[dropcap]P[/dropcap]ermit me to preface this article by quoting verbatim from the Gospel account of Judas Iscariot’s atrocious treachery:
“While they were eating Jesus said to the Twelve: ‘In truth I tell you, one of you is about to betray me.’ They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn. ‘Not me, Lord, surely?’ … The Son of man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed. Better for that man if he had never been born! Judas, who was to betray him, asked in his turn, ‘Not me, Rabbi, surely?’ Jesus answered, it is you who say it.” (Matthew 26:21-25).
There is no doubt that a good number of our Christian politicians serving in the present administration of President Buhari have taken the unfortunate route of Judas Iscariot. Many of them have betrayed Jesus Christ, the church and the persecuted Nigerian masses by their actions and inactions in their chosen mission as politicians. Many of these self-serving Christian politicians have reneged in bearing witness to the truth, standing up for Jesus Christ and the poor at the time of crisis like ours in Nigeria today.
Only the gullible or rather ‘sell-out’ Christians would deny the fact that there are persecutions and killing of Christians and indigenous populations going on in Nigeria today in a way never seen in recent years. Although, there had always been religious and ethnic tensions in the country, it has never been this bad before. Sad to say, it is so today because of the action and inactions of the present federal government, and especially the complicity of their Christian politician-collaborators. Government insensitivity and complicity on the matter is a great source of worry to people of good conscience.
The persecution and killing of Christians in Nigeria today is real, structural and comprehensive. In such a case, it is total, and absolute, on the entire country, in the regions, in the states, in the cities as in the countryside. Therefore, those who allege that the persecution and killing of Christians in Nigeria today is “state-sponsored” may not be totally, wrong.
The unfolding Islamization and Fulanization agenda of Buhari government confirms this fear. But the persecution and killing of Christians in Nigeria today have neither moral value, nor spiritual value, nor any other kind. They are simply evils that must be torn out by the roots. For its continued presence in Nigeria breed structures of bloodbaths, deaths, conflicts, abuse of human rights, degradation of human dignity, disarray, disunity and the other ravages those structures inflict.
This means that the government’s sinister agenda and interest, its renewed vigorous pursuit of Islamization and Fulanization project is the great obstacle, impasse in arresting the ongoing persecution and killing of Christians and people of indigenous ethnic-nationalities in Nigeria today. This is why the carnage instead of decreasing is on daily increase.
Another reason why the carnage may not go away so easily is the perverted rhetoric of government officials each time a matter of this kind is reported at the international arena. The narrative of lies and denial of government spokespersons and officials each time people complain of persecution and killings carried out against Christians and indigenous populations by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani herdsmen militias and bandits. Government officials in their defense not only deny that such things are happening, that it has no hands in them, but plays it down altogether.
Instead of making use of information gathered to apprehend, prosecute and imprison the culprits, government officials blame the victims, accusing them of fabrication of the truth and as fermenting trouble. Unfortunately, Christian politicians and diplomats who serve in the present administration are the ones the government usually uses as its ‘public image-makers’ and ‘errand boys’ whenever anything of this kind surges up at the international arena.
We saw this played out the other day, when Vice President Prof. Femi Osinbajo, a professed Christian neo-Pentecostal pastor, had to make an emergency visit to the United States of America. From all indications, Osinbajo’s S.O.S visit to the US last week was part of the desperate attempt of the present administration to counter-react the moving first-hand story and testimony given by the mother of Leah Shariub, and other victims of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen terrorists’ attacks who spoke at the America’s Heritage Foundation Center the same week.
The 16-year old girl, Leah Shariub who has been in the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists for more than two years now, was the only Christian girl among the Dapchi Girls’ Secondary School students abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists. Her only offense for not been released along with her other abducted colleagues was because she refused to denounce her Christian faith. The rest who were Muslims, were released after the alleged ransom government paid to the terrorist organization. But till date, Leah Shariub is still in the dungeon of Boko Haram terrorists at the Sambisa forest.
The cry of the mother of Leah at the international arena last week, and the moving story of other victims of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen terrorists’ attacks in the Middle Belt region and Southern Kaduna, who spoke at the Heritage Foundation Center, USA, exposed all the government hypocrisy on this matter. Vice President Osinbajo had to be sent immediately to the US by the Cabal as government’s ‘image-maker’, in an attempt to counter-react the true testimonies of the victims of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen terrorism given at the Heritage Center.
This is the type of role most Christian politicians who serve in the present administration, often are called upon to perform. That is, in a bid to camouflage government’s sinister agenda – the unfolding Islamization and Fulanization project of Buhari administration, government officials often come up with narrative of lies and denials to deceive the gullible and international community. In doing so, they use their Christian politician-collaborators.
This fact will become clearer as we proceed to our next point: the letter of Northern Christian Elders’ Forum (NCEF) to the British Parliament, and the response of Nigerian government through its High Commissioner to UK, George Oguntade, an Anglican Christian.
The Use of Christian Politicians as ‘errand boys’ by Buhari Administration
In its reaction to the NCEF letter to British Parliament, the Buhari administration, decided to use a Christian diplomat and Former High Court Judge, George Adesola Oguntade, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK) to launch a rebuttal with their customary narrative of lies and denial.
Here again, we witnessed the highest display of bizarre and narrative of lie of the present federal government of Nigeria, using their Christian collaborators, renegades, in their desperate attempt to deny the obvious, regarding the ongoing systematic persecution and killing of Christians in the country.
The response by the Nigerian government to the NCEF letter to the British Parliament is contained in a letter to the British Parliamentary Group, signed by Nigeria’s High Commissioner to UK, George Oguntade. The Nigerian High Commissioner to UK sent two letters, addressed to Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen, a former secretary of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and now Head, “Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Support of Persecuted Christians,” and Baroness Berridge, the Chair of “All Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief.”
In its correspondences, the Nigerian government strongly dismissed as inconceivable and outrightly false, allusion to the effect that Boko Haram terrorism served a government agenda against Christians. The Nigerian High Commissioner to UK also told Rev. Mounstephen: “The safety of all Nigerians, whatever their faith, is a fundamental priority of the Buhari Government. The government knows that Nigeria can only achieve its potential if there is religious tolerance and cooperation.” He added that the President’s cabinet is balanced between Muslims and Christians, noting that he himself was a former Chancellor of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
According to Justice Oguntade, Vice President Osinbajo has maintained regular contacts with Christian and Muslim leaders as part of efforts to build and sustain interfaith dialogue. Stressing that the country’s security challenges had no ethnic and religious coloration, the High Commissioner said the farmer/herders clashes predated the Buhari administration, noting that such clashes bordered on the desire for pasture by the herders and the desire to protect crops from encroachment and destruction by the farmers.
Oguntade explained that these clashes had a long history and the Buhari administration is taking a major step to address the root causes of these crises and violent clashes pitting Muslim and Christian farmers alike against the herders. According to the High Commissioner, “the issue of grazing routes is historically central to these conflicts and Buhari administration is taking a holistic approach to the matter with view to ending it once and for all, so that Nigerians can live in peace with one another.” He therefore, assured the international community that the Buhari administration would ensure that “the competition over scarce land is resolved peacefully for the benefits of all parties.”
The two letters were each accompanied by a copy of an opinion article signed by the President and published on November 30, 2018, by London-based “Church Times,” entitled: “Don’t Politicize Religion in Nigeria.”
In the article, President Buhari, among other things, said Muslims and Christians can flourish together: “These two great religions (Islam and Christianity) can not only peacefully co-exist but flourish together.” He added that, “As our constitution spells out, politicizing religion should have no place in Nigeria.” (Cf. Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, June 27, 2019: Source: thebridgenewsng).
However, everyone on the know of recent happenings in Nigeria, knows that the Nigerian government submission and rebuttal letter to the alleged persecution and killing of Christians in the country, is far from the truth.
The Northern Christian Elders Forum had earlier in its letter, accused Buhari administration of practicing bigotry and alienating Christians. The NCEF presented a detailed account of cases of government sponsored persecution and alienation of Christians in various sectors of Nigeria’s public life and governance structure, especially in Northern part of the country.
Furthermore, the NCEF did not mince words in telling the international community that there is a direct link between Boko Haram insurgence and Fulani herdsmen militias as well as the new phenomenon of banditry and kidnappings going on nationwide today. It accused the present administration of complicity in all these. Otherwise, how come it none of these terrorists had been apprehended, prosecuted or imprisoned!
Many Nigerians believe that the government cannot claim ignorance of who the perpetrators of these terror attacks, banditry and kidnappings are and where they are. The government’s romance with Miyetti Allah, sponsors of the Fulani herdsmen militias is a case in point. Again, the fact that a former governor from the North East region, implicated in the activities of Boko Haram, is today a bona fide member of the ruling Party, leaves a sore in the eye.
Furthermore, there is the perennial case, the 12 states of the so-called core-North that adopted Sharia legal system in an outright disregard to the religious and cultural sensibility of Christians and non-Hausa-Fulani Muslim ethnic nationalities who are indigenous to the area.
Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly difficult for ordinary Christians from those Sharia States of the North West and North East regions of Nigeria to “breathe fresh air” any longer as equal citizens with their Hausa-Fulani Muslim brethren who dominate all sectors of governance and public life there. Christian denominations who apply for certificate of occupancy for a land to build new churches are not the given approval by different states’ governments in most parts of Northern Nigeria today.
In another development, in Kebbi State, for example, few weeks ago, we witnessed how the state governor, frustrated the confirmation as Chief-Justice of the state, a Christian Lady from Zuru indigenous ethnic group of the State. Thereafter, he went ahead to dismiss her outrightly from the state civil service when she made public what she had been passing through at the hands of the Sharia state governor and Hausa-Fulani Muslim dominated State House of Assembly. Till date, nobody had come to the aid of this ‘disgraced’ Christian Chief Judge from Kebbi State in North Western Nigeria.
Not long ago, Bridget Agbahime, 74 years old Igbo Christian and trader, who had lived in Kano with her husband and family for over 40 years, was lynched and brutally killed by errant Muslim youths in Kano. The only crime of this old Christian woman and pastor was that she asked a Muslim lad in front of the door of her shop about to perform the traditional Muslim ritual cleansing before prayers, to please move to another place. The Muslim lad instead of respecting the old woman, went out and came back with a mob of Muslim youths, accusing the old woman of blasphemy. Till date, the killers of Bridget Agbahime are walking freely in the streets of Kano.
In addition, as the report of NCEF indicates, the burning of Christian churches at any least provocation in many parts of Northern Nigeria is on steady increase and the government seemed unwilling or rather incapable of addressing the ugly situation. Discrimination in job opportunities and admission into universities and other higher institutions in the North are daily experiences of Christians living in many parts of Northern Nigeria. The painful part of it all, is that majority of these Christians being discriminated against are indigenous to those states in the North.
Again, nowadays there are many reported cases of abduction of Christian teenager girls, especially in Northern States. Most of them after abduction surfaced at the Palaces of Emirs, where in many occasions, they forced them into marriage with Muslim adults.
Moreover, as we alluded earlier on, Christians living in North Central states of Kaduna, Benue and Plateau, indeed the whole of the Middle Belt region, which is prominently a Christian zone, experience daily a near total and systematic organized persecutions and killings of their people, destruction of their villages and ancestral farmlands by the marauding Muslim Fulani herdsmen militias. Many of these Christians have no place again to call home. In all these, however, not a single perpetrator of these crimes against humanity happening in the Middle Belt region, Southern Kaduna, and other parts of the country had been apprehended, prosecuted or arrested by the government.
In other words, today, the world is coming to the grip of what is clearly a well-organized and sponsored ethnic-cleansings of indigenous populations of Southern Kaduna, Plateau State and Middle Belt region indigenes, most of whom are Christians. Yet, Nigerian government officials have refused to acknowledge in clear terms that these things happened and are still happening on daily basis.
The government has also not shown any willingness or taken concrete steps to halt the menace and provide security of lives and property for the traumatized local population. Rather what we hear from the government spokespersons and officials each time these things happen and people complain, is nothing other than insults and denials with their usual narrative of lies. Ours is a country whose government officials are living in denial of evil things taking place in its domain.
Finally, the most bizarre show of religious and ethnic bigotry of the present federal government is its lopsided leadership style. Since it came to power in 2015, the Buhari administration divided the country into 97% against 5% of the regions that voted or did not vote for him.
The most affected of the federal government’s marginalization policy and lopsided leadership style is the South Eastern region, the Igbos. The marginalization affects all facets of government relationship with the Igbo people: in government appointments, infrastructure and inclusive participation in governance structure of the nation as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. The wound this systematic marginalization of the South Easterners has caused to the country’s fragile union, is better imagined than experienced. It is something we are going to live with for many years to come.
Today, people of the Southeast, a region that is 99% Christian, no longer feel wanted in the Nigerian union. This is because of systematic and comprehensive manner Buhari administration, from year one of the administration, had decided to sideline the Igbos with his style of lopsided leadership. In my estimation, this is the worst sin of this administration. The consequences of which, will no doubt, prove very disastrous for the country in years to come.
Furthermore, recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo alerted the nation about the dangers inherent in the unfolding phenomenon of President Muhammed Buhari’s Islamization and Fulanization agenda as well as lopsided government. In that regard, Obasanjo asked President Buhari a very fundamental question, which nobody till date, has answered. Obasanjo asked President Buhari:
“Why is it that the heads of the National Assembly, Judiciary and the Executive, all come from people of the same religion and the same region, Fulani Muslim North? How come that the heads of all the Service-Chiefs and Chief Security Adviser, the army, and air force (with the exception of navy), and the Inspector General of Police, all come from people of the same religion and the same region, Fulani Muslim North? And how come that the heads of Nigerian Customs, Immigrations, Prisons, Para-military groups, etc., all come from the same religion, and the same region, Fulani Muslim North?”
On his own part, T.Y. Danjuma, another ex-general and elder statesman, alerted the nation about the ongoing persecution and killing of Christians in Nigeria, which according to him is being carried out through the complicity of the present administration’s security agencies and law enforcement officers, Nigerian military and police. According to T.Y. Danjuma, the Nigerian military and police collude with the Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani herdsmen militias and bandits who carry out all these terrorist attacks, killings, kidnappings and destruction of Christian and indigenous populations’ villages, towns and farmlands in the North East, Southern Kaduna, Middle Belt and Southern States of Nigeria. This is why government security and law enforcement agencies never apprehended, prosecuted or imprisoned members of these terrorist organizations operating in the country.
This is the irony of history! The new alarm about the Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria as well as the ongoing persecution and killing of Christians in the country under the Buhari administration is coming from unexpected quarters. Not from our church leaders or highly placed Christian politicians of the ruling party, in the inner circle of Buhari administration. But from two old men in their 80s, retired army generals, Obasanjo and Danjuma. Obasanjo and Danjuma had never been known in the past as critics of President Buhari or even as defenders of the survival of Christianity in Nigeria. This tells us how bad the situation has reached in the country today.
Initially, when this administration of President Buhari came to power in 2015, millions of Nigerian Christians and people of good will, had hoped that with a Christian pastor on board as Vice President, and other prominent Christians serving in the administration, President Muhammed Buhari, a well-known die-hard Islamist and Fulani-ethnic irredentist, would be brought to a democratic level. Unfortunately, four years along the line, the unexpected had happened.
Today, Nigeria, in all intent and purpose, had changed from a ‘secular state’ to a full-blown Muslim nation by President Buhari, and his governing Cabal, assisted by their Christian politician-collaborators. This happened in a broad day light, before all us, like a film.
This is the reality on the ground today. One which we have to live with for many years to come. That is, as Christians and people of diverse indigenous ethnic-nationalities, locked together in that geographical space called Nigeria.
It will take a miracle to bring Nigeria back again to path of a secular state, a modern nation state. Nigeria, as we know it, no longer exists! What a pity!
Instead of Christian politicians serving in Buhari administration to checkmate him and prevent the sliding of Nigeria into full-blown dictatorship and Islamic religious extremism, the President himself had succeeded in converting almost all of them into agents of his Islamization and Fulanization agenda in Nigeria. The result of which is what we are experiencing today in that country.
Today, when you hear any Christian politician who serves in the present administration speak, one thing is obvious. Most of our Christian politicians of the present ruling-party at the center, have turned themselves into ‘errand boys’ and spokespersons of the Abuja Aso Rock Cabal. That is, the Cabal that is behind the unfolding Islamization and Fulanization agenda of the Buhari administration. The Cabal that dines and wines with the terrorist organization, Miyetti Allah, sponsors of the Fulani killer herdsmen and banditry.
This is more painful when one remembers that the primary objective of the Cabal for this Buhari’s second-term in office is nothing else but the establishment of Ruga settlement, Fulani colonies across the country. What we have presently at the Presidential Villa at Abuja, is a Cabal that does not care at all about resettling the displaced victims of Boko Haram terrorism in the North Eastern states. A Cabal that does not care of resettling the victims of Fulani herdsmen militias in Southern Kaduna, Plateau and Benue States as well as in the Southern states of the country.
For years now, victims of Boko Haram terrorism have been living in refugee camps in different locations in the terrorism prone-zone of the North Eastern states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Taraba. Yet, instead of thinking of how to help the victims of terrorism return to their ancestral towns and villages and rehabilitate them, the present federal government is only concerned with the establishment of Ruga settlements, that is, Fulani colonies across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
The planned Ruga settlements throughout the 36 states of Nigeria is part of the grand plan by the present administration towards the Islamization and Fulanization of the country. In their desperate effort to achieve this sinister objective (although, presently, temporally suspended), they use the deceptive narrative of finding solution to ‘farmers/herders’ clash’ as metaphor to deceive the outside world and the gullible.
The invasion of towns, villages and farmlands of indigenous ethnic populations in the Middle belt and Southern States of Nigeria by marauding Fulani herdsmen who move about with AK47, is NOT farmers/herders’ clash. It is a planned Muslim Jihad and Fulani conquest of the rest of Nigeria by the Buhari administration. The Nigerian government use of narrative of ‘farmers/herders’ clash in describing such an evil activity of Fulani herdsmen is not only annoying but deceptive.
What is more annoying is the role, been played by Christian politician-collaborators of this administration in the whole saga! Each time the present federal government finds itself in a tight-corner, in fact, in an unescapable situation in the unfolding agenda of Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria, it sends a Christian politician-collaborator as its errand to deceive the gullible and the reluctant world.
That is, to make the world think that nothing like persecution and killing of Christians are taking place in Nigeria under its watch. While in actual fact, persecution and killing is the daily living reality of Christians and indigenous ethnic populations of the country under the watch of the present federal government of President Buhari.
Therefore, in the light of the above, our Christian politicians in the present dispensation have one choice to make. Either they choose to remain serving as ‘errand boys’ for the present administration and its Islamization and Fulanization project, or begin to work to defend their Christian faith and freedom of their people in the contraption called Nigeria.
Whichever choice one makes, will determine how history will remain the person. It is a choice between path of honor and that of betrayal. Let us, like heroes and great Saints of the past, be on the path of honor and not betrayal!
The cry of our people, and the blood of the massacred victims of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen terrorism, should spur us all to action to save the fatherland and free our people from this regime of tyranny and religious extremism.
Francis Anekwe Oborji is a Roman Catholic Priest. He lives in Rome where he is a Professor of missiology (mission theology) in a Pontifical University. He runs a column on The Trent. He can be reached by email HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.