■Warns against encroaching on lands in Igbo land as lands are owned by people and deities
■ Asks government to stop a war it cannot win against nationalism bit seek peaceful solution
The apex Igbo Socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has warned those encroaching on lands in Igbo land that there’s no ‘No Man’s land in lgbo land’.
The President General of Ohanaeze, Prof. George Obiozor made this statement when he addressed the press at Ohanaeze Headquarters in Enugu on Thursday, 15th April.
Obiozor maintained that; “Land is a very sensitive issue in Igbo land because land has owners including some lgbo Deities. Those encroaching on land in Alaigbo are provoking Our people and our Deities.”
The Igbo leader also congratulated the governors of the South East for the setting up of the regional security outfit– Ebubeagu, the ban on open grazing and assured that they will rally Igbos across the globe.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo wish to congratulate the Governors for this milestone and assure them of the support of Ndigbo anywhere and everywhere for their eftorts towards the security of Alaigbo. Also, we congratulate them for their emphasis on ban on open grazing across Igbo land.”
Ohanaeze also called on the federal government to exercise caution in the handling of the agitations across the country and warned that the use of force won’t yield the desired result.
We all are aware that we are passing through one of the worse times in virtually all aspects of our national life.
“The Federal Government must therefore learn a lesson from history by not fighting an unwinnable war against nationalism but seek possible peaceful options that are the only solution that guarantees national unity and peaceful co-existence.
“I therefore urge the Federal Government to reconsider the use of force in resolving the present national crises. Again history shows that military and violent means to solve the national question is bound to fail as it leads to further national fractionalization, anarchy and eventual or inevitable disintegration, as in all Empires or multi-national state or countries.
“Nigerian political leaders must make haste and make careful and delicate choices on how to solve Nigerian problem which is Nigeria National question. Above all measures, the Federal Government itself must Conspicuously embrace the values of justice, equity and fairness in their true sense for real peace, progress, unity and development to thrive in Nigeria.
“The greatest problem for leadership anywhere in the world begins when the general public or citizens including members of the national political elite become conscious of the existence of governance based on selective morality, outrageous paradox and double-standard. And at that point, citizen alienation set in and the results are loss of integrity, prestige, diminishing legitimacy and authority of the government. No government should get to the point where the citizens will feel uncomfortable or doubtful about its decisions on matters of the national interest and destiny.
“It is time the Government and people start the healing process. Nigeria is in agony and pains, it is time for national healing,” Obiozor said.
The full press statement is below:
RESTORING THE DIGNITY OF MAN AND HEALING THE NATION
BEING A PRESS CONFERENCE DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT GENERAL OF OHANAEZE NDIGBO WORLDWIDE, AMBASSADOR PROFESSOR GEORGE A OBIOZOR AT THE OHANAEZE HEADQUARTERS, NO 7 PARK AVENUE, GRA, ENUGU ON THURSDAY APRIL 15, 2021.
I welcome you all to the headquarters of Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide. Let me thank all the journalists here for the very robust relationship and solidarity you have demonstrated since we came on board in January 2021 as the elected officers of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
It gives me great pleasure to once again address all of you on key national issues. I had assured you that from time to time we shall always assemble in this Ohanaeze Ndigbo Secretariat for an interactive session. It is my belief that a sustained partnership with the press will help to promote the lofty agenda of the current executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. You are welcome.
To begin with the greatest news I bring to you today is the heartwarming and overwhelming reception of Ndigbo of the news of the formation of Ebubeagu, a zonal security apparatus by the South-east Governors for the security of the south-east zone. Ohanaeze Ndigbo wish to congratulate the Governors for this milestone and assure them of the support of Ndigbo anywhere and everywhere for their efforts towards the security of Alaigbo. Also we congratulate them for their emphasis on ban on open grazing across Igbo land.
Once more, I state that there is no No Man’s land in Igbo land. Land is a very sensitive issue in Igbo land because land has owners including some Igbo Deities. Those encroaching on land in Alaigbo are provoking our people and our Deities.
We all are aware that we are passing through one of the worse times in virtually all aspects of our national life. General Murtala Ramat Muhammed over 4 decades ago succinctly captured the mood of our nation today in his message to the National Episcopal Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops held at Onitsha on September 9-14, 1975. “For too long we have paid lip service to the issue of remoulding our society, far too long, we have talked glibly in the past of the birth of a new nation while our nation continued to burn leaving big scars on our image as a people.
Now distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is another critical time to rethink, reflect and to act before the prophecy of the late Chinua Achebe’s book “Nigeria: There was a country” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of a national reality and a national tragedy foretold. Sub- national consciousness or ethnocentric nationalism which is a dangerous form of nationalism to national unity and empires has taken over Nigeria, the dream of Nigeria unity is receding and fading fast with violence, crises and conflicts.
The result of all these is the rise of ethnic militias, agitation for secession, self-determination, insurgency, banditry, etc. These are historical protracted and unwinnable wars by nations and empires and there will be no exception. And among every other issue in contest in Nigeria today, this situation has produced the state of insecurity throughout the country. Today, Nigerians have no place to hide and also since there is nothing new in history, history has solution for these national problems. The Federal Government must therefore learn a lesson from history by not fighting an unwinnable war against nationalism but seek possible peaceful options that are the only solution that guarantees national unity and peaceful co-existence.
I therefore urge the Federal Government to reconsider the use of force in resolving the present national crises. Again history shows that military and violent means to solve the national question is bound to fail as it leads to further national fractionalization, anarchy and eventual or inevitable disintegration, as in all Empires or multi
national state or countries. Nigerian political leaders must make haste and make careful and delicate choices on how to solve Nigerian problem which is Nigeria National question. Above all measures, the Federal Government itself must Conspicuously embrace the values of justice, equity and fairness in their true sense for real peace, progress, unity and development to thrive in Nigeria. The greatest problem for leadership anywhere in the world begins when the general public or citizens including members of the national political elite become conscious of the existence of governance based on selective morality, outrageous paradox and double-standard. And at that point, citizen alienation set in and the results are loss of integrity, prestige, diminishing legitimacy and authority of the government. No government should get to the point where the citizens will feel uncomfortable or doubtful about its decisions on matters of national interest and destiny.
It is time the government and people start the healing process, Nigeria is in agony and pains, it is time for national healing.
The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, on Sunday declared that the Eastern Security Network, ESN, will soon storm the Northern part of Nigeria.
IPOB’s spokesman, Emma Powerful stated this in response to claims that Miyetti Allah was planning to deploy 5, 000 security operatives to the Southeast to protect herders.
Powerful described the plan as an insult which would not be allowed to stand in the Southeast.
The IPOB spokesman warned that the group would take drastic actions if such step is taken.
A statement by Powerful reads partly: “The attention of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, has been drawn to the threat by MIYETTI ALLAH to deploy 5000 jihadists to Biafra land to protect their cows and herders following the floating of Ebubeagu security outfit by South East governors.
“We consider this utterance as an insult to the entire Biafra and won’t tolerate it despite our grievances against the treacherous South East governors and the political elite.
“The South East Governors must understand that federal government of Nigeria sponsored Miyetti Allah to make this reckless utterance. The earlier they understand that IPOB is not their problem, the better. They should stop betraying us but appreciate our sacrifices in the defense of our ancestral land.
“The Miyetti Allah and their terrorists group should know that they shouldn’t play God for ever. They are trying to provoke ESN and IPOB to take a drastic action. IPOB and ESN are running out of patience with their insults. They should retrace their steps now! Let them come, we are waiting for them. Soon they will see ESN in the North.”
■Warns FG: Don’t push Nigeria to disintegrate, Ohanaeze warns FG
Ohanaeze Ndigbo has declared support for both the Ebube Agu security outfit formed by South East governors and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) floated by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) to tackle security threats in the South East.
President General of the apex Igbo body, Prof. George Obiozor, stated this at a press conference in Enugu, yesterday, Thursday, April 15, 2021.
“He also assured that there would be no clash between members of Eastern Security Network (ESN) floated by Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and Ebube Agu as long as they worked for the protection of Igbo,” a report by Daily Sun said.
It quoted Prof. Obiozor as advising the Federal Government against the use of violent means to quell national questions by Nigerians as it could lead to more fragmentation and possible disintegration of the country.
Obiozor, according to the report, said the rise in ethnocentric nationalism has made the dream of national unity to be fading fast in the country.
He was further quoted as saying that Nigerians are passing through “one of the worst times in virtually all aspects of national life” citing the rise in ethnic militias, agitation for secession, self-determination, insurgency, banditry as having “produced the state of insecurity throughout the country.
“The Federal Government,” according to the Ohanaeze President General, “must therefore learn a lesson from history by not fighting an unwinnable war against nationalism, but seek possible peaceful options that are the only solution that guarantees national unity and peaceful co-existence. I urge the Federal Government to reconsider the use of force in resolving the present national crises. Again, history shows that military and violent means to solve the national question is bound to fail as it leads to further national fractionalisation, anarchy and eventual or inevitable disintegration.” (News Express)
The operation, which involved deployment of military helicopters using missile launchers, left scores of unarmed civilians dead and property said to worth billions of naira destroyed.
At least 50 unarmed civilians have been allegedly killed by military men in Shangev-Tiev, Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State following reports that two soldiers were missing in the community, multiple sources told SaharaReporters on Thursday.
SaharaReporters gathered that the soldiers went missing during a routine patrol in the community days after a communal crisis between towns in Konshisha and Oju LGAs.
According to reports, three soldiers were initially missing but one of them was later found.
It was learnt that troops of the Operation Whirl-Stroke (OPWS) on Wednesday and Thursday morning invaded the community.
The operation, which involved deployment of military helicopters using missile launchers, left scores of unarmed civilians dead and property said to worth billions of naira destroyed.
About 200 houses including the palace of Tyoor Unaha Kôkô in Agidi and several cars in village, which is now deserted were set ablaze by the soldiers.
Narrating the dastard act to SaharaReporters, a youth leader said, “We have lost over 50 unarmed civilians, more than five of my family members have been killed by the Nigerian Army. There are no bandits in Shangev-Tiev, a military General in Makurdi is using the Army to support his tribe in an age-long war over boundary demarcation.
“For over 3 days now, unarmed civilians have come under Nigeria military attack non-stop. Fulanis controlling the Armed Forces of Nigeria are assisting their numerous footsoldiers mobilised by Miyetti Allah in terrorising the civilians.
“They keep killing and destroying properties. How can you use fighter jet on harmless and armless citizens while negotiating ransom with bandit and terrorists?
“As we talk now, most residents have deserted their homes and are taking refuge at Tse- Agbaragba.”
Another resident asked the government to redeploy the soldiers ravaging the community to the various highways where the Boko Haram and herdsmen are presently terrorising and killing Nigerians.
He said, “Its quite sad amidst insecurity in other parts of Benue, Konshisha will be targeted by security personnels. My village has been reduced to ashes for no reason. This is not a Boko Haram. There is massive destruction and killing spree going on. The aged, women and children are not left out, among those killed and displaced. What human sense would warrant such attack and destruction?
“For days now, our people have been under flames, displaced and are massacred.“
Another resident said, “My grandfather’s house is in ruins, I hear. 2001, the Army burnt my fathers village and murdered my people. 20 years later, the Army is burning down my mothers home. 20 years after Zaki Biam, the Army has returned to Benue in the same fashion. This is not the way to go.”
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom has pledged to return peace to Konshisha and Oju while briefing journalists after an expanded Security Council Meeting with stakeholders from the two local government areas.
Ortom, who reiterated the need for Benue people to support security agents deployed to end crisis in their areas, admonished the people against attacks on security agents, which would make the situation extremely difficult to contain.
He explained that as part of measures to nip the land dispute between Konshisha and Oju in the bud, it was agreed that the boundary be demarcated and a day was fixed for the exercise.
According to the governor, a few days to the agreed date, crisis erupted again and security agents were deployed to control its escalation when the troops sent to Konshisha came under attack with two military personnel still missing.
Ortom condemned the practice of some communities engaging militia to fight their neighbours. He, however, vowed that such merchants of violence would be made to face the consequences of their actions. (Sahara reporters)
With growing insecurity across the country, secessionist agitations and ethno-religious crisis, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has warned that Nigeria is heading for the brink, urging that there is an urgent need to pull it back.
“Despite huge human and material resources the country is heading for the brinks and there is an urgent need to pull it back from this catastrophe,” he said in a letter inviting leaders of opinion to a town hall meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Kaduna.
Also concerned by the raging strife across the land, the Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd)-led National Peace Committee (NPC) is also convening a meeting today in Abuja to discuss the way forward. Nigeria has recently witnessed increasing insecurity, leading to the killing of security agents and innocent citizens by bandits.
The security crisis has made many Nigerians and members of the international community to express concerns about the state of the nation. Mohammed, in a letter, inviting prominent Nigerians for a town hall meeting in Kaduna tomorrow said the manifestations of the general state of insecurity in the country, especially with secessionist narrative, crass politicisation of ethnic and religious differences need to be addressed urgently. He said with the situation, the country is heading for the brink.
He said: “As you may observe, Nigeria has failed to manage its diversity. Despite huge human and material resources the country is heading for the brink and there is an urgent need to pull it back from this catastrophe.
“Increasingly, we are seeing this lack of capacity to manage our diversity manifesting in a general state of insecurity as witnessed in the heightened incidences of farmers/herders clashes, Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, ethno-religious clashes and intolerance, cultism, drug addiction and kidnapping.
“Closely tied to all these are the dangerous threat to the unity of the country and its continued existence as one indivisible nation. But the story of Nigeria has not always been this negative. How did we get here and what can we do to change the narrative to present our country in the best of light? This requires teamwork, reflecting all diversities, leveraging on all our collective creativity to pursue with diligence the project of rescuing Nigeria.’’
Mohammed added that the correct starting point towards addressing the problems is building an elite consensus on the security, unity, indissolubility and peaceful existence of Nigeria. He said such elite consensus had worked in the past and there is a need to find out why it is not working again as well as to proffer solutions because Nigeria is truly at a tipping point.
In the invitation letters sent to many opinion moulders nationwide, the minister said a broad-based and inclusive town hall meeting has been fixed for Kaduna tomorrow to discuss some of the manifestations of the general state of insecurity in the country, especially with secessionist narrative, crass politicisation of ethnic and religious differences.
“The proposed town hall meeting will aim at developing concrete implementable resolutions because a lot of theoretical talks and postulation had taken place with little or no requisite outcome. “The event will be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari. Reputable scholar, Prof. Jibril Ibrahim, will be the lead presenter and will set the tone for discussion with Prof. Saka Nuru, Prof. Chudi Uwazurike and Prof Kokunre Eghafonaas as guest discussants,’’ the letter stated.
The meeting is expected to be attended by the leadership of the legislature, governors, ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, service chiefs, Inspector-General of Police, heads of security agencies, religious and traditional leaders and members of the international community amongst others.
Similarly, the Abdulsalami-led peace committee has also scheduled a meeting of prominent leaders for today in Abuja to address what it described as the “escalating spate of insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, regional agitations, the killing of innocent citizens and other forms of violence.’’ It added that the vexed issues have continued to cause deep concern to well-meaning citizens at home and abroad. NPC said it had been receiving requests from Nigerians, urging it to intervene. (ThisDay)
Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has condemned the incessant criminal terrorism and security detoriation in Igbo land.
A statement by MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu said alleged that “acts of criminal terrorism by the so called unknown gunmen being perpetrated in our land against government facilities, security agents and some prominent individuals are being sponsored by enemies of Ndigbo.
MASSOB condemned the terrorist attack against Chukwuma Soludo at Isuofia; “we equally condemn the unwarranted killings of Ebonyi state indigenous citizens by Fulani terrorist heardsmen. MASSOB condemn in totality, the breaking of Owerri prison by the so called unknown gunmen.
“Through MASSOB intelligence Agency, we found out that all these attacks are being sponsored and executed by federal government of Nigeria through their protected militiamen called bandits and unknown gunmen.
“Their primary aim is to discredit non violence pro Biafra freedom fighters like MASSOB and IPOB. They want to create an erroneous impression that pro Biafra agitators have turned violent and militant.
“How can untrained and amatures with no military training overpower the entire security apparatus of Nigeria in South East? Why is it that there was no security resistance during the breaking up of owerri prisons and Imo State police headquarters in an operation that lasted more than one hour.
“Nigeria military cantonment, Obinze Owerri is seven minutes drive to the scenes of the crime, Imo State MOPOL base is three minutes drive to the scenes of the crime but no resistance from security agencies.
“The terrorist attacks in Owerri are part of the ongoing destructive measures by the President Muhamadu Buhari led administration to discredit and blackmail the pro Biafra organizations to create an erroneous impression that Biafrans are waging war against Nigeria. Igbo land is the most peaceful and unterrorised region.
“MASSOB advises Governor Hope Uzodinma to stop heaping blames on IPOB or ESN or any other pro Biafra organization. Pro Biafra agitators are not responsible for all the terrorist activities in Igbo land. President Muhamadu Buhari and his Fulani cabals are responsible. The fulani commissioners of police and military chiefs in Igbo land are partners in these terrorist activities in Biafra land.
“They will never stop until they achieve their desired aim. More destructive attacks will still come unless Southeast governors and other political, traditional and opinion leaders of Igbo land quickly convene a security meeting where critical stakeholders will put a a lasting strategy that will stop these devastative implosion coming to Biafra land.
“The federal government is plotting to militralised the entire Biafra land in disguise of searching for pro Biafra agitators. They are planning to intimidate and inflict fear on our people to frustrate Ndigbo from clamouring for 2023 presidency.”
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah on Sunday berated the current administration for its handling of Nigeria’s security challenges, saying Boko Haram terrorists are consuming the nation under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch.
Kukah in his 2021 Easter message titled, ‘Before our glory departs’, recalled that President Buhari had in 2015 described Boko Haram insurgents as a typical case of small fires causing large fires.
“On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, at his swearing-in as President of Nigeria, said: Boko Haram is a typical case of small fires causing large fires,” Kukah said.
“Now, before his watch, the fires are consuming the nation, and in many instances, they indeed start small.
“In all, Nigeria’s troubles are growing by the day, but our hands must remain stretched out in supplication.”
Bishop Kukah also blamed those in power for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country, noting that insecurity keeps deteriorating because the ruling class pays more attention to rehabilitating bandits and kidnappers than the victims.
He expressed concern over the killing of security operatives and the “helplessness” of the citizens, saying: “Taunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation, there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart! Retired military and intelligence officers lament over what has become of their glorious profession as they watch the humiliation of our military personnel.
“Traumatised citizens are tortured daily by bandits. The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly.
“A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hangs in the hot air. We have no message and have no idea how long this will last. Our people seek solace and protection, but frustration and darkness threaten to drown them. Is their government on AWOL?”
SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:
NIGERIA: BEFORE OUR GLORY DEPARTS
EASTER MESSAGE, April 4th 2021
By Matthew Hassan KUKAH, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese
If a religious leader is afraid to say what is right, what else can his silence mean but that he has taken flight? Hiding behind a wall of silence is like taking flight at the approach of the wolf.
Pope St. Gregory the Great (540–604 AD)
1: Easter Sunday is here again. But first, let us step back to Friday.
Good Friday was a Kairos moment for the beleaguered followers of Jesus, a defining moment that separated truth from falsehood and light from the darkness. At Golgotha, Jesus remained silent when the first thief taunted Him, and when bystanders scornfully asked him to demonstrate His divine powers by coming down from the cross. Everything about Christ–the prophecies of His birth, His life on earth, the miracles He performed, the sermons He preached, His torture and subsequent death–now hung languidly on a wooden cross on the hill of Golgotha. There were two types of persons at Golgotha: observers and waiters. The observers had two characteristics, derision and curiosity.
The waiters were characterised by hope, fear, and anxiety. Both sides watched and waited with bated breath. After His ignominious death, everything now depended on the third day. After all, He had said He would rise after three days (Mk. 9:31).
2: Let us pause and look back at the earlier events in the life of Jesus. Let us look briefly at the drama of the three temptations of Jesus by the devil as recorded by St. Matthew. First, the devil has a sense of perfect timing when he approached Jesus. He knows that Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights without food and was hungry (Mt. 4:2). Prove that you are the Son of God: turn these stones into bread, he said (Mt. 4:3). In response, Jesus says: Man will not live on bread alone (Mt. 4:4). Here, Jesus insists
that there are higher goals for us to live or die for. The devil had hoped that like the dictators of today, Jesus could seduce the people with the bread of temporal power to gain cheap followership. No, Jesus says, you must set a higher moral goal.
Second, the devil asks Jesus to throw himself down the cliff. After all, he tells Jesus, the Angels of God will hold you (Mt. 4:6). Here, Jesus is called to take a shortcut to fame.
Why travel the hard road of suffering, sacrifice, exclusion, and powerlessness? Succumb to the seduction of the dreamer, the charmer, climb the actor’s shoulder. And then what next? Jesus rejects this temptation. Why? Because God demands more than theatrical performances from us.
Third, the devil says he will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (money, power, territory) only if He bows and acknowledges him (Mt. 4:8). Wow! No better evidence that the devil is a liar. He knows he has no kingdom and what he has is his kingdom of darkness and lies. It was in this same manner that the devil deceived Eve at the Garden of Eden by mixing a concoction of lies. At the base of this temptation is the seduction of pride and power. God knows that the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God (Gen. 3:5). Think of the many who have sold their souls for ephemeral power, those who have denied Jesus by action so as to ascend the throne of power. By His resistance to the devil, Jesus shows that following His path will require tremendous sacrifice.
3: It’s now Saturday night. The clock is ticking. Will He or will He not rise as He said?
No one knows what to expect. Will Jesus be exposed as a fraud? The Apostles are retired, desolate, forlorn, woebegone, and despondent. Has it all come to nothing? Have they lost everything? Has it all just been an illusion? Was Peter right when he asked what their reward would be, having forgone everything to follow Him? (Mt. 19:27) Has this been one wild goose chase? Where would they turn to now? The sun gradually sets
on Saturday. The night has in its womb, a combination of the derision and curiosity binding the observers and waiters. A cloud of trepidation envelopes everywhere. The Roman authorities have built a concrete wall of military security around the grave. They sealed the stone and placed heavy military guard just in case, as they feared, His followers come and steal the body and pretend that He had risen (Mt. 27: 64).
4: Sunday morning would seal the fate of everyone on both sides.
As it turns out, the world forgot that: He who guards Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4). Before daybreak, a woman, Mary Magdalene, visits the grave to perform a simple ritual. To her shock, she finds an empty tomb! (Jn. 20:1). Slowly, painfully, unbelievably, the words go out: They have taken the body of the Lord away and we do not know where they have put Him (Jn. 20:2). They will soon realise that, indeed, His resurrection is only a fulfilment of what He had promised during His lifetime. The devil has been defeated, and the Lord has the final word. Truth has drowned falsehood. Light has overcome darkness. Good has triumphed over evil. Life has defeated death.
5: The Roman soldiers who stood guard over the grave were like dead men (Mt. 28:3).
However, rather than face punishment, the Roman authorities offered to bribe them and asked them to lie that the Lord’s body had been stolen while they were sleeping! (Mt. 28:13). It is too late: The Lord is risen indeed! World history succumbs to the power of the Creator of heaven and earth. Time and space have merged. History’s calendar is split into two. Henceforth, everything will be marked by whether it happened before or after the resurrection of Jesus Christ! This is what Christians celebrate today. But what is the implication of all this for us in Nigeria today?
6: Nigeria’s current predicament reminds me of Israel’s situation that led to the death of Eli, the great High Priest of Israel. Israel’s defeat in the hands of the Philistines led to the death of 30,000 soldiers. The two sons of the 98-year-old priest – Hophni and Phinehas – died in the battle. Eli’s two sons had foolishly carried the Ark of the Lord into the battlefield for protection, only for it to become a trophy for the victorious Philistines.
The high priest, Eli, collapsed and died after hearing this horrible news. Elsewhere, on hearing about the death of her husband, her father- in-law, and the loss of the Ark, Eli’s daughter-in-law went into premature labour. She was delivered of a baby boy–a call for great celebration in Israel! Strangely, she responded by naming her newborn son “Ichabod,” meaning, The glory has departed!
7: Taunted by Boko Haram, ravaged by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other merchants of death across the nation, there is collective fear as to whether Nigeria’s glory is about to depart! Retired military and intelligence officers lament over what has become of their glorious profession as they watch the humiliation of our military personnel. Traumatised citizens are tortured daily by bandits. The nation has since become a massive killing field, as both government and the governed look on helplessly. A thick and suffocating cloud of desperation, despondency, desolation, gloom, and misery hangs in the hot air. We have no message and have no idea how long this will last. Our people seek solace and protection, but frustration and darkness threaten to drown them. Is their government on AWOL?
8: Two weeks ago, I came across a video in which a very frustrated Muslim cleric, addressing a Muslim audience, lamented: If you killed 200 chickens in the farm of any of the big farmers, you will be dealt with. But today, we are being killed. It is your fault. On the day of elections, you say, it is Jihad! Christians will take over Nigeria! Ok, the Christians did not take Nigeria. It has been left in the hands of those who sit and see us being killed. If we are killed, the head says, God forbid! He was not elected to say God forbid. This imaginary jihad won the elections now where are the jihadists? The lesson here is that politicians will use religion to mobilise for elections, but they cannot use it to govern.
9: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria weighed in with a strong statement on February 23, 2021, titled, We Must Pull Back from the Brink of Collapse. Part of the statement read: The very survival of the nation is at stake. The nation is pulling apart.
Widespread serious insecurity for long unaddressed has left the sad and dangerous impressions that those who have assumed the duty and authority to secure the nation are either unable or worse, unwilling to take up the responsibilities to their office.
Patience is running out. Sadly, all of these warnings are still falling on deaf ears.
10: It may sound strange, but for us Christians, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ is the greatest assurance that all these will pass away. This is not a call for us to simply sit on our hands or believe we can pray our crises away. As pointed out above, the sufferings of Jesus and His Cross provide us with the perfect mirror of our hope. St. Paul reminds us: We are hard-pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (2 Cor. 4:9). These are the hallmarks of our faith. We must remain steadfast.
11: I appeal to Christians to continue in the spirit of the Gospel, the teachings of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. St. Paul says: Though He was God, he humbled himself, became man and remained obedient up till death (Phil. 2:6ff). Following in His steps, we Christians have lived through the life of martyrdom. Jesus taught us how to pray for our enemies (Mt. 5:44). Although His teachings are hard (Jn. 6:60), it was not the guns of a powerful army that brought down the walls of Jericho. The prayers of the priests did (Jos. 6:20). Jesus defied the temptations of coming down from the Cross. He knew there was a higher truth deferred. It was fulfilled on Easter day. No matter the provocation, we must arm ourselves with the weapons of truth, the Word, the Spirit, and love. At the heart of Christianity is the Truth and Love.
12: Today, many of us erroneously speak about the trial of Jesus by Pilate on Good Friday. In reality, it was Pilate who stood trial, not Jesus. Pilate sat on a throne to judge what he himself was ignorant of–the truth. Chained by ignorance, the powerful often grope around a twilight zone between truth and lies. At the mention of the word “Truth” by Jesus, Pilate was jolted from his chair. In trepidation and apprehension, the mighty man says, Truth, what is that? (Jn. 18:38). Pilate was looking for the Truth but did not recognise it when it stood right before him. In every age, the seduction of raw power tends to blind the Pilates of this world to the truth.
13: When governments face legitimacy crises, they fall back on serving the sour broth of propaganda, half-truths, and outright lies. They manufacture consent by creating imaginary enemies, setting citizens against one another by deploying religion, ethnicity, region, and other platforms while appealing to the base emotions of patriotism. We forget the reality that without truth, the throne of power often turns into a cage, and the occupant is turned into a prisoner. In reality, the truth needs neither a judge nor a witness. The truth is its own judge and witness. Without the truth, as the old song says, all else is sinking sand!
14: Recently, according to the World Happiness Report, we are one of the unhappiest nations in the world. This is unacceptable but understandable. Our clay-footed fight against corruption has not moved the needle of transparency forward. Of course, being the poverty capital of the world comes with its rewards such as banditry, violence, death, sorrow, blood, poverty, misery, and tears. Our cup of sorrow is permanently full; hence the exponential rise in the frustration curve across the country.
15: Sadly, human life is haemorrhaging so badly in Nigeria, but the greatest tragedy is the death of empathy from those in power. Mysteriously, the government is investing billions of naira in rehabilitating so-called Boko Haram repentant members and their other partners in crime in the belief that they want to turn a new leaf. These criminals have waged war against their country, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered entire families permanently displaced and dislocated. Why should rehabilitating the perpetrator be more important than bringing succour to the victims?
16: When kidnapped or killed, victims and their families are left to their wits. They cry alone, bury their loved ones alone. And our government expects us to be patriotic? The victims of violence need empathy, which the dictionary defines as the ability to understand and share the feelings of the other. A critical deficit of empathy on the side of the government makes healing almost impossible for the victims. We have not heard anything about a rehabilitation programme for the thousands of schoolchildren who have been victims of abduction. We seem to assume that their return to their schools is sufficient. Left unaddressed, the traumatic effect of their horrors will haunt them for a long time. Tomorrow’s parents, military generals, top security men and women, governors, senators, and ministers will come from today’s pool of traumatised children.
The security quandary is the greatest indictment of this government.
17: There is a time for everything under the sun (Eccl. 3:1). Perhaps, we can paraphrase this by saying there is a time for war and a time for peace. There is a time for poverty and a time for wealth. There is a time for stealing and a time for returning what has been stolen. There is a time for politics and a time for governance. There is a time for tethering to the brink of chaos and a time for recovering the soul of a nation.
There is a time for the collapse of morality and a time for moral recovery. There is a time for leadership and a time for statesmanship. There is a time for losing greatness and a time for achieving greatness. Nigeria must now ask itself: What is left of our glory? Where are the values that held us together?
18: On our national Coat of Arms, we profess our motto to be: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. But let us ask ourselves: Is Nigeria united today? Do citizens still have faith in the country? Where are the signs of peace or progress? Today, before our very eyes, these words have been emptied of their flavour and have lost their resonance and capacity to summon our citizens to patriotism. St Augustine once said: Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale? He further said that: A gang is a group of men (and women) under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. This is the fate of our nation today. Day by day, Nigeria drifts irreversibly into a dark tunnel. Things are falling apart with unnerving rapidity because those who govern have only a pact to protect their interests. Politics is merely its conveyor belt of ambition. Nigeria has a date with destiny. If we do not turn around, The axe is alreadylaid to the roots of the tree (Mt. 3:10).
19: With some chance, we might pull through this, but it is getting tougher each passing day. Does anyone remember where we started and how we got here? On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, at his swearing-in as President of Nigeria, said: Boko Haram is a typical case of small fires causing large fires. Now, before his watch, the fires are consuming the nation, and in many instances, they indeed start small. The rumblings over the wearing of a hijab in Kwara State suggest that we have not seen the end of individuals sacrificing national cohesion to feed their personal ambitions by starting small fires. Most politicians hardly think through the long-term effects of these pyrrhic victories of using religion. What started as a small fire with adoption of Sharia in Zamfara in 1999, spread across the northern states. Ordinary people broke into ecstatic joy. Today, what has become of the north? What are the lessons?
20: In all, Nigeria’s troubles are growing by the day, but our hands must remain stretched out in supplication. Prophet Isaiah’s words should give us hope and consolation. He said: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Isaiah 43:2). We shall lift our eyes to the mountain because we know that our help shall come from the Lord (Ps. 121:1). As Christians, we do not trust in God because we cannot revenge. We do not revenge because we trust in God. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still (Ex. 14:14). Just as the chains of death could not hold Jesus in the grave, so shall we triumph. Break into shouts of joy together, O ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has consoled his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem (Isaiah 52:9). Have hope and be cheerful (Rom. 12:12).
As the country’s insecurity challenges deepen, a former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ozo Celestine Okoye, yesterday raised fresh alarm over the presence of heavily armed Fulani herdsmen with AK- 47 rifles, occupying a total of 332 Fulani settlements across the five states in the South Eastern zone with the intention of attacking the region in the foreseeable future. According to Okoye, in an exclusively interview with Saturday Telegraph, the Fulani herdsmen in the South East are more located in Ebony, Anambra, Enugu and Abia states while trying to make inroad into Imo State.
“I wonder what our governors are doing about the heavy presence of heavily armed Fulani herdsmen in Igboland and I am worried because I am an Igbo man from Awka, Anambra State. “Why are they pretending about it even when they know? In Imo State they have taken over Okigwe town and some parts of Abia State close to Imo State and they are heavily armed.
“Ebony State has the largest number of Fulani settlements in the South East and their presence is dangerous to the people of the area.
“If you go to Amansea border towns of Anambra State and Isiagu town in Anambra State they are building permanent settlements that, is houses, claiming that they bought the land from the owners and one wonders what would happen when they launch the planned attack.”
Okoye further said that the Fulani settlements are at the border towns of the five South East states, an indication that Igbo land is under siege by the strangers. “As a security operative when such elements are setting at the border towns, it means that the owners of the land are not safe and that means that when they launch their attacks you have nowhere to run to because you are under siege and there is nothing you can do about it,” he stated.
He further said that the governors of the South East should be proactive in the area of security, adding that with such a development, Ndigbo is as good as conquered by the Fulani herdsmen.
“No matter how we see it we have an impending crisis in our hands capable of making the South East ungovernable and it is high time our governors woke up to the looming security crisis in the South East and nip it in the bud,” warned the former DIG.
Okoye contended that the claims by security operatives that they are on top of the situation is merely lips service aimed at calming down the panic even as he insisted that if nothing is done, Ndigbo would be found wanting. “Our vigilante groups and traditional rulers should be vigilant and ready for any eventuality and our governors should assist them before we would be caught napping with nowhere to run to and nothing to do to save our people,” he said.
When contacted, the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga, disclosed to our reporter that the command is on top of any attempt to disturb the peace in the area, adding that rumours mongers are out to create unnecessary tension in the state.
The Presidency says it has uncovered the Nigerians who are transferring money to Boko Haram terrorists from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant To The President On Media and Publicity, disclosed this when he featured on a Channels Television programme.
Completion of Apo-Karshi road not feasible for now, FCT minister makes U-turn Garba Shehu: Why Buhari didn’t transmit power to Osinbajo The Presidential spokesman, who said some Bureau De Change operators were facilitating transfer of money to terrorists, added that Nigerians will be shocked when details of the investigation are revealed.
He said some persons have been arrested in connection with the incident.
“Bureaus de change are facilitating money to terrorists. We have already worked with the UAE,” he said.
“Convictions have been achieved of Nigerians who are transferring money to Boko Haram terrorists and this also happens domestically. And I tell you that by the time we finish this investigation, the shocking details will surprise many Nigerians.”
Earlier in the week, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, had said there is a link between kidnapping, banditry and terrorism.