At this juncture permit me to share the words of my friend Mr. Dickson Igwe. On June 16th 2014 he wrote the following on my facebook wall:
”There is a war on in the Middle East and Africa between the forces of jihad and more moderate forces. It is either you follow their pure islamic ideology or you are an enemy to be eradicated. It is further complicated by war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The war has arrived in Nigeria. So either Christians wake up and understand what they are up against and fight to the death – or continue with the status quo and die like wild animals- there is no half way. Nigeria with a predominantly Christian south and a predominantly islamic north is a frontline in the war between fundamentalist Islam, and Christianity and the forces of moderation. Across Africa, I see an invisible warfront somewhere between North Africa and sub-saharan Africa where the jihadists and their terror networks penetrate south and kill Christians at will. Do not be deluded. This is war. Christians living in Northern Nigeria are sitting ducks. They are fodder for terrorists. And the Jihadists will come south eventually. The best thing the Christian south can do is adopt the posture of the ancient crusader. This is a fight to the finish. There is no middle ground with these murderers. They are vermin’’.
Can anyone doubt the wisdom, foresight and veracity of these chilling and frightful words
Equally chilling is the contribution from my sister Miss Toyin Fani-Kayode. She qouted Mr. Paul Adams, the BBC World Affairs correspondent who filed in his story from Iraq, and she posted those words on her facebook page. Mr. Adams’ story was about the shocking and breathtaking military offensive of the dreaded ISIS islamists in Iraq and their massive military gains in the last few days and weeks. On June 11th, on BBC TV’s ”News At One”, he reported that:
”Mosul is overrun and taken over by Islamist militants – they control oil resources , mineral resources and borders. On monday Mosul’s Governor urged residents to stand and hold firm: hours later he was gone. Militants now control government offices, police buildings and banks too. Half a million flee. One officer said: ‘we can’t beat them. We can’t. They are well trained in street fighting and we’re not. We need a whole army to drive them out of Mosul. They’re like ghosts: they appear, strike and disappear in seconds’’’.
This is a graphic and vivid report by Mr. Adams about the ugly events that are fast unfolding in Iraq. Having shared it with us in order to wet our appetites and to get our hearts beating at a fast pace, Miss Fani-Kayode concluded her contribution by adding her own short and instructive counsel. She wrote: ‘’Nigeria take note”.
Her point is taken. Given the efforts and gradual build-up of the fire-power and increasingly daring military incursions of Boko Haram in our country, her counsel is not only welcome but it is also timely and relevant.
Those that are shallow and naive enough to honestly believe that what is happening in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Kenya and elsewhere today can never happen in Nigeria would do well to go and do their research on the history of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the world.
They need to learn a thing or two about the doctrine of the salifists and the wahabbi philosophy, where it comes from and which countries drive and fund it. They should study the concept of global jihad and try to understand and appreciate the attraction that it has for millions of young islamists all over the world who feel that that is the only way to preserve their faith, way of life and philosophy and to defend the interests of their people.
They should also focus particularly on the history of Turkey which was once a purely Christian nation. She was ruled by the first Christian Roman Emperor called Constantine, she was indeed home to the first seven major churches after the resurrection of the Messiah and she remained Christian for over one thousand years.
This was up until the time that radical and political islam was introduced into her shores and before the islamists of the Ottoman Empire defeated the Christians, took over the reigns of political power and literally wiped out christianity. It didn’t stop there.
Hundreds of years later when General Kamal Attaturk took power in Turkey and established the first muslim secular state he not only murdered one million islamists who opposed him and his understanding and application of islam in order to pave the way for that state but he also massacred no less than one million Christian Armenians from Turkey’s neighbouring country and vassal state.
Question: what is the morale of the tale? Answer: never say that such things can never happen in Nigeria and do not accept the naive assertion that Christianity cannot be wiped out in our country. It happened in Turkey, it has more or less happened in Egypt and it came close to happening in Lebanon.
History often repeats itself in climes that refuse to learn from the historical experiences and lessons of others. Let us hope that we do not end up suffering from that particular affliction in Nigeria.
For the eternal optimists who still claim that we do not have a religious problem in our country and who, like the proverbial ostrich, have buried their heads in the sand permit me to end this essay with an insightful and relevant contribution from Mr. Opeyemi Agbaje. On June 11, 2014 he wrote the following:
‘’What do Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, Pakistan, India, Russia, China, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Myanmar, Lebanon, the Phillipines, Malaysia, Turkestan, Chechnya, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and many more countries all have in common? The answer is that they are all fighting against Jihadists that are determined to overthrow their secular constitutions and replace it with a fundamentalist Islamic Caliphate in either the whole or part of their countries!’’
What Mr. Agbaje has said is an incontrovertible fact. We are in the middle of an epic and major international conflict whose outcome will have monumental consequences for us all. Yet this is no ordinary conflict. It is far more frightful than that. We are fighting a war against a relentless and vicious group of people that are waging a global jihad. It is a war of the mind, heart, body, spirit and soul.
It is a war that seeks to wipe out Christianity and every other major faith, to destroy the secular state, to shatter and discredit moderate Islam, to change our way of life forever, to drive us back into the 6th century, to turn our women into chattel and to turn our children into sex slaves.
It is a war that has resulted in much carnage and chaos yet it is one that we cannot afford to shy away from or to lose. The forces that we are up against and that threaten our very existence are worse than fascism and communism all rolled into one. They are a cancer that is eating us up from within.
To act as if they present no danger to our nation and the welfare of our people and to suggest that ‘’all is well’’ and that they do not exist is the biggest mistake that any sensible and self-respecting Nigerian could possibly make.
Not only do they exist but they have also managed to infiltrate our government, our political parties and every sphere of our military, intelligence, security and civil institutions.
They are literally everywhere and it is the duty of every true patriot, whether he or she be Christian or Muslim, to expose them, resist them, shame them and bring them to justice.
Permit me to end this contribution with a few words about the tenacious nature of the christian faith. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the Living God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Resurrected Lord, the Risen King, He that is high and lifted up and He that came down to earth as God incarnate in the flesh said ”I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.
Those that seek to wipe out christianity need to ponder on these words and meditate on them. Those that seek to diminish the the status of our faith by cheating, killing, persecuting, maiming and shaming christians need a lesson in church history. The fact of the matter is that the christian church was built on the blood of the martyrs and the persecution of the saints. The more christians you kill, persecute, torment and shame the more the church grows and the more our faith spreads. It is a deep mystery and a spiritual principle that is inexplicable to the unknowing and unfathomable to the uninitiated.
The Word of the Lord says ”have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty”. It goes on to say ”no weapon fashioned against thee shall prosper and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn”. It concludes the verse by saying ”this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord”. The lesson is simple and clear: no matter how many of us you kill, persecute or seek to intimidate, the followers of the Nazarene cannot be defeated and nothing can overwhelm or deter us. In every circumstance and situation, no matter how bad, we shall always prevail.
This is because we serve a mighty God. It is because just over 2000 years ago our Lord and Master paid the price, took the pain, gave up His life, shed His precious blood, went down to hell, rose again and conquered death. He is the guarantor of our victory. He is the source of our confidence and strength. He is ”our shield, our glory and the lifter of our heads”.
I conclude this essay with a call to every true believer and to those that are in covenant with the Lord to pray for the christians of northern Nigeria. The hardship, suffering and persecution that the majority of them have endured over the years and indeed are still enduring at the hands of the extremists, the haramites and the jihadists needs to be seen to be believed. Yet they have endured it with immense dignity, restraint, self-respect and in stoic silence.
I also implore the christian faithful to say a word of prayer for this writer and humble servant of truth as well. God knows that I need it: as a matter of fact we all do.
May the name of the Lord be glorified in our quest for justice, freedom and security for our people and may His Church go from strength to strength. God bless Nigeria.
Mr. Fani-Kayode, and former federal cabinet minister, concludes his two-part serial. He writes from Abuja.