Twitter at @anehi2008.



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