President Muhammadu Buhari’s opinion article on politico-religious issues in Nigeria published in “churchtimes.co.uk” on November 30, 2018 asking that Religion should not be politicized in Nigeria, did not provide a template for peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians; rather, it merely established the use of religion by the president to serve his own political purposes, hence a disservice to not only Christians and Muslims but also the generality of the Peoples of Nigeria who may not adhere to either faith.
Christians for Yoruba Nation, a platform for concerned Christians in general and Yoruba Christians in particular, to intervene in the attempts at redefining the concept of Nigeria and the place of Yorubaland and her people in it, categorically takes issues with president Buhari’s out-of-context quotations of the Bible in his bid to be politically correct.
We must correct the President’s assertion that Samuel Ajayi Crowther “came with the first Bibles translated into Yoruba and Hausa languages”. This was not so as Ajayi Crowther translated the Bible only after his arrival.
If, as president Buhari claims, he believes in “peace, tolerance, and reconciliation; in the institution of the family, the sanctity of marriage, and the honor of fidelity; in hope, compassion, and divine revelation”, he must know that these things are impossible without Justice.
Thus, when he asked Muslims and Christians to turn to one another in compassion, quoting Amos 3:3, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”, he failed to situate compassion within Justice; for compassion is meaningless without Justice and the Peoples of Nigeria, regardless of their faith, are already denied Justice by their forcible alienation and separation from their existential expectations, with president Buhari in the forefront of foreclosing any attempt at reviving these imperatives. These Nationalities have been made to veer away from their God-given Identities, which will place them squarely within the context of Israel’s iniquities, God’s fundamental complaint.
Amos 3:3 was a direct question to the Nation of Israel whose iniquities derived from their deviation from God’s way. In other words, can God and Israel walk together unless they are agreed? And how can they agree when Israel had already turned away from God? Thus, begging the question as to the standard for “walking together”: God or Man?
Every aspect of human life requires some form of “walking together”, and this is neither about Muslims and Christians nor about two Christians or any two persons even as it may be applicable to any circumstance of two. For Amos 3:3 to apply, the standard for walking together is God; the standard remains today, for God created us with our Identities and expects us to relate with Him as such.
God is interested in Nations, not simply in countries(which could be made up of many Nations) and which, in today’s expression, would be known as the “National Question”; as seen, among others, in His promise to Abram, Genesis 12:2 “I will make you a great nation”; similarly at Pentecost, Acts 2:5-12 “devout men from every nation under heaven ..heard them speak in his own Language” and Revelation 7:9, where a “great multitude ..of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues…”
The Nigerian Post-colonial State was created by Man, directly aimed at negating our Identities, and substituting man for God through various forms of homogenization aided by proclamations, even by some Christian leaders, as to Nigeria being “created by God”, a sentiment once shared by the president, thus making Nigeria’s case worse than that of Israel. Rejecting this man-made notion is at the core of the demands to Restructure Nigeria along Ethno-National geo-political lines which the president opposes.
Attempting to justify his notion of unity, he referenced Luke 9:50: “forbid him not, for he that is not against us is for us” concluding by saying that is the path for followers of the two great religions. Jesus Christ took this position because HE stood as the standard, those who used His name to cast out demons could only do so; they can neither usurp nor substitute themselves for Him or His name; hence it was permissible.
On the contrary, everything about the Nigerian Post-colonial State is about negating the standard that God has set for the Nations/Peoples of Nigeria. Luke 9:50 is therefore applicable in two ways; those for or against Restructuring, where those desirous of it, despite their different and differing ideological or philosophical and indeed religious beliefs are demanding a Referendum among all the Nationalities, having arrived at a common denominator.; and those opposed are using all the tricks they can muster to deny it; the way out being the Referendum among the Peoples as to where they belong thus making a reality of Luke 9:50; that is, recognition of the “other”, more so when it is not inimical to one’s well-being but their own self-expression.
Meanwhile, Yorubaland had been known to be religiously tolerant, with adherents of different faiths often found within the same family and which had produced numerous studies into how this became possible and continuous. Furthermore, this religious tolerance is applicable on the socio-political level where non-Yoruba people were and still are welcomed into the society such that many non-Yoruba became assimilated into Yoruba society, not by force but by mutual interest.
But the Yoruba have become a victim of the homogenization attempt, first by the British imperial calculus of ensuring northern political domination and followed by the military of which president Buhari played a prominent part, such that everything about Yoruba Renaissance which had begun in the Western Region became neutralized through the Unitarization of Nigeria such that even our language is on the verge of extinction, save the efforts by countries with historical connections to the Yoruba like Brazil ensuring the study of the Language in the primary and secondary schools as well as the efforts of the Lagos state Government to institutionalize the Language, circumscribed by the fact that social and educational policies of the Yoruba Region are not under their control but dictated by and from the center.
To make matters worse, president Buhari tried to justify the enablement of herdsmen terrorism by the Nigerian post-colonial state with another Biblical reference, this time, Mark 8:18 which he quoted as: “Having eyes, do you not see and having ears do you not hear”
This passage was taken out of context in order to justify a political stance anchored on what he says are his administration’s achievements in tackling terrorism; for Jesus Christ categorically asked His disciples why a material lack could becloud their judgment such that their previous experience with material provisions did not play a part in their understanding of the issues at hand.
What then are today’s issues against the backdrop of our previous experience that will warrant this passage? He says his cabinet is evenly split between Muslims and Christians as if that is the issue— after all, it was a Christian president who allowed Sharia law in some parts of the North in violation of the Constitution and continued to violate the Constitution at will throughout his tenure.
Besides, since the military advent into the political leadership and control of the country, all cabinets have been composed of individuals of both faiths, regardless of which was in the majority, with the Presidency and Vice presidency often rotated between the two faiths as a matter of course.
Despite the current Vice president being Yoruba and a Pastor, the Nigerian post-colonial state aided and abetted Fulani herdsmen terrorism, with all manner of excuses and justifications; victims are routinely prosecuted by the State; herdsmen unilaterally and violently challenge Laws against open grazing, sometimes issuing ultimatums to state governments without being called to order by their leadership, of which president Buhari was one, as a patron; our safety made dependent on acquiescing to forcible take-over of our lands, all of which the president now wants to attribute to climate change.
When a “degraded” Boko Haram is dangled as a categorical achievement, he forgot his earlier admonition to the civilian force which had successfully engaged and defeated Boko Haram and whose request for support fell on deaf ears, claiming, at the time, that Boko Haram cannot be fought with sticks, yet with all the machinery at his Administration’s disposal, we are supposed to be content with their being “degraded” when it had been shown that a different security architecture anchored on the will of the Nationalities is the way to Boko Haram’s defeat.
Contrary to all these was the Pre-1966 experience, a categorical example of how a Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Cultural and Multi-Lingual society can be organized in harmony. Colonial UK was forced to accede to the Federalist Structure, later truncated by the military, ostensibly to combat corruption, which the same military had been combatting ever since and which the Buhari Administration calls one of its major objectives and continues to peddle.
Furthermore, his Administration turns a blind eye to the emergence of Scottish Independence movement and the methodologies of addressing it. Yet, in the Nigeria created by the UK, it is either a denial of its necessity or the criminalization of its advocacy, which ultimately points to how we, as Peoples of Nigeria, have been made to separate ourselves from our God-given Identities and recreated in the image of another, despite this “other” re-inventing itself.
All of his Administration’s efforts are geared towards further centralization and homogenization of Nigeria, to wit: centralization of water resources, central control of local governments, central government funding of cattle ranches all over the country despite the Fulani claims of cultural economy; all of which make the retention of the Architecture of the centralized and Unitarist Nigerian Post-colonial state, the bottom line, contrary to all the Scripture he quoted.
Therefore, referencing the passage must determine whether we knew all these things or not, and whether our capacity to grasp God’s will for our Nations is influenced by an understanding of what God had established in our history.
President Buhari once claimed to be ignorant of what is meant by Restructuring; yet all advocates are agreed on its basic principles which now allow for different exhibition of their ideological imperatives, much like the First Republic which saw to the emergence of the Regions with their different ideological systems, where the attempt to impose one over the other led to the crisis of the Nigerian post-colonial state which is still with the country till date.
The CYN, therefore, wants to once again tell the world about our endorsement of the Yoruba Manifesto, and the Draft Bill for A Referendum Law in Yorubaland, in fulfillment of the quoted and unquoted Scripture, among others; just as another Christian Group, the Northern Christian Elders Forum wants to draw up a Charter of Agreement for all the presidential candidates to sign and implement.
The ball is now in the president’s court.
Pastor Goke Afolayan,
Convener, Christians for Yoruba Nation.