How wonderful and beautiful our world would have been if all men could recognise the lawfulness in life and strive unremittingly to key into it. Lawlessness and conflicts are antithesis of lawfulness. These arise where rules and regulations are bent or disregarded. This means that any deviation from lawfulness leads to lawlessness and the concomitant conflicts, disorderliness often referred to as chaos and confusion. All of these manifest in different forms—banditry, killings, kidnapping and corruption. These are the issues Nigeria is grappling with in the present time. What is the attitude of the Nigerian government to the state of insecurity that has swept through the country, the ensuing chaos and confusion in the horizon? The summary of the speech Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah delivered at the funeral of Michael Nnadi, a seminarian who died at the hands of kidnappers is that this country since the civil war has never had it so bad.
Bishop Kukah said on the occasion: “We have gathered around the remains of Michael in supplication but also as solemn witnesses to the penetrating darkness that hovers over our country.” For chroniclers of happenings in the country, there can be no debating it. No sensible and sensitive person can continue to live in denial of the enormity of the security challenge our country is facing. Here is a situation that warranted a person of the eminence of Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye in Christendom to carry a protest placard and march through the streets with his congregation. Whoever knows well would testify to it that carrying a placard is the last thing if ever at all to cross his mind since he dropped his lessons notes to face his ministry in 1982 after teaching mathematics at Unilag and the University of Ilorin.
Some of the placards read: “All Creatures are Created Equal”; “Every Life Matters”; “It’s Inhuman, Don’t Take Life.” The situation must have gotten to the hilt of unbearable disgust to move Adeboye to participate in such street marching other than to proselytize, as he is wont to say, “fishing for souls for Christ.” It is unbelievable that it was in this atmosphere of anguish and disillusionment that President Buhari jetted out to attend conferences in Addis Ababa purportedly in the interest of Nigeria and Africa! And you begin to wonder: “Doesn’t the President have advisers to say travelling at that time was inauspicious?” In such moments, my mind can’t but race to President Barrack Obama. What would he have done under these harrowing circumstances to his countrymen and women? Not only would Obama have been present at the graveside, his inspirational pronouncement and homily would be the balm to heal the wounds and souls for the rest of the year. If President Buhari had cancelled his attendance at the AU conference, it would have dramatized to the whole world the gravity of the situation at home and how seriously he was tackling it. He would not need to appeal to African leaders, particularly those from West Africa, for collaboration to tackle insurgency; they would on their own realise and state that Nigerian problems are their own problems as well.
Bishop Kukah was to remind us of Candidate Buhari promise when he spoke at Chatham House in London in his quest for the presidency, just before the elections of 2015. He did say in part to the policy Think Tank, recalled Bishop Kukah: “I as a retired general and former head of state have always known about our soldiers. They are capable and they are well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty. If I am elected president, the world will have no reason to worry about Nigeria. Nigeria will return to its stabilizing role in West Africa….We will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes …We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester. And I, Muhammad Buhari, will always lead from the front.” Leading from the front ought to encompass demonstratively sharing in the pains, the agony and fears of the led, his compatriots. The impression the president created with the trip to Addis Ababa was: “Well, it is a pity. It’s one of those things!” And life goes on! There are certain deaths the world would consider one too many. The deaths of the CAN chairman and that of Michael Nnadi would count among those that would be regarded as one death too many in view of the circumstances in which they occurred
In the midst of the controversy with the undertones of sectarian divide in the land, the president said about 90 per cent of those killed by the terrorists were Moslems. The epicentre of the terrorist attacks, indeed, the theatre of war has been North East since 2009. The population in the zone is predominantly Moslem. It should stand to reason, therefore, that if deaths occur as we have witnessed, given the size of the population, the victims would come more from Moslems.
However, the clearly stated objective of the terrorists is to eliminate non-believers and liberal Moslems and institute an Islamic State. Even if it were true, logically, the timing of a presidential intervention matters. In this case, Buhari’s pronouncement was ill-timed. It rankles; it hurts; it does not heal wounds. It does not provide succour. It was uncalled for. We could not have had any evidence of the anguish than as demonstrated in Bishop Matthew Kukah’s exceedingly touching speech of two days ago at the funeral of the young and promising Seminarian Michael Nnadi cut down in his prime when he accused the president of the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing the country’s rich diversity.
In his words, the bishop said: “No one could have imagined that in winning the presidency …his government would be marked by supremacist and divisive policies that would push our country to the brink. This president has displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our country’s diversity. He has subordinated the larger interests of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women. The impression created now is that to hold a key and strategic position in Nigeria, it is more important to be a Northern Muslim than to be a Nigerian.”
He was not done: “This is the moment that separates darkness from light, good from evil. Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids. Today, our years of hypocrisy, duplicity, fabricated integrity, false piety, empty morality, fraud and pharisaism have caught up with us. Nigeria is at the crossroads and its future hangs precariously in the balance. As St. Paul reminds us: ‘The night is far spent, and the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light (Rom.13:12).’ It is time to confront and dispel the clouds of evil that hovers over us.”
Indeed, the lacerating words of the prophets of yore! The words from the pulpit as in the days of old when a land is at a crossroads! Bishop Kukah then went on to give a message of hope and words of encouragement to his congregation and the mourners around the country. Before then he made us to know how the world felt about the death of Nnadi. He said after passing information to a staffer of Aid to the Church in need, Maria Lozano, she sent him the message that when she asked the world to light candle for Michael on the day of his burial, 2436 persons from Afghanistan, Pakistan, United States of America, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Madagascar, South Africa, Congo, Mali, Spain, Turkey and south Africa responded. Germany alone had a total of 3,305 persons in a matter of hours! “Nigeria needs to pause for a moment and think. No one more than the President of Nigeria, Major-General Muhammad Buhari who was voted for in 2015 on the grounds of his own promises to rout Boko Haram and place the country on an even keel….” Muslim scholars, traditional rulers and intellectuals, the bishop said, “have continued to cry out helplessly, asking their religion and region to be freed from this chokehold…”
Kukah’s admonition is that Christians are to use moral weapons only to defend their faith. “We must become more robust in presenting the values of Christianity, especially our message of love and non-violence to a violent society. Among the wolves of the world, we must become more politically alert, wise as the serpent and humble as the dove…There is hope, my dear friends. Are we angry? Yes, we are. Are we sad? Of course, we are. Do we feel betrayed? You bet. Do we know what to do? Definitely…But what would Christ have us do? The only way he has pointed out to us is the non-violent way. It is the road less travelled, but the only way…trials of every sort come our way, but we are not discouraged.” These are words of a mature and patriotic human being to douse tension in the land and heal wounds.