“Nigeria is in a pitiable abyss of complete mess of polarized, fragmented and disenchanted society because of the inability to face up the truth about her beginnings and penchant for patching up the un-patchable.” This was the submission of the Most Rev Peter Jasper Akinola the former Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion as the guest speaker at this year’s National Democracy Day service held at the National Christian Center, Abuja. According to Archbishop Akinola, years after the amalgamation of the north and south, over 5 decades after independence and thirteen years of unbroken democratic rule, there are no clear signs of genuine national unity. Nigeria has remained a mere geographical expression, battling with one crisis or the other. He said that as things are, Nigeria is endemically at war with itself with greedy politicians, manipulating the system for selfish aggrandizement leaving Nigeria in a dysfunctional state. The preacher who dug in deep into Nigeria’s past said the colonial overlords took advantage of the northern and southern protectorates about 98 years ago without due consultation and did not obtain their consent because of what they stand to gain, economically and politically. He said it was dangerously assumed that all parts of the merged protectorates had thrown away their peculiarities and were ready to become one ‘nation’ hence acrimony, hostilities, inter ethnic rivalry became the order of the day among the three major ethnic groups namely Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. He traced the general election of the first republic to falsified national census figures, marred by confusion, disorder and turbulent political crisis resulting in bloodshed and 36 month long civil war. This was followed by political unrest, military coups and counter coups, wicked waves of armed robbery, incessant religious riots in which Christians in the north were subjected to wanton destruction of their lives and properties and their churches razed down. The former Primate of the Anglican Church said the return to democratic governance in 1999 has not helped matters because the root causes of Nigeria’s predicaments and troubles of the people and governments have not been tackled, they continue to deny the truth at a huge cost and continually patching the unpatchable putting new win in old wine skin. Having recalled the occurrence of religious and ethnic programs from the popular Hausa ‘Araba’ in 1966, Maitatsine riot of 1980, Kano riot of 1982, Zango Kataf in 1992, Kafanchan and Kaduna riots and losses suffered by Christians in Tafava Balewa in Bauchi, in 1991, 1995 and 2000, and massacre of Christians in plateau in 1994 to date. The preacher came to the conclusion that the Boko Haram saga is a continuation of the Araba agenda of 1966 but under a new guise, an Islamic aggression against Christianity which he said has been going on for 36 years under different guises and names unleashing terror. He pleaded with the federal government not to enter into any form of dialogue with the sect because according to him, those calling for unwholesome dialogue wants’ government to succumb to unjust demands because they are benefitting from the patching up lifestyle of governance. He added that it is not only Boko Haram that has religious and political issues to settle with Nigeria, according to him many of other stakeholders in the Nigerian project have their own axe to grind. He then traced the history of the meaning of Boko Haram and submitted that put together Boko Haram means that Jews and Christians which Islam’s holy books describes as “people of the book” are an abomination, forbidden to live. According to Archbishop Akinola, they have a clear mandate from their religious beliefs to which they are irrevocably committed, adding that the problem is not peculiar to Nigeria, pointing to the directive given to the countries in the Gulf region to eliminate Christianity and all churches in that region.He described corruption as a hydra leaded monster which has taken over the soul and eaten up the fabric of Nigeria, where officials steal public funds audaciously by the pen to the extent that what is left of Nigeria is carcass. He called on religious leaders who are grabbing what does not belong to them by hypnotizing, deceiving and manipulating the people to stop stealing because judgment will start from the house of faith. The same admonition he gave to those who steal pensioner’s funds oil subsidy money, greedy arrogant politicians subjecting the poor to untold hardship, to repent and like good old Zacheus make reparation, for God to have mercy on them. He urged all extortioners to take seriously the admonition of the psalmist: “Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods: though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them” He suggested that a time table be drawn, where a presidential retreat will be organized in the 6 geo-political zones where people will be free to articulate and express their hopes and aspirations which will be collated, amended and harmonized throughout the country by a team of men and women of impeccable character and integrity. He concluded that if after all submissions a proposition is clearly irreconcilable from a particular zone such zone should be allowed to have its own religious republic, because according to him this is where an authentic desire for a truly united Nigerian nation come. This he said calls for sincerity courage and focus. He called on Mr. President to as a matter of urgency flush out of his government political and financial hawks and predators hovering around him sharing and carting away oil money adding that they should be sent to farms.
By Foluso Taiwo