I did not know the extent of calumny and propaganda against the leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, over his response to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria until I spoke with a Nigerian friend who lives in Europe. That friend of mine was adamant that the CAN leader was reckless and irresponsible in his utterances concerning those attacks targeting Christians and churches. Why was he inciting Christians to rise up and retaliate against those attacks, he asked me. Why would very highly placed persons like Ayo Oritsejafor be making these reckless statements and further escalate the tension orchestrated from the attacks against Christians, Southerners and their places of worship?
At first I didn’t know how to respond to him. My friend had left these shores about thirteen years ago. But if I tell you I had no idea however it was that he knew what was happening in Nigeria, I would be taking you for granted: the internet is there, there’s Facebook, that platform where people express their sentiments straight from their hearts and without due consultations with their heads. All it takes is for one friend to make one stupid comment, and before you know it his friends lap up, all in a bid to latch in and join the train of thinkinginglessness. I remember when El-Rufai used the phrase ‘clueless’ to describe Mr. President. Instantly, the phrase went viral and before anyone knew what was happening, the epithet stuck to the president the way paper would stick to glue. The surprise of all was that even people who were supposed to know better that flow with El-Rufai’s weak understanding of that word carried on with that weak description of Mr. President.
It is the same thing with what had happened with Ayo Oritsejafor, CAN president. Before the Boko Haram terrorist attacks started, General Muhammadu Buhari had boasted that he was going to make Nigeria ungovernable if he or one of his people failed to emerge as Nigerian president. He said that the blood of ‘baboons’ will flow. And after somebody from the South became president, a fusillade of attacks on Christians and churches ensued. Christians were being slaughtered in their thousands and some Moslems died as well. I remember remarking once to a friend that Nigeria suddenly became a place where human life became a little less than that of goats and chicken – chicken and goats were killed only on festive occasions but everyday the terrorists just snuffed life out like that of goat and chicken.
But observe that while the bombings of churches and slaughter of Christians was going on, only his Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto Said Abubakar, among the long list of northern elders and political heavyweights deigned to raise their voices in condemnation of the senseless bombings of churches. The rest of them, particularly Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, El-Rufai and the seven governors who are calling themselves the new PDP were as mute as a pole. Their silence in the face of such national calamity eloquently expressed their support for the terrorist activities that placed very cheap price tag on human life.
But observe once more that as soon as Mr. President imposed a state of emergency in the states where these terrorists were strong, Muhammadu Buhari and El-Rufai, together with the sponsors of these terrorists began to shout at the top of their voices that the state of emergency was unnecessary, and that it was not going to work. In fact, I could never have been any shocked than I was when the child of one of the politicians also expressed similar sentiment. This person had no reservations about the terrorists killing Christians and Moslems and bombing churches, but was near tears when the state of emergency was imposed in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, and the funds with which these politicians were using to fund the terrorists were cut off.
While all this was going on, most religious leaders maintained an undignified distance silence. Pastors, Bishops, reverends and General overseers hopped onto their private jets and junketed around the world instead of standing their grounds and speaking out against the pogrom that was going on. But not Ayo Oritsejafor, leader of Christians in Nigeria. He went to town denouncing the activities of these terrorists and in no time, El-Rufai took him on. He went to facebook and twitter where he knew some mindless people take refuge and described the CAN leader as a sectional person whose so-called unguarded utterances were encouraging Christians to retaliate. El-Rufai’s statements were to be made via this irresponsible medium and these people who cannot think for themselves tagged along and began to mimic the diminutive politician. These El-Rufai lovers have not even bothered to ask him what his position is concerning the killing of Christians and Moslems in the north and of his position on the declaration of that state of emergency in the affected states. If they did, they would find out that el-Rufai, like his principal, Muhammadu Buhari, is one of the greatest supporters and sponsors of anything and of anyone who would unseat the incumbent. Nothing is wrong in criticizing the government of your country. In fact, I hear that there are places in the United Kingdom where you could stand and denounce the Queen. And while you’re at it, that same government you stand to denounce gives you protection. I do not think however that that same government would stand idly by if you chuck a grenade at it or support those who chuck grenades at it and kill her people.
But if the truth must be told, we must all tell ourselves that we must move from these primordial methods of conflict resolution. Nothing is as base as the thinking that once you kill you’ll have the upper hand. What the CAN man said and which I support, not because I am CAN myself but because it is true, is that killing begets killing, and at least from the way I understand it, nobody has any monopoly of violence. He was saying that nobody should take Christians for granted simply because they are seen to be more peace-loving than those whose religion preaches peace but who resort more to violence in the resolution of their disputes in virtually every corner of the globe. And indeed if that was what Ayo Oritsejafor was saying, I do not understand why people like the diminutive politician and his disciples were complaining except perhaps they still hold the primordial belief that the incumbent is minority and therefore they cannot accept to be governed by him because of where he comes from. If that is the case then it must be a shame. I say so because of the American examples that we often cite, and because of the irony of a country which once held the black man as a slave, and which has picked itself from the cotton fields where the black man was a slave to this dotcom era, and adjusted itself to modern trends and presently enjoys excellent leadership from a black man – essentially a former slave.