Wonderful God, we bless your name. King of kings we declare your glory, we declare that there is none that can compare with you, you are God yesterday, you are God today and you will be God forever more. You are God over all gods, you are God over governors, over presidents, you are God over sovereign and you reign supreme. So father, we declare that by your mighty and strong arm, you will take us from Glory unto Glory in the name of the Lord Jesus. Thank you for being our God, thank you for choosing us, thank you for helping us in Jesus mighty name, we have prayed. Amen
Your Excellency, The Governor of Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his dear wife, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, the Rt. Hon. Philip Shuaibu, the Deputy Governor and His dear wife Marian Shuaibu, Our leader, Reverend Dr. Felix Omobude, President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and his dear wife, Mrs. Abiola Omobude. I am sure you will permit me to be partial to my father, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. The Reverend Dr. Ima Ukpai and Mrs. Philomena Ukpai of the Evangelistic Believers Ministries, Bishop Wale Oke, Deputy President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Apostle Emmanuel Kure, National Secretary, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Reverend Dr. Felix Meduoyi, General Overseer of the Four Square Gospel Church, Reverend Dr. Mercy Ezekiel of the Christian Pentecostal Mission, all members of the National Advisory Council, Members of the National Executive Council of the PFN, all General Overseers and Senior Pastors here present, Distinguished Guests, Brethren, Ladies and Gentlemen. I have a message this evening and it is titled “OUR GREATEST ENEMY IS HATE”. Our greatest enemy is hate. We are gathered today at a season of discontent in our nation, a period of severe e economic difficulties for many of our people and of considerable religious and ethnic tensions in the polity but it is perhaps religious conflicts that have endured longest.
In the past few years, we have seen the most brutal killings of men, women and children and we have experienced levels of hatred and vengefulness that has simply boggled the mind. The history of blood and gore from religious conflicts has spanned every Nigerian Government since the 70s. Let me give a short chronology. Between 1979 and 1983, the Shagari’s administration, there were the Maitatsine crises in Kano, Maduguri, Kaduna, Yola and Gombe in 1980 and the Kalakuta crises in Bulumkutu, Maduguri where over 5,000 died and 60,000 were displaced. In the first coming of the Military Administration of General Muhammadu Buhari 1983 – 1985, we also had the Maitatsine riot in Jimeta, Yola and in February 1985, in that riot, about 586 died, a re-occurrence was seen in the Pagani ward of Gombe in April of the same year claiming another 165 souls. Maitatsine crisis ended with General Buhari’s Government who put a stop to it in 1985.
The spiral of religious clashes however continued in the Babangida’s administration. August 1985 – 1993. You might recall, for instance, the Easter procession clashes in Ilorin in March 1986 and the clashes between Christian and Muslim students of the University of Ibadan in May 1986. There was also the violence in Jos in 1987 and the Kafanchan crises in Southern Kaduna, the same year where thousands people died in Kafanchan, Kano, Zamfara and Bauchi. Religious riots still occurred in the following year in Bauchi and Gombe as well as Zaria and Kaduna where 107 students of the Ahmadu Bello University were seriously injured during the election of a Christian to the leadership of the Students' Union.
A Shiite uprising followed in Katsina in 1991 with dozens of lives lost. Another clash of Christians and Muslims in Baluchi April 21, 1991 claimed 200 lives and 700 places of worship were burnt. Other notable cases include the Bonnke Riot of October 1991 in which hundreds died in Kano and the renewed Kafanchan crises of 1992 where, at least 60 were killed in Zango Kataf. Several more lives were lost in funtua, Katsina state during the Kalakato crises of February 1992. Under the Military administration of General Abacha November 1993 to June 9, 1998, two occurrences of religious riots again in Jos April 1994 and April 1997 where, at least, 200 houses were burnt down and several persons killed. It is equally important to know that during the Obasanjo administration, the Kafanchan crises erupted again in 1999 and dozens were killed. There was also the Borno religious riot which left several persons injured in the same year. Then, we had the Sharia Law crises in Kaduna in February and May respectively where many, again, lost their lives. The Jos crises also erupted again in 2001 and 2004 while similar riots were seen in Kano and Gombe in 2001. We also had those riots provoked by attempts to hold the Miss World Beauty Pageant in Kaduna 2002. The Yar A’dua administration also witnessed the resurgence of the Jos crises in November 2008, January 2010 and March 2010. By this time, Boko Haram had also made its presence in Bauchi and Maduguri between 2009 and 2010 where hundreds were killed.
In the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the Jos crises persisted. The violent clashes in December 2010 and January 2011 when Boko Haram hit Abuja with attacks on the UN buildings on August 26, 2011. But it is perhaps the Fulani vs Farmers conflicts that have occurred most frequently through the years. From 1996 to 2006, about 121 people have lost their lives in Bauchi and Gombe States alone as a result of Fulani and Farmers clashes. 2002 and 2004 clashes in Yelwa Sani Gorowa area of Plateau State between Farmers and Fulani Herdsmen. 13rd July, 2014, 10 persons were killed in clashes between Farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the Pilagani Street of Langtang, North Local Government of Plateau State. 14th July, 2014 over 50 people were reported to have been killed in pilagani district of Marakun Local Government Area of Zamfara State in a clash again with Fulani herdsmen.
May 2015, over hundred people died in villages and refugees camps located in Ikura, Benue State from attacks by suspected herdsmen. The list is long and up until May 23, 2013 and several others, there are reported cases of clashes which, of course, became religious in tone and several died. On Christmas day 2011, a coordinated bombing of churches resulted in 41 fatalities; January 23rd another three churches were attacked on the same date in Kaduna State. 2015 was probably Boko Haram’s year of most treason in the country. The group using female suicide bombers many who were children, attacked 28 different religious events mostly mosques and Islamic gatherings but the killing and persecution of Christians concern us here as we are gathered at the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and there has been no shortage of brutal, mindless killings of the brethren across the land. In 2005, Reverend Ladi Thompson who founded the Macedonia initiative an NGO to bring relief to persecuted Christians decided to pursue the case of the killing of a Christian teacher in Gombe state when students cut her to pieces because she had somehow offended the sensibilities of those students. The ferocity and mindlessness of the killings are sometimes simply too horrifying to recall. Permit me to comment briefly on the Southern Kaduna killings. Since investigations are still going on, it will be irresponsible of me to make any categorical statement except to say that the approach that the Federal Government has taken to all civil conflict is, first to allow the Governor, the Chief Security Officer of the State working with the Police to be the first respondent. This is what happened in the case of the shiat clashes with soldiers with result in fatality in Kaduna also. The Federal Government intervenes only when judicial investigations are completed.
With respect to the un-informed who suggested that the Federal Government of Nigeria was silent because it supported killings, this is not true. The troops that were sent in after the Security Council briefing were received after the first respondent which is the government of the state and the Police had found themselves incapable of controlling the violence. However, from the foregoing, it is obvious that every Nigerian leader whether Christian or Muslim has tried to solve the problem of this hate killings. No one has really succeeded. Indeed, the killings had increased inferocity and intensity. In many respects, the failure of our criminal justice system to arrest and punish culprits has not helped matters. But the era of suicide bombers and those ready to die along with their victims has added a more satanic dimension to the problem. Leaders and brethren, I want to ask a question – why is it that no administration since 1970, has succeeded in completely stopping these killings? Religious Riots, Religious uprisings, how come none has been able to stop these hate killings? Let me say that it is because the answer to hate, the response to gross wickedness, lies with the Church that can only be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a contrarian Gospel and by that, I mean it is completely contrary to everything that our flesh accepts and prefers. It is contrarian because it disagrees with the carnal nature of the human being. Indeed the scripture says that “all scripture is given by the inspiration of God and it is profitable for doctrines, for reprove, correction, for instruction and to righteousness. That scripture emphasizes that the word of God is given by the Holy Spirit and so it must be different from our human nature, it must be different from our flesh and scripture says that even our flesh, that carnal nature, is enmity against God. Everything about the Gospel of Jesus Christ contradicts our flesh. For example, as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned, the way to live and be fruitful is to die - John 12: 24-25 says most assuredly, I say into you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and die, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it; and he who hates his life in this world, will keep it for eternal life. Again contrary to what flesh and reasoning can bear, Jesus said that the way of exhortation is by humility, that the way of greatness is by servanthood. So as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned, unlike our flesh, the way up is down. So, is the matter of the pursuit of life’s compost again in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As far as human expectation is concerned, we must aspire for wealth and affluence, we must aspire for promotion, we must seek cars, houses and money but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is contrarian. It says “seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added. “But for me the most challenging of this contrarian Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in Matthew 5:38-43 where Jesus said “you have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: here He was referring to the Old testament He says but I tell you not to resist on the person but whosoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other also to him. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever compels you to go a mile, go with him two. Give to him who ask you, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the sons of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”.
And to those who have urged revenge, the answer that the Gospel gives “is that Vengeance is mine says the Lord.” But the question of course is “How can a man pray for those who, in his presence, killed his children and ripped out the baby with which his wife was pregnant from her womb? How do you love someone who comes into your community annually to kill as many as he can find? How do I turn the other cheek when the bones of the right side of my face had been cracked by the first slap? The question is that there are those who had said that it is wiser that we should kill ourselves but let me say to you that the power of redemption is perhaps the most contrarian of all scriptures. It is that God Almighty Himself came to earth to be shamed, punished and killed to save you and I, the most wretched and the most wicked of us and, as if to rub it in, God chose as His leading Disciple, Paul a persecutor of Christians who seized Christians from their homes and brought them to face some of the most horrible forms of death – death by stoning.
This “Boko Haram” leader wrote two thirds of the Bible. Our faith and His Gospel is different from every known religion. The Christian Faith, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is different from that of any known religion. This is why when somebody tears the Bible and spits on it, and stomp his feet on it, we do not kill him or quarrel because the Bible is not a mere document, it is the living indestructible word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword. There seemed even to the division of soul and spirit and of joint and marrow and is a designer of the force and intent and this is why we are not afraid that anyone can kill the Gospel because twelve men armed only with this Gospel, no guns, no knives and no arrows, turned the word upside down. Two thousand year after that, through every form of persecution and wickedness, the church of Jesus Christ is still marching on.
Today, the greatest enemy of our faith and our nation is hate. Hate is the device of the devil, it is that device that will ensure that there will be no Christian agenda. Jesus in laying down our agenda said in Matthew 28: 18-20 that “we must preach this Gospel of love and Grace to all and that must disciple the nation.” But how do we disciple the nations if we hate those who need salvation. How can we ever bring the love of Jesus Christ to those that some have urged that will revenge against. If our Gospel is to unbound the bound, does that exclude the children of the bond woman? Our commission includes Christian and Muslims and those who say there is no God. Of the members are radical Islamic terrorists who throw bombs in the market place and in motor parks. They kill children in their beds. In Bunu Yadi, they killed 59 children in the Boarding school. They abducted 200 Chibok girls. When their bombs go off in the markets and motor parks, it doesn’t ask whether you are Muslim or Christian or whether you believe before it kills.
Our mandate to all, without exception, is to preach the love of Jesus Christ. Many times and when we preach that love of Jesus Christ, people will spit at us, people will hurt us and many will die even doing this, but this is the burden of our faith, this is the burden of the Gospel and we wear that burden firmly, we wear it with courage, we wear it with conditions knowing that Jesus Christ so loved the world and God Almighty so loved this world that He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever believed in that love, will not perish but have eternal life.
Thank you very much.
God Bless You.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo
Acting President of Federal Republic of Nigeria