NATIONAL CHRISTIAN ELDERS FORUM
Today, the Nigerian nation is embroiled in a myriad of crisis ranging from poverty to insecurity, economic dysfunction, unemployment figures of titanic proportion, broken down public infrastructure and institutions, lethargic sense of nationalism amongst the citizens, basic distrust and suspicion amongst the federating units, terrible international image, and so on and so forth. Nigeria is fast becoming a failed state but it would be unfair to hold Nigerians wholly responsible for the mess that the nation has found itself. A good understanding of the Nigerian chaos would start from the foundation of the nation.
The British government deliberately and intentionally laid the foundation for the crisis that has been rocking the nation since 1960. Before independence, the clarion call in the Colonial Office was, “we must not let the North down”. By the North, the British refer to the Muslim North, and in particular, the islamists. (Nevertheless, to counter Islamism, Willinks, QC, provided Human Rights provision in the Independence Constitution of 1960 which have remained part of our Constitution till date. This implies that the British themselves are aware of the brutality of the islamists.)
Oliver Lyttleton, the Secretary of State for the Colonies wrote on 17th August, 1953 “… we cannot let the North down. They are more than half the population, more attached to the British and trustful of the colonial service than the other two.”
The successor of Lyttleton, Alan Tindale Lennox-Boyd, stated on 17th November, 1954,
“My main concern, like yours, at the moment is about the attitude of the North. My predecessor made it abundantly clear at both the London and Lagos Conferences that Her Majesty’s Government would not, (repeat not) let the North down.”
In its ungodly determination to appoint the Islamists as neo-colonialists over the other federating units in Nigeria, the British government violated every tenet of decency and fairness when it declared, in the minutes of London Conference prepared by M. E. Allen, assistant Undersecretary Commonwealth Office and A. W. Snelling, assistant Undersecretary of State, on 21st October, 1958, that:
“Nevertheless, so far as the United Kingdom is concerned, it would appear that in the last resort, we must make sure that the Government of Nigeria is strong even if, possibly, undemocratic or unjust”
This unfortunate statement was repeated in 1962 at a meeting held by R.S. Hudson, E. R. Hammer and C. A. G. Wallis, all of the Colonial Office that:
“… So far as the United Kingdom is concerned, it must make sure that the government of Nigeria is strong, even if possible, undemocratic or unjust.”
Mr. Solomon Asemota, SAN (Chairman), Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (rtd), Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (rtd), Dr. (Mrs) Kate Okpareke, Dr. Ayo Abifarin, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri, Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Nat Okoro, Prof. Vincent Anigbogu, Gen. Ishaku Dikko (rtd), Justice Kalajine Anigbogu (rtd), Elder Shyngle Wigwe, DIG P. L. Dabup, Sir John W. Bagu, Dr. Saleh Hussaini, Elder Mike Orobator, Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, Dr. Musa Asake, Barr. Joseph Daramola, Pastor Bosun Emmanuel (Secretary)
On this tripod of injustice, inequality, and unfairness, Britain placed Nigeria. The census figures were falsified by the British in favor of the North, the election was rigged in favor of the North; even the Police Force was skewed to acquiesce to the demand of the North. Against all norms of fairness and equity, the British refused to carve out a Middle Belt Region in the North while the South was divided in 1939 and later, further divided by Balewa through the establishment of the Mid-West Region in 1963.
As if the bias of the British in favor of the islamists was not enough, the beneficiaries of the tripod of injustice, inequality, and unfairness, the islamists, believe, 55 years after independence, that the status quo of the imbalance must remain in perpetuity. Today, the islamists have legalized murder in Nigeria as they kill and maim without pity, without compassion, without facing arrest, without prosecution. Since independence, they have adopted the attitude of the new colonial masters while seeking to relegate the remaining ethnic groups to sub-citizens or dhimmi (second class citizens) status.
Ideological conflict is pivotal to Nigeria’s lack of growth. At independence, the impression was created that “all” Nigerians accepted Liberal Democracy as the national ideology. Unknowingly to the rest of the nation, the Muslim North preferred a system of government of which an essential ingredient is Islamic law. Since independence, sponsors of Sharia Islamic law have been working surreptitiously to undermine democracy and make Sharia the national ideology and the nation an Islamic state.
In the 1999 Constitution, which was foisted on the country by a Muslim Military Dictator from the North, Nigeria has two conflicting ideologies, Liberal Democracy and Sharia, pulling the nation in opposite directions. The effect of the two ideologies on the nation has been negative as resources and manpower are wasted in the struggle for supremacy of Sharia’s “invisible government” over the Constitution. It is clear that for a multi–cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious society, the best option that can accommodate the divergent groups in the nation is Liberal Democracy which gives each citizen equal right and freedom of expression and religious conviction. Any attempt to impose Sharia as an ideology in Nigeria will spell disaster for the nation.
In recent past, these ideological struggles have assumed violent dimension with the advent of Boko Haram. This Islamic insurgent group, bent on making the entire nation Sharia compliant is responsible for over 15,000 deaths in Nigeria since it launched its attacks and has vowed not to stop until either the nation adopts Sharia or all of its fighters are annihilated. Boko Haram, like the “invisible government” established by islamists to promote Sharia, seeks to make Sharia the source of legislation in Nigeria, over and above the Constitution.
The saddest aspect of this war is that many Nigerians, including some ignorant Christian leaders, have allowed themselves to be co-opted into the fight against the Constitution and democracy for monetary rewards, positions and privileges.
This is not to imply that the National Christian Elders Forum rejects cooperation with Nigerian citizens who have chosen Islam as a religion. The apprehension is against islamism, which is quite different from Islam.
Islam is a religion while islamism is a political ideology that holds that Islam is not only a religion, but also a political system that must dominate every environment in which Islam is practiced. Islamism is the ideology driving all the terrorist organizations in the world ranging from ISIS to Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Taliban, and even Boko Haram.
The unfolding conspiracy in Nigeria today, is the attempt of islamists to promote Sharia as another source of legislation over and above the Constitution which guarantees equal rights and freedom of religious conviction.
BRITISH SUPPORT FOR ISLAMISM
In placing the Muslim North over and above other citizens of Nigeria, the British opened the flood gate for religious intolerance and ethnic discrimination that has stultified the progress of Nigeria and made national unity elusive.
The Hausa/Fulani is both “ethnicity” and “ideology”. This can be inferred from the Report of the Minorities Commission, where it was stated that “many witnesses have referred to their fears of Fulani-Hausa domination, and though the meaning of this phrase was not always expressed in terms, or even consciously analyzed by those who used it, it clearly implies a system of rule and of society of which an important ingredient is the operation of Muslim Law. Some witnesses have specifically referred to this system of law as an object of fear” A system of rule and society of which an important ingredient is the operation of Islamic law is islamism. [Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the fears of Minorities and the means of allying them Pg. 66]
The Revival of Islamic fundamentalism can be traced to the 1920s and particularly the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt in 1928. Muslim Brotherhood is presently proscribed in Egypt and throughout the Arab world.
Unfortunately, a movement that has been rejected in Arab nations is seeking to entrench itself in Nigeria.
MUSLIM MILITARY DICTATORS
Islamism has been promoted since 1975 when General Gowon was overthrown in a military coup organized by mainly Muslim officers that, stealthily with an invisible government in the shadows promoted Islamism with Sharia as the source of legislation. The two competing ideologies one written – Democracy, the other stealthy – Sharia have introduced poverty and insecurity to the country.
At the Annual Conference of Diasporas in Abuja last month, August 2015, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe quoted an un-named author who said “the future is for those who control the past, and those who control the future control the present” or words to that effect. This metaphor vividly illustrates the role the islamists in collaboration with the Hausa Muslims and Kanuri Muslims played to control the past and present with the assumption that they would still control the future. Christians must beware lest Nigeria becomes an Islamic Caliphate as was done in the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria by ISIS.
It is no longer in dispute that Nigeria is, unfortunately, considered an Islamic country, having applied for admission into the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1986. By virtue of its application into OIC, Nigeria became an Islamic state because the OIC regulation states that a country must first be persuaded that it is an Islamic nation before it can apply for membership. The concern of NCEF is that Nigeria is on the brink of becoming an Islamic Sultanate and Christians that constitute over 50% of the population must team up with moderate Muslims to oppose Sharia law. The constitution must be defended as the source of legislation in Nigeria. Christians should be concerned with rolling back the progress made by the islamists and not permit them to turn the nation into an Islamic Sultanate.
RELIGIOUS CLEANSING – THE PURGE OF 1975
In his press interview published in the Vanguard on 10 and 11 August, 2015 Chief Philip Asiodu made these points that the 1975 purge was not properly thought out. He said, “the debacle of 1975 when 10,000 people were asked to retire or dismissed within two months was unfortunate … that act was quite unjust because there were procedures in the civil service for discipline … Later on, when the late Monsignor Pedro Martin was asked to look into the cases of the dismissals his Report said that 90% of those dismissed did not deserve dismissals”.
For making this statement, Monsignor Pedro Martins, who was then the Director of Army Chaplaincy, was retired from the Army. Yet, those that were unjustly retired were not recalled; the NCEF is of the view that most of their positions were filled by those transferred from the Local Government Service of the North who were mainly Muslims.
THE INVISIBLE GOVERNMENT
The institutional backbone for the “invisible government” in Nigeria is the Department of State Services (DSS). The DSS maintains a strong tradition of secrecy. It is one of the Institutions, if not the main institution that “rules” Nigeria. It however is the undisputed promoter of Sharia in the country through the invisible government that is hell bent on making Nigeria an Islamic Sultanate by all means. DSS moves stealthily with devious efficiency, ruthlessness and treachery because it wields all powerful secret influence. Christians must be aware of the nefarious role that DSS is playing in the conspiracy to make Sharia the other source, if not the only source of legislation in Nigeria.
We must not bring to Nigeria the destruction now going on in the Middle East. Nigerians love life and want to live in peace, that was why notwithstanding all the provocations, President Jonathan conceded defeat at the last elections, which president Buhari failed to do in his first three attempts for the office of President.
VIGILANTE GROUP OF NIGERIA (VGN)
The Nation Newspaper of Sunday, February 1, 2009 at page 18, reported that the Federal Government has approved a new security outfit to combat crime called the Vigilante Group of Nigeria. The Vanguard of Thursday, February 5, 2009 in an Editorial titled Not So Fast, VGN and declares VGN as unconstitutional reads: “… Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution invests policing of the country on the Nigeria Police Force. How can an organization that says it would engage more than 50,000 people in the South West alone operate without an enabling law? In one breath, Vigilante Group of Nigeria sounds like a non-governmental organization. It claims it has a Board of Trustees. How was it registered? The report named Mallam Usman Mohammed, a lawyer, as the National Commander of VGN. Who appointed him? Who controls him? These questions are pertinent against the background that the newspaper said it had documents that specified that the group would wear uniforms and “will be equipped with arms and ammunitions and the vigilante members may carry traditional arms”. This is either a new Police Force or someone’s private Army that could be subject to all the abuses of a lawless outfit ...” Today, the VGN has a presence in Nigeria.
Why Vigilantes? Why not State Police and Local Government Police like what obtains in other countries? There is no synergy between the Police and the DSS because of their ideological differences.
Apart from being unconstitutional, we see this VGN as a religious outfit to promote the interest of a religious group. The Invisible Government through the DSS authorized this outfit and many others like it in the promotion of Islamic fundamentalism.
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER (NSA)
Perhaps the most frightening of islamist strategy is the office of the NSA who is in control of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) with military and Police powers as contained in the ACT promulgated in 2007, contrary to the Constitution that provides for only Police Force in Nigeria under section 214 of the Constitution. How was this unconstitutional ACT passed into law?
It gives the impression that the NSA derives some of his powers from sources outside the Nigerian Constitution.
PRESENT DAY CHALLENGES
Nigerians need to understand that the real issue confronting the nation is not corruption but Sharia, an ideology being promoted by radical islamists, especially the Izalas, the sect President Buhari belongs to. The president has said on several occasions before he was elected President that he would work with all his might to ensure that Sharia is extended throughout Nigeria.
It has been established that there are two main categories in the Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria. There are the Salafists who believe that agitation for Sharia should commence at whatever level the Salafists are present. And, there are the Izalas, who believe that attempts should be made to acquire political power before launching the agitation for Sharia. Shekau belongs to the Salafists while Buhari is of the Izala.
Within his 100 days in office, President Buhari has been emitting disturbing signals that portray him as regional Islamic leader rather than a national president. Out of the 32 critical appointments that he has made in the first 100 days, 27 are from the northern states while 5 are from the southern states; not a single appointee is from the South East zone. On his trip to the U.S. president Buhari left Nigeria with a delegation of 29 northerners and 4 southerners. Against all tact and decorum, the president showed his divisive and discriminatory character by publicly affirming that the constituents that gave him 97% support during the election cannot be treated equally with those that gave him 5%. This is a veiled reference to preferential treatment.
To make matters worse, the president confirmed his islamist nature by publicly disowning the lofty promises he made during his electioneering campaign, proving that he used “Taqiyya” on the nation to obtain the presidency. (“Taqiyya” in Islam means approved deception.) In his first 100 days in office, he did not keep a single promise and rather chose to run the nation unconstitutionally as a Sole Administrator. It is worrisome that the President who vowed to defend the Constitution has now, for three months, ignored some of the provisions of the Constitution in his 100 days rule with respect to appointments, cabinet, spending, etc. Mr. President needs to be circumspect in these matters.
The President has openly launched his first salvo against the church by insisting that the Christian Chapel in Aso Villa should be “relocated”. Already, the space used at Aso Villa as Children’s Church has been converted into a store and alternative space has not been allocated. To demonstrate his disdain for Christianity, security forces locked the Aso Villa church and prevented the Vice-President from gaining access into the building for Sunday service until pressure was mounted on them to open the Chapel.
The islamists seem poised to execute the Islamic Agenda that they have been surreptitiously scheming for years. The recent kidnap of Chief Olu Falae on his farm in the South West by “Fulani herdsmen” is meant to strike fear and panic into the hearts of southern Christian elites to “behave” themselves. This is an ominous sign that should not be ignored.
- Christian leaders should realize that islamists are accelerating their program of taking over Nigeria. Security agencies like DSS and NSA are key allies. Therefore, Christian leaders should realize that war has been launched against the Christian faith.
- Legal steps should be considered to challenge impunities of islamists as well as slow down the progress of their plans.
- There is serious problem of lethargy amongst key Christian leaders, both in the church and amongst non-clergy Christian leaders. This should be reversed.
- CAN should consider meeting and discussing with political parties in Nigeria in an attempt to ensure balance in the polity.
- There is the need to mobilize the younger generation and equip them with requisite knowledge and information. The mobilization should include church leaders. Church leaders should be persuaded to close ranks to confront a common threat.
- The unity of the church is crucial to a successful Christian response. The church must function as a team.
- Focus should be on changing the mindset of the new generation Christians. The current obsession of the average Christian with earthly wealth and indulgence should be reversed in favor of discipleship and Godly contentment.
- The media should be persuaded to be fair and balanced in its coverage of news.
- It has become necessary to introduce State and Local Government Police all over the nation, as well as give permission to heads of families, particularly in crisis prone zones, to defend themselves against the onslaught of the islamists.
- The gross imbalance in the Judiciary should be redressed.
- Discipleship teaching in the church should include preservation of Christianity in Nigeria. Christians should be educated that there is a war launched against the faith and Christians should be trained to defend Christianity.
- The question of predestination in Islam should be clarified. Christians do not believe in the predestination that some people were created poor while few are created lords. Every human being should be given opportunity to succeed in life.
In view of the above, Christians, and all lovers of freedom and equality in Nigeria should mobilize to achieve the following:
- A Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the nation. Nigeria needs healing and only the Truth can heal the nation.
- The implementation of the National Conference Report. All the ethnic groups in Nigeria must begin to progressively restructure the imbalance that was created by the British. Even though the present administration of Buhari has distanced itself from the Report, for obvious reasons, it must be prevailed upon to implement it since it was a National Conference. One individual or one political party cannot impose its will on the rest of the nation.
- A new Constitution for the nation that will replace the 1999 military Constitution of a Military dictator. The 1999 Constitution is the bastion of corruption and impunity in the nation. No amount of war against corruption will work in Nigeria until the 1999 Constitution is dismantled.
- The restoration of History lessons in schools. After more than 100 years as a nation, Nigeria has more than sufficient history to be taught to the coming generations. It should be pointed out that removal of History as a subject in schools is a classical move of islamists against indigenous ethnic groups they want to subjugate. This is what they did in Sudan to make the indigenous ethnic groups forget their root. It must not be replicated in Nigeria.
Join the movement to uphold the Constitution and defend Democracy in Nigeria. At independence, Sharia was mentioned only once in the Constitution. In the 1999 Constitution, it is mentioned 73 times.
Let us join hands to uphold Liberal Democracy in Nigeria.
Solomon Asemota, (SAN)
National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF)