I wanted to post this on Facebook but, on the last minute, I decided to put it on the blog in order to have a better conversation. By putting it on the blog, I have cut off a large number of people who are less likely to click on a link and are too lazy to read but who are very quick to start a fight in the comment box.
I sometimes think of this blog as an exclusive club where I come to share more delicate things. Viral is not usually more useful. In fact, the more philistinism you put in your work the more likely you are to go viral. I am beginning to suspect that there is an acute lack of willingness to engage in intelligent arguments in Nigeria. We are too breezy, too gossipy, too pictorial, too jokey, too dismissal, too impatient to really make a difference. I, you and the few of us who have sense, have a lot to do to salvage Nigeria from the siege of deplorability.
That is not my problem in this particular post. Apostle Suleman’s sermon is.
I have watched the video for quite a few times and I have also read the comments condemning him. At first, I shrugged off the whole thing by reposting Elnathan John’s tweet that the average Christian or Muslim sermon contains hate speech. But the arguments and name calling have continued. And a tweet of 140 characters couldn’t have covered it all. I have now decided to develop my points.
I will discuss the points in two parts. The first part is on what I believe in; in the second part, I will pass my verdict (yes, this blog is a court and I am the chief judge).
1, I am a Christian. I am a Christian who has a strong clarity about the deity of Jesus Christ as a Prince of Peace.
So I find the sermon of the apostle curious and troubling. Self-defence, which the Christian Association of Nigeria has endorsed, is not a Christian way. It doesn’t matter how many Christians say it. It doesn’t matter how many times they say it, or how highly placed they are placed; the weapons of Christianity are not carnal. Period!
2, Nigerian government has failed Christians.
One of the perceptions of Christians and southerners about Buhari during his many attempts to become president is that he is a religious and ethnic fanatic. Even Atiku implied this during his campaign for the APC ticket. Buhari is now president having been polished by the media powerhouse of Tinubu. But Buhari’s appointments, utterances, actions and body language have proved his critics right. He is biased. He doesn’t take the incessant attacks of Fulani herdsmen seriously. I don’t think it takes sleep away from his eyes.
3, Self-defence is a natural law.
It’s acceptable to every international, civil and human rights group. But it is not a Christian tenet. I am not against self-defence but I am against advocating self-defence on the altar. The Christian altar should be disengaged from this sort politics. Why,
a) Because it is not Christian.
b) Because it robs Christianity the power to tap into the supernatural defence they believe in.
c) It energises their adversaries who would take it as a call to arm themselves the more.
d) It is meaningless because anyone who is resolved to take up self-defence will do so whether the clergy condemns it or not. And those who will run away will run away even if Apostle Paul of Tarsus comes in person blandishing a machine gun.
That takes me to the second part.
What is the way forward? I, Justice Kingsley Okechukwu of Hard Voices Supreme Courts, rule that,
1, Christians must tap into their real power.
They serve a God who walked on water, who raised the death, who resurrected Himself from the death, whose servant’s shadow healed multitudes (except you don’t believe these in which case you are not a Christian). If a Christian with as little as a tenth of the faith of the least disciple of Jesus Christ of Nazareth stands up today and says, ‘As long as I live, there will no longer be any Fulani herdsmen harassment’, it will be the end of herdsmen terrorism. He may say, if he is the angry type, ‘Any Fulani herdsman who lays his hand on a weapon will fall and die instantly’, and it will happen. But where is such man?
2, Christians must stop playing home and away.
If you believe in God, you do, if you don’t you don’t. Once a Christian starts making statements like ‘Pray but don’t be stupid’ he is invariably saying, ‘Pray but get AK47 in case your prayer fails.’ And such attitude is against the faith in God. If you don’t trust, in totality, the power of God, then you better have a powerful plan B because you will need it. Once you put God as plan A you have lost it. God doesn’t do plans. He is your saviour or he is not. He is not one of your saviours.
3, If Christians decide to go with plan B, then the likes of Apostle Suleman must step down the pulpit and lead the way.
There should be offerings for weapons and congregations should be encouraged to sow a seed of weaponry. Going on Plan B stealthily won’t work because Christians are against a well-organised group with the tacit if not overt support of their elites both in government and outside it. I urge you Christian not to do this,
- Because it will destroy Nigeria. We’ll wake up someday and there is no more country called Nigeria.
- Because it is not a clear cut battle between Muslims and Christians. Although Christians are near 100 percent of the victims of Fulani carnage, the terrorists are a minority and in mobilizing for self-defence there is no way it won’t spill-over into a free for all fight.
4, Nigerian Government must protect Christians.
They should stop endorsing Fulani terrorism. They should start arresting these evil people, try them and jail them. They must raid their hideout and recover their weapons and go after their sponsors. The nonsense talk of ‘We will deal ruthlessly with perpetrators of this bastardly acts’ is nonsense talk, we are no longer buying. Buhari and his agents must show that they are not only against law-breaking but after law-breakers. How can, as Suleman says, ‘212 people died in Kaduna and nobody is prosecuted, nobody is prosecuted. Not one.’ Yet we have Biafran agitators in prison; Niger delta avengers in prison, Shia Movement members in prison and not a Fulani herdsmen in detention. This stinks of bias, of cover-up even.
They can start by re-arresting the killers of Evangelist Eunice and the woman beheaded in Kano. How can we be trying a man who named his dog Buhari and say we have no evidence against people who kill people?
5, Nigerian Government must rebuild the communities destroyed by the herdsmen.
I don’t mean rebuilding just the burnt houses and churches, but using the opportunity to electrify the localities, bring tap borne water, build more school blocks, tar their roads, empower the people financially etc. It won’t bring the death back but it would ease the mourning of the living. Doing this will pass a message to government that they stand to pay a huge price if they do not protect their citizens.
6, Influential Nigerians must continually hold government to their duty.
It pains me when politicians of the opposition join APC. It robs Nigeria of the needed dissenting voice. But non-politicians like Pastor Adeboye, whose complaint caused the sacking of the FRC executive secretary and the suspension of its alleged anti-church law, Uma Ukpai and Father Mbaka must use their influence to the limit (except they are silently involved in verdict one above, which is not evident).
Finally, we must keep the conversation going. It doesn’t seem to change anything but it has put us one conversation forward. You may also want to read Too much bloodshed and Don’t let the devil use you. My groaning for the good of Nigeria, no matter how flawed it is, did not start today. It won’t end anytime soon.
God help us.
Tweets to @Oke4chukwu