BY SOLOMON ASEMOTA SAN,
CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL CHRISTIAN ELDERS’ FORUM (NCEF)
Most Nigerians especially adherents of Christianity and Islam believe that the Berlin Conference of 1885 which partitioned Africa and the British government that in 1914 amalgamated the two Nigerias, both served as the two arms of God to bring Nigerians (indigenes and Arab immigrants) together as one people united for peace, harmony and progress and destined Nigeria to become the giant and light of Africa.
The reality however is different. Partition and amalgamation took place but the result produced educated and brilliant Nigerians in the positive side and Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen (the offshoot of Islamism introduced to the country by the military) on the negative side. But all is not lost, if the country can unite and begin with the unity of Christians without interference from the Islamists, Nigeria may yet become the giant of Africa.
There are some basic facts that must be told concerning our country which are responsible for disunity:
- It was mainly Nigerian “Christian South” that demanded for independence and, later Muslim North joined; this did not please the British colonialists and, as a result, the British arranged a transition to independence that was devoid of unity and cohesion.
- The British loathed the Christian South because the educated Christians frustrated assimilation by the colonial elite in contrast to the co-operation of the Emirs as shown by the introduction of Indirect Rule.
- In the then Southern and Northern Nigeria, white colonial civil servants hated themselves resulting from recruitment and educational qualification and this hatred continued till this day and subsists as the legacy bequeathed by colonial civil servants to Nigerians in the Northern public service.
- It would be recalled that the Colonial Government set up the Coker Commission of Inquiry in 1952 that found the Action Group (A.G.) being financed by the Western Regional Marketing Board. In 1958, the Fuster-Sutton Commission of Inquiry was set up to inquire into the source of funding of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) by the Africa Continental Bank (ACB). Both Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe were found culpable but no such Commission of Inquiry was set up with respect to funds used to promote the World Muslim League for which the Sardauna of Sokoto toured the Islamic world and helped to establish. This does not justify the conducts of Awolowo and Azikiwe but highlights the double standards of the British.
- The Civil War was fought mainly by Christians against Christians, the objectives were clear: to keep Nigeria one, it lasted for three years and ended with the “no victor no vanquished” mantra even though the Muslim North later claimed victory and treated the South (not just Nd’igbo) as the vanquished. This treatment progressed to Northern Christians.
- The war against insurgency that began over ten years ago was declared won by President Buhari early this year. The objectives of both the insurgents and Nigerian Government have remained obscure – the insurgents want an Islamist State but the Nigerian Government has refrained from opposing Sharia, which is the Constitution of an Islamic State. In the circumstance, inter-denominational squabbles and disunity cannot be helpful to Christians and Nigeria.
Action Speaks louder than Voice
In mid July 2016, the FG made strategic appointments which suggest that Nigeria can only be effectively secured through the use of “Northerners” especially the Hausa/Fulani as the appointment outlined below suggests:
Inspector General of Police (IGP); Chief of Army Staff; Minister for Defense; Minister for Internal Affairs; National Security Adviser (NSA); Director/General, Department of State Services (DSS); Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp; Chief Security Officer to the President; Principal Secretary to the President; Private Secretary to the President; Protocol Officer to the President; Director-General Customs; Director-General, Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC); Director-General, Nigeria Prisons; Director-General, Immigration; Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Minister for Federal Capital Territory (FCT); with President Buhari as President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
Police Officers Announced as New AIGs:
AIG Zone 1; AIG Zone 2 AIG zone 3; AIG Investment Formation; AIG Special Protection Unit; AIG National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Jos. It is notable that State CPs were also promoted to AIG bringing the total to 18 new AIGs. These appointments cannot be said to conform with the Constitutional provisions of Federal Character. The question that comes to one’s mind is whether a war between Northern and Southern Nigeria is being contemplated after 56 years of independence as one cannot find the rationale for the one-sided appointments in the leadership of security and intelligence arms of government. The Constitution of Nigeria provides for a single Police Force to serve the whole country, yet there are Sharia Police in Sharia States. In the establishment of a Civil Defence Corps with a mandate for the protection of the citizens during an emergency, Civil Defence officers in Nigeria are combatants with powers of the Military and Police combined. Head of National Assembly/Senate President; Head, Federal Courts of Appeal; All Registrars and Principal Officers at all Levels of the Federal Judiciary; Clerk of the National Assembly are all Muslims (Northerners). Judges are woken up in the middle of the night and threatened by armed officials on allegations of corruption. A combination of all the above, suggest an evolution of an Islamist State (not a Democratic State) as provided for by the 1999 Constitution. The Christian Elders’ appreciation of the situation is that administrative persuasion is being replaced by direct force and therefore non-Northerners and Christians cannot be trusted to be part of the Presidential instrument of rule with respect to internal security in a country where Christians constitute over 50% of the population,
Indirect Rule and Domination
In 1914, indirect rule was a method of domination and, today, “indirect rule” is being practised in such a way to ensure Fulani dominance of the rest of Nigeria. In 1906, Lugard described indirect rule thus: “a single government in which the Native Chiefs well-defined duties and an acknowledged status equal to the British officials”. [Africa under Colonial Domination 1880 – 1935 pg. 318] Some Nigerians today, still cherish this status and regard themselves as successors to British officials and British crown. Independent Nigeria is subordinated to “indirect rule”, Christian disunity helps to maintain indirect rule. Lugard also wrote, “I believe myself that the future of the virile races of this Protectorate lies largely in the regeneration of the Fulani. Their ceremonies, their colored skins; their mode of life and habits of thought, appeal more to the native population than the prosaic business-like habits of the Anglo-Saxon can ever do. Nor have we the means at present to administer so vast a country. This, then, is the policy to which, in my view, the administration of Northern Nigeria should give effect, viz, to regenerate this capable race and mould them to ideas of justice and mercy, so that in the future generation if not in this, they may become worthy instruments of rule. My desire to utilize the Fulani as rulers has been described in a former Report and has met with the approval of the Secretary of State. They are unfit at present to exercise power except under supervision; nor do I hope for any great success in the present generation, but I hope and believe that with careful guidance, their sons and grandsons will form invaluable rulers under British supervision, and that their superior intelligence can be developed as a useful asset in our administration. [Challenges of Good and Democratic Governance in Nigeria edited by Dakas CJ Dakas pg. 341]” Today, Fulani herdsmen do not appeal to the people and, all races in Nigeria including 389 Ethnic Nationalities have been molded through education, Christianity and Islam to form invaluable rulers. The Fulani is only one of God’s gifts to Nigeria.
Dare Babarinsa’s book titled One Day and a Story, narrated that “in a lecture Shehu Malami, delivered to members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), in August 1985, that he (Malami) claimed that Dasuki was not even qualified to contest for the job, not being a direct descendant of Mohammed Bello, the first Caliph of the Sokoto Caliphate and son of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio”. Muhammadu Buhari is regarded as more qualified for the office of the Sultan of Sokoto because he is “one of the children of (Dan Fodio), whose mother was Aishatu Gabdo, Muhammadu Buhari’s descendants are based in Tambuwal Sifawa and Dogon Daji, where they are the district head,” he told the youth corps members deployed to Sokoto. “Although (Dasuki) also originated from Usman Dan Fodio, they have never, throughout the history of the caliphate, produced a single sultan.” [Pg. 133]
If President Muhammadu Buhari is the one referred above, Christians, can now understand why provisions of the Constitution are ignored or regarded as of little consequence and, why his government is tilting towards dictatorship or a sultanate. Christians have the number, the spread with unity, Christians can influence the future conduct of Muhammadu Buhari as President of Nigeria to shape and direct the affairs of Nigeria in line with freedom and democracy.
That We may be One
In the epilogue of the book titled A History of the Church in Africa Bengt Sundekler and Christopher Steed wrote “an embarrassing problem throughout the modern period has been the tension between Catholic and Protestant missions, a tension which the ecumenically inclined writer has perhaps tended to tone down. Vatican II brought new conditions and new hope. A spin-off of Catholic-Protestant competition was the increased scope for educational advance, in the number of schools, and in educational quality.” [pg. 1039] As a result of this fact, we must rekindle the Christian love and affection exhibited in 1903 when the Holy Ghost congregation led by Reverend Father Gaboon met the Obi of Onitsha to ask for land to begin his missionary work. The Obi replied he would “be happy to grant him a site on the river bank but for the fact that the area had already been given to Bishop Crowther. He suggested that since Crowther was not using the land he might be willing to let Lutz have it. Lutz went to see Crowther, who readily agreed. I received this land for the cause of God', he said and magnanimously take it.” [Emphasis supplied] [The Second Burial of Bishop Shanahan Desmond Forristal pgs. 43-44] This spirit should be extended to and by all denominations in present day Nigeria threatened by Islamism, Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.
Pope Francis as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, participated in a gathering of Roman Catholics and evangelism Christians and the following occurred “from the stage, a pastor calls out for the city’s archbishop to come up and say a few words. The audience reacts with surprise, because the man striding to the front had been sitting in the back all this time, for hours, like no one of any importance. Though a cardinal, he is not wearing the traditional pectoral cross around his neck, just a black clerical shirt and a blazer, looking like the simple priest he was decades ago. He is gaunt and elderly with a somber countenance --- He speaks—quietly at first, though with steady nerves—in his native tongue, Spanish. He has no notes. The archbishop makes no mention of the days when he regarded the evangelical movement in the dismissive way many Latin American Catholic priests do, --- “How nice,” he says, “that brothers are united, that brothers pray together. How nice to see that nobody negotiates their history on the path of faith—that we are diverse but that we want to be, and are already beginning to be, a reconciled diversity.” Hands outstretched, his face suddenly alive, and his voice quavering with passion, he calls out to God: “Father, we are divided. Unite us!” [Will the Pope Change the Vatican? Or Will the Vatican Change the Pope? National Geographic August 2015] One has no doubt that this can also happen in Nigeria, when Church leaders are reminded of the humility of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
It is the prayers of the NCEF and our hope that God would answer this prayer so that Nigeria will be free from Islamism, their cohorts and proxies who constitute the “demons” not in Aso Villa but in the South end of Aso drive outside of the Villa.
“The Church is one because of her source: 'the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.' The Church is one because of her founder: for 'the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, ... restoring the unity of all in one people and one body. The Church is one because of her (soul': 'It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity.' Unity is of the essence of the Church” [Catechism of the Catholic Church pg. 188 Acl 813] No true Christian would want to challenge this doctrine in order to promote Islam over and above other Christian denominations for unexplained reasons. This challenge cannot be sustained.
One notes quite clearly that Western schools and educational quality cannot be responsible for the rivalry between Christian blocs and denominations in Nigeria. We, Christian Elders believe there is more to it and especially the surge of Islamism facilitated by excessive greed and Security Votes. In any case, we need to imagine the benefit Nigerians as a people, will derive from a united Church, which, most certainly, will include the defeat of Islamist Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. Unity will promote peace and, above all, integrate Nigerians as one people.
Implementation of Sharia in Stages
The techniques employed by Islamism in the implementation of Sharia as directed by the Muslim Brotherhood include with respect to Nigeria: Expanding the Muslim presence by birth rate (this explains why a prominent Islamist Doctor suggested that polio vaccination was a form of birth control) immigration of non-Nigerian Fulani and Kanuri to the country as Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen; Refusal to be assimilated by way of Democracy; Occupying and expanding domination of physical spaces (Grazing Reserve); Ensuring the “Muslim Communities” know and follow Muslim Brotherhood doctrine; Controlling the language Islamists use in describing the enemy (Christians and Jews); Ensuring Islamists do not study another ideology outside Sharia; Co-opting local key leadership; Forcing compliance with Sharia at local levels; Fighting all counter-terrorism efforts; Subverting religious organizations (such as CAN); Employing lawfare - the offensive use of lawsuits and threats of lawsuits; Claiming victimization/demanding accommodations; Condemning “slander” against Islam; Subverting the Nigeria education system, in particular, infiltrating and dominating student union activities; Demanding the right to practice Sharia in segregated Muslim states; Demanding recognition of Sharia in non-Muslim Nigeria; Confronting and denouncing Western society, laws, and traditions; and Demanding that Sharia replace Western law. Note that many of the foregoing techniques entail, in one way or another, influencing and neutralizing the Nigerian government and Constitution at all levels. [Shariah: The Threat to America pg. 75] Implementation of Sharia has rendered the 1999 Constitution confusing with one part representing Democracy and another Sharia especially the provisos in Chapter IV on Human Rights and Chapter VII on the Judicature. There is the need for the Supreme Court to interpret the 1999 Constitution vis-à-vis Democracy and Common Law principles, some Christian lawyers are in the process of demanding the correct interpretation of the Nigerian Constitution as/an instrument for Democracy.
Implementation of Sharia in stages by the Federal Government explains some issues as it relates to the Vice President of Nigeria a Christian, who was not part of the Transition from Jonathan to Buhari. Instead a founding member of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) was saddled with the responsibility. CAN is systematically being destroyed from within by some of its very important members. This seem to explain why Christian Pastors and Priests still uphold the colonial law of not proselytizing in Muslim areas of Nigeria as it would appear to be lucrative not to proselytize in these areas. This is, in addition, to the rise in deaths as happened in Kano and Abuja. Those who promote the above directive of avoidance of Muslim areas are handsomely rewarded from Security Votes. Christians must be organized to be able to dismantle Islamist proxies among the Christian fold, who work to support policies that promote Islamism and Sharia as a source of legislation. Today, the enemy is the Shiite, tomorrow, it could be the Christian. We must remember that the celebration of Corpus Christi was discouraged in Abuja some years back.
Christian Handicap and Cultural Difference
1. Although it is said that Nigeria has about 40 political parties, all are controlled by the intelligence agency set up to promote Islamism by the military, right to vote but not voted for;
2. Christians are under-represented in the National Assembly and Bills that reduce Christian interests and participation are hastily passed while Bills that promote Christian interests are dead on arrival;
3. We, Christians must use our best judgment to promote equality and unity in this age of Islamism and inequality, to do so, Christians must come together under CAN as the last line of defence, as all political parties in the country are frightened or scared of being identified with Christianity;
4. The month of November witnessed two cultural events of significance. These were the coronation of the 40th Oba of Benin and the 10th Anniversary celebration of the 20th Sultan of Sokoto. Benin existed as a Kingdom before the 15th Century. It would be wrong to attempt to subject the Benin Kingdom to the Sokoto Caliphate. Mutual respect of various cultures must be nurtured to protect the plurality of the country. Other traditional rulers should not be seen or regarded as extensions of the Caliphate;
The unity of Nigeria is very much hinged on the unity of Christians in the country. Statements such as “CAN is sourcing for funds to build a Christian army to fight the Muslims” suggest persons paid to rundown Christian religion in Nigeria just as when one is asked “in whose interest one acts and where one’s authority originates” suggest the deliberate attempt to limit the genuine efforts to unite Christians. In the Nigerian situation and with the threat Islamism, Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, no Christian, Church or Church group should regard itself as “the only true Church”. This should be left for the Heavens to determine. Christians must not allow love for money and fame to sabotage their religion in the unholy promotion of Islamism. We must all learn from the history of Christianity.
Christians must try as much as possible to sever Churches and Church groups from the apron strings of Federal and State Governments for the promotion and development of Christianity in Nigeria such financial assistance is only a fraction of what goes to the other major religion. We must ensure that Nigeria remains a Secular State. Any security fund paid to any Church or Christian leader is recorded and may be used to silence or entrap such a leader or Church, therefore, we must all resist the temptation of being blackmailed by the intelligence service.
Based on the above, Christian unity is essential to Nigeria’s Democracy with Rule of Law to develop Nigeria’s values that will, inevitably, bring peace, prosperity and happiness to all Nigerians - Christians, Muslims, Animists and visitors.
November 22, 2016