Friday, 10 April 2015

This Church Burning Must Stop!

This Church Burning Must Stop!
Last week, I began to bring you excerpts from the interview I had with the President-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, way back in 2010 when he was gearing up for the 2011 presidential contest, under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which he lost. I did promise to continue with the interview this week, however, we will stand it down, regrettably, so as to address a development which occurred this week in Kano state. I crave your understanding.
The Baptist Church in the village of Gidan Maso, Rogo Local Government Area of Kano State, was razed down last week, Wednesday April 1, 2015. The act was reportedly carried out by angry youths, at about 7:30pm, during which the Pastor’s residence was also set alight, killing one of his daughters and injuring others in the process.
Speaking to journalist in Abuja, the president of Tarayyar Masihiyawan Nijeria (Hausa, Fulani, and Kanuri Christians),  Gen Ishaku Ahmed Dikko (rtd), was reported to have said that the arson took place when the angry youths went after the life of a certain Yahaya Joshua who had converted to islam but later reverted to Christianity again. The young man managed to escape but in his trail were the murder, maiming and destruction that took place, in spite of spirited pleading by the Christian community there. Reports were said to have been made to the police and traditional authorities concerning the matter.
A lot of things have happened in this country that have continued to shatter the much needed cohesion among citizens for nation building. Of course there are many people that, day in day out, are working for peaceful coexistence among the varied peoples, whether in terms of ethnicity or religion, of this nation. But for some others, they don’t just seem to understand why people different from them, on whatever account, should live and live freely. This has made Nigerians treat and relate with other Nigerians with reservation, if not outright suspicion, at every turn in our nationhood journey.
No doubt, wicked politicians have exploited these cracks and have continued to ravage us as a people to the extent that, despite the plenitude God has endowed us with, we have continued to carry on at subhuman levels in Nigeria. Even when, from time to time, our sorry state of affairs seems to tend to want to get us to reason together as one people with a common destiny, such occurrences as the one in Kano state would just not let us. Little wonder, the run-up to the 2015 general elections have been steeped in such sectarian slurs that even bordered on hate. Never before in the history of this nation did we see such levels of manipulation. 2015 elections run-up was the first time the term “hate campaign” or “hate speech” will enter the lexicon of our electioneering. Sure enough, the political vultures will stop at nothing to scavenge on the carcasses we have made of each other. Thank God we managed to rise above it even if by the cinch.
With regard to religious motivated tyranny, the Muslim north has got a huge task ahead. Surely, no one should provoke such sensibilities of others, but again, our laws provide channels through which people may seek redress. A situation where for perceived provocation, real or imagined, people, not just take the laws into their hands but, resort to vandalism of terrorist dimensions leaves a lot to be desired. It leaves even people who share the faith embarrassed, and forecloses any possibility for others from the outside to even consider its beauty.
Nigeria is a constitutional democracy. Section 10 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly prohibits the adoption of any religion as state religion anywhere in the federation. Section 38 guarantees every Nigerian the right to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. One may choose any faith in the morning and move on to another or revert by sundown; it’s a personal affair. The case of Yahaya Joshua is, therefore, a travesty that every Nigerian who values his human dignity must speak up against. Nobody heard when he converted from Christianity to Islam in the first place; he probably even did it on TV during a Ramadan Tasfsir. He most likely never even consulted with his family, friends or Church community before the decision. Now that he decided to revert, one wonders why a church should be razed down, people maimed with one person even killed.
Shortly before the presidential elections, a Living Faith Church Parish was reportedly razed down in Giwa LGA, Kaduna state. We have seen cases where churches were destroyed for as simple a reason as a primary school teacher making an example using names which her pupils reported as blasphemous. It behooves on the leaders of the religion of Islam to speak unequivocally about this trend whose motivation people outside can no longer say for sure.
But above all, the government of this nation whose primary duty is the security of the lives and property of Nigerians and who swore to uphold the constitution of the republic must be seen to be alive to its responsibility. The perpetrators of the Gidan Maso anarchy must be brought to justice.
Thankfully, Gen Muhammadu Buhari has been elected president. He promised Nigeria change from this lawlessness to a regime of justice and the rule of law. Given his pedigree and antecedents, we trust that his government will mark, at least, the beginning of the end of this madness.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Thur April 9, 2015; p2

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