Drumbeats of Phantom War

Which one is “National Christian Elders Forum”?  And what business have retired generals with Christianity? In matters of religion, they are not authorities to depend on. Therefore, I have no difficulty in rejecting the claim of the “National Christian Elders Forum” (NCEF) that there is a plot to launch a jihad or to Islamise Nigeria. My bishop, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, recently assured us that there’s no such plot. I believe him.

Ndigbo say that when you see a toad running in the daytime, know that something is after its life. That’s why one should be jolted by the statement attributed to NCEF whose members include retired generals TY Danjuma, Zamani Lekwot and Joshua Dogonyaro. Solomon Asemota is said to be their chairman and Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Shyngle Wigwe are also members.

They did not say anything that the rest of us have not written about. When NCEF warned of an impending war, I asked: which war? The war with Boko Haram is ongoing but Fulani herdsmen are not organised enough to wage a war, unless of course they are an arm of Boko Haram. Neither IPOB nor the Arewa youth group has a standing army.

There will be no more war. Though it’s true that “Nigeria is even sicker than President Buhari”, what may be feared is anarchy, not war. And certainly not the kind of war that the three retired generals fought 50 years ago.

What’s new in the NCEF statement? Grazing reserves, insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery and cybercrime are ills we condemn every day. The violation of the Federal Character Principle recognised by the constitution by the Buhari administration through lop-sidedness in appointments is clear to all, as is the current attempt to undermine the authority of the acting president.

I thought the education authorities have reversed themselves on the issue of belittling Christian studies in schools? To me this is a surprise: “This brazen attempt at Islamization of Nigeria has extended to the introduction of Religion and National Values subject which denigrates Christianity and promotes Islam…The NCEF joins in the demand that Christian Religious Knowledge, CRK, and Islamic Religious Knowledge, IRK, revert to the original status as stand-alone subjects.”

The attempt to subdue CRK, if it was actually made, has no chance of succeeding. No education authority can dictate to Christian missionary schools – and there are many of them – or to Christians who teach CRK in public schools. No one can force a Christian child to learn IRK under any guise.

Judging by the way groups are issuing statements these days, I wonder why some have not formed “Association of Poor Nigerians” or “National Union of Unemployed Graduates” under which they would comment on the state of the nation or issue ultimatums to those who are killing Nigerians through unemployment and extreme poverty.

It’s time to stop fighting silhouettes. The actual wars are those waged by Boko Haram, kidnappers, armed robbers and treasury looters. And Nigeria has been losing the wars to these evil groups. For all the noise about fighting corruption, nobody has been convicted and sent to prison in the past eight years. The propagandists in the APC are more interested in newspaper trials. I now agree with those who said that the government kept those naira and dollars “discovered” in certain places. That’s why the alleged looters have yet to be named, despite a judgement delivered penultimate week in favour of an NGO, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), against the federal government by a federal high court in Lagos.

In the judgement read by Justice Shagari, the court agreed with SERAP that the federal government has “a legally binding obligation to tell Nigerians the names of all suspected looters of the public treasury, past and present”.

Later on the same day, the FG through Justice Minister Abubakar Malami agreed with the ruling of the court and promised to carry out the order “as long as it does not amount to violation of the rules of the court”. All ears have been open since then. Notorious for doublespeak, the government may not, however, publish the looters’ names as promised. It may be “reminded” of another court ruling.

Meanwhile, in courts government has been losing cases of corruption brought against former and current public officeholders. What is more corrupt than paying idle politicians hefty sums while actual workers and pensioners go home almost empty-handed every month?

In the same vein, terrorists are still wreaking havoc everywhere. Boko Haram keeps killing and sacking innocent people from their homes in the north-east, even after it has been “technically defeated”. Herdsmen are a possible wing of the terrorist group; none has been caught.

The enemy has now pushed the majority of Nigerians to the edge of a precipice. There is nothing else to expect except chaos. That’s why starving Nigerians may soon turn upon one another – they are preparing to start eating one another. Now vulnerable, the impoverished have become tools in the hands of evil politicians.

If only the poor knew their enemy! For instance, the misguided Arewa youths that were sponsored to issue a “quit notice” to the Igbo do not know that there exist tens of thousands of Fulani who were born in several parts of Igbo-land and who speak the dialects of fellow Igbo communities in Ibagwa, Enugu, Aguleri, Aba and other towns. Their great-grandparents migrated to the south-east almost a century ago, and the present “settlers” know no other home as theirs. Similarly, there are Igbo people who were born in Kano, Kafanchan, Jalingo and elsewhere in the north who speak Hausa even better than the natives.


Poll: From Balewa to Buhari

I have always believed that Nigerians – indeed, citizens of every nation – judge the performance of their governments by the amount of good life they enjoy during the tenure of each. And a random poll we conducted recently in Nigeria gives me support. The respondents are people who have lived through the several regimes from 1960 to date.

The results showed an interesting conclusion: no Nigerian leader so far has achieved a pass mark! One unfortunate leader who would have passed is Yakubu Gowon, but the civil war he declared and fought (and which killed 3million of his compatriots) brought his score down to 12% from 50%. Ernest Shonekan, who headed an interim government for less than three months, was not assessed.

The leader of each regime was scored in percentage, from first to last: Umaru Yar’Adua 45%, Murtala Muhammed 43%, Tafawa Balewa 40%, Goodluck Jonathan 40%, JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi 38%, Ibrahim Babangida 35%, Olusegun Obasanjo 31%, Abdulsalami Abubakar 28%, Shehu Shagari 25%, Sani Abacha 23%, Muhammadu Buhari 20%, and Gowon 12%.

Anyone who disagrees with the results should conduct their own poll. I’m afraid the outcome may not be different.


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