Some few days ago, the National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, gave a press release attributing the attacks against Christians nationwide by Islamic extremists and extremist members of the security outfit, on three immediate factors:
1. The doctrine of hatred that was used to indoctrinate Almajiris in the various Islamic Madrassas in the North where Muslims were deliberately taught to hate Christians and people of other faiths.
2. The concept of “sacred space” in which Islamists believe, for example, that the road leading to their mosque belongs exclusively to them. The “sacred space” concept is applied to every area in which Islamism has travelled. The belief is that all land on earth has been given by Allah to Muslims and it is theirs by right, to stage a Jihad to retake them.
3. The result of one Nation operating two political systems of Democracy and Sharia.
As solution to the problem, NCEF called on all Christian leaders to meet urgently with the Vice President, Pastor Yemi Osibanjo SAN as Chairman for a holistic response to the relentless attacks. Then to meet with Muslim leaders.
You see, I respect the concern these Christian Elders are showing over these barbarity by Islamic extremists against Christians. However, I want to draw our attention to some other factors that NCEF might be overlooking or chose to overlook. The rush to collect loans from IDB by northern governors should have been seen ab-initio for what they represent and should have been discouraged. Any loan from an Islamic Development Bank is to advance Islam; and the way to advance Islam might not be necessary through ‘Daawah’ and incentives like Sir Ahmadu Bello did in the 60s resulting to the action of the five majors, but through terrorism and violence. We have heard how Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna state claimed that the population of Christians in the state is 30% – making the state to appear ‘loanable’ to any Islamic Development Bank. After the governor’s statement, many Christian boys were murdered in the state by yet to be apprehended Muslim boys; a Christian husband was murdered by his wife’s Muslim lover in Ungwan Yero Malali; etc.
If NCEF believe the extremists are few, they are mistaken as the extremists are the politicians we see today at both local and national levels and the influence they wield across the country on their poor populace is enormous.
To fight against terrorism is to decimate the extremist politicians. Ironically, extremists don’t die; they multiply.
Alternatively and reliably is fighting terrorism by outlawing the use of religion during campaigns by politicians. This will force politicians to focus more on productive thinking for national integration and development. It will force politicians to think more on best approaches to development devoid of religious sentiments as they prepare their manifestos and to submit their political manifestos for vetting and to see to it that no religious elements are found in it. They won’t have religion as a cover for their ineptitude anymore.
The use of religion as a political tool is only creating rooms for hypocrites, charlatans, mediocres and their ilks to thrive and destroy the political system and consequently the country like we are currently witnessing in Nigeria today. This is because rascals and dubious persons, who have no respect for the religion they profess, find it conveniently expedient to hide behind religion to campaign to be elected and thereby fan the fires of division and hatred in a multi-religious society like ours.
The other day when folk were frowning over my update of Squealer’s property, one Ijohn Yem boasted that I was not more pro-PDP than he was. Whoever told him I was a pro-PDP or was in any competition with him as to who is more this or that, I don’t know. The moment you begin to frown at repressive policies of this government or go against the system based on your personal conviction, you risk being tagged pro-PDP by the government and by even people who should know better, thus reducing your patriotic inclination to cheap political agitation – this is indeed ridiculous. If PDP were to be a religion now and I and this guy were contesting for a coveted seat, perhaps I will try to show the electorate that I am more pro-PDP than he is. Such rivalry, coupled with our do or die politics are the breeding ground for extremism and consequently terrorism. This is exactly how it works where politicians are involving religion as a weapon for political battles.
The reason military rule was relatively peaceful was the absence of such sectarian campaigns. The few religious extremists in the army back then were the ones fuelling Tiv-Jukun, Ijaw-Tshekiri, Zangon Kataf, etc crises and the same breed have returned to power in civil clothes, but did so through preaching extremism.
Another way out is to see to it that only nationalists secure offices like that of the president, the senate president, the speaker house of representatives, and whoever is the final authority for the judiciary. When I say nationalists, I mean men and women whose track records in both deeds and speeches has never shown them to be nepotists, cronyists, ethnic chauvinists nor religious bigots. Their rewards for being neutral in the face of pressing primordial sentiments, is to saddle them with national assignments. Those who expose their sectionalist traits should be saddled with sectional assignments. This is the only way to sustain the unity of this country, as sectionalists handling national offices will only provoke sectional sentiments in other sections of the country.
This is why the idea of meeting Osibanjo as advocated by NCEF is faulty even though it is the only rational thing to do. The reason is simple – Mr. President is a sectionalist and not a nationalist and Osibanjo reports to the sectionalist president. Buhari became the president by fanning the flames of ethnic and religious differences in the country. He made many divisive and inflammatory statements in the pasts. It was only natural to punish him by seeing to it that he never becomes president of this nation, but there was terrorism and fulani menace to contend with and he promised to end both, thus rational minds reluctantly voted him in not knowing he was coming in to institutionalise terrorism.
After becoming president, he made it clear how he became president by his 95% to 5% speech and didn’t hide his intention to continue on that divisive path that gave him victory. For rewarding such a sectionalist with the presidency of this country is to institutionalise sectionalism and that’s exactly what Nigerians did in 2015. Terrorism has escalated under Buhari’s watch going by the happenings all over and his refusal to give justice to one and all. When we complain of marginalisation and economic woes, the body language of those in Aso Rock is: ‘you should be grateful we let you live. Something like; give us the government and allow us to govern as we like in exchange for your right to live. Stop complaining about our misgovernance and start thanking God that we are magnanimous enough to let you live.’ That is the prevailing sentiment in Aso Rock today.
People like Mr. President should best be senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Katsina and worse be district heads of Daura, but certainly not the president of a multi-ethnic cum multi-religious clime like Nigeria. Having people like the sectionalist Mr. President as president is why we have sectionalist agitation springing up all over the country: the IPOB, the NDA, the Middlebelt Agitation and even the OPC etc. A nationalist as president will not provoke such sectional uprisings. Expectedly, the only response the Sectionalist Mr. President has for all such agitations is violence. While his fulanis are mauling down people in the middlebelt without a single show of concern from him, he is setting up a special military unit to combat cattle rustlers for his fulanis and had to wear military kit up for the first time ever – not for anything but for battle against cattle rustlers while his kinsmen slaughter other Nigerians. His army are deployed to shoot down peaceful protesters in the southeast as pockets of Christians continue to witness barbaric slaughter in the hands of irate Muslims like the recent murder of an evangelist in Kubwa, slaughter of a CAN chairman’s wife in Kano, slaughter of a CAN chairman in Nassarawa, abduction of reverend sisters and fathers and the murder of some, attack on a church in Madalla by irate Muslim mob, etc. The list is too long. Unless sectionalists like Mr. President are restricted to sectional politics and nationalists like…. be allowed to run this country, we may continue to see such. And both Christians and moderate Muslims must brace up to the challenges of having sectionalists in power.