Bishop Funmi Adesanya-Davies Ph.D
There is no need trading words, so lend me some of your words Mr. cleric, as I am disappointed and utterly perplexed that Professor Ishaq Akintola, a supposed academic could 'intelligently' make such negative remarks to negate the red alert by the retired military generals and Christian elders under the aegis of the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), who opined in Abuja last week that Nigeria was being Islamised. The retired generals include Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (retd.) and Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd.) while Elder Solomon Asemota, Elder Moses Ihonde, and Elder Shyngle Wigwe were among the elders, who had warned the Islamists of impending danger if they do not desist. Of course yes, what an adult sees sitting down, a child cannot see while climbing up, an adage says.
Professor Ishaq Akintola, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) president asserts that the said danger alert is "false, baseless, deceptive, malicious and provocative”. The cleric totally rejects this allegation. In his words, the Elders and CAN are "Using Christian and Islamic Religious Studies (CRS and IRS) which are in the current school curriculum as a launching pad for its tirades on Muslims in the country." To the contrary, one would have expected the Islamic cleric academic to gladly support the separation of their IRS from the CRS curriculum and be glad IRS would have more space. Of what gain is this merger to both religions? The NCGF and CAN had explained they do not want CRS as combo subjects subsumed in any Religion and Security subjects. Christian children need not be exposed to wars, rumours of wars and winning of wars at tender ages of 5-6yrs in primary schools as that is not in their belief and value system. In the name of what? Using flash cards to count how many wars there were, lost and won!
However, I would in your words in direct opposite rather say that: "We Christians are not surprised at this latest development because you Muslim leaders are simply behaving to type." Yet, "you have always been creating unrest where there is none" and your religion is synonymous with wars and peacelessness. No wonder you ironically and projectively tagged your religion as "peace". What other religion on the planet earth is the most peaceless? In fact, you Muslim clerics should be so busy solving Islamic problems in the country as Boko haram in the nation. Please, please and please, we Nigerians want peace as it is engrafted in our Constitution, we do not want wars, no, not even on the platter of any religion, we plead! Let tempers stop keep flaring.
Let it be known to you that, as you claimed in such foul language, cleric, and I quote that, "The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and its attack megaphones like NCEF are adept at subterfuge and their false alarms usually come after they might have committed an evil act. It is diversionary tactics." No! Never and never, we are not such, and would never be. The whole world knows that Christians are peace loving people as our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace. He is neither a warlord, a blood thirsty demon nor in support of any form of bloodshed in the name of religion. He rather shed His blood for mankind, sacrificing His own life for us on the cross, as He came to place value on mankind. We believe in life and He gave us self-esteem here while promising eternal life in heaven.
Again, one would ask, which Christian group the cleric claims, plot " to Christianise Muslim children by using the old deceptive curriculum" as he wrongly stated. This is laughable, can't you people do your own thing? Water and Oil can never mix. Meaning again, you are saying this new curriculum is for Islamization for real! Remember we can recall the history of the introduction of Christianity and Islam in Nigeria. Christianity was spread through evangelism, persuasion and conviction and has always been. On the contrary, militancy and brutal force, otherwise known as Jihad, were the methods of spread for Islam. It was by military conquest that Uthman Dan Fodio subdued Gobir and converted it into a Muslim Sokoto Caliphate in 1804. You are still continuing with such in this civilized 21st. century? All sorts, to comment further, still on plan to either Christianize or Islamize, why kidnap 90% Christian girls from a Christian school and community in Chibok? And started releasing them in batches as you claimed? Is it because we are so peaceful and quiet? Also, always shedding Christians' blood with impunity as we are gentle and bearing up silently. Why are they trying to remove History from the Nigerian curriculum we asked? To complete the islamization, arabiazation and fulanization processes of Nigeria? Geography was also excluded from the Curriculum, for what? To what end? For posterity sake!
If you do not know as an Islamic cleric and academic, do ask questions. Then we can as well explain to you over and over again as was resolved in the National upper chamber by the Senate, and simultaneously, by the Federal government now, who directed the NERDC this week that CRS and IRS should revert back to separate subjects immediately. Sure, much is wrong if government packaged religion as combo subjects and make Christian Religious Studies compulsory for Christian students and Islamic Religious Studies compulsory for Muslim students ('Studies' and not 'Knowledge') as you said (that was as used in the past). Hello, in a country where there are no enough teachers in schools, and teachers have not been and are not being employed in every part of the country? Why are you always thinking and moving in an opposite direction even when reasoning so beckons obviously to common sense? This is annoying!
Moreover, come to think of it, Arabic studies and Arabic language are still there, enlisted as both compulsory and optional subjects in the curriculum. Why being retrogressive? Thus, the Christians also want two language options; the Hebrew language (as our language of religion) and Chinese language (the language of fastest growing economy in Africa and the world) as Compulsory and Optional subjects for the Nigerian Christian Students- Let us strike a balance! There must be a balance here! Or Nigeria should thenceforth remove and expunge any form of Arabic from the Nigerian curriculum in its entirety. Similarly, on a very serious note, there should be no wearing of hijab for security reasons we beg you people, in Christian and Mission schools again. The question is: Why always put Christians on edge, and at the defensive mode all the time? It's not good for anybody's health, mentality and psychology in this nation. In our own home land! Christians in Nigeria have no second home, we declare! What have we Christians done to deserve all this? Listen and listen good our dear cleric, we Christians are not second class citizens in Nigeria - for crying out loud! Just that we do not fight for our Trinity-God! He is THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, GREAT AND MIGHTY IN BATTLE AND THE CREATOR OF ALL!
Further, how on earth does this not simply translate to Islamizing Nigeria? Once in our schools, it was just Bible Knowledge (BK) alone, then BK was accommodated as CRK and IRK and now to what? To CRS/IRS, 1/5 Study Content? Did you care to pick up and read in the new textbooks and curriculum all the blasphemous statements against our Lord Jesus Christ that He was never crucified nor resurrected, etc., - such basic fundamental tenants of Christian faith! Is this not again a psychological Boko Haram fight! Did you care to pick up and see copies of the new arabicized textbooks where all the culture of Nigeria was subsumed? I have all the copies and my heart bleeds. Why will Nigerian children enter their classrooms in the primary, secondary and university in the future and cannot understand what is happening because the language of adoption, emersion and initiation is Arabic? Think, think, please think as an academic and a Nigerian first- before as a Muslim because of the future of Nigerian teeming youths and our generations unborn. Think, think, please think. We were all first born as Nigerians and as such, Nigerians first! Nigeria first! Then we restructure it!
You claimed, "NCEF is shouting blue murder because CAN’s plot of catching Muslim children as ‘fishes’ through a deceptive curriculum has been floored" and added "It is a cardinal dogma of CAN that any child who lacks Christian moral training must end up as a social outcast and a burden on society. They therefore seek to compel Muslim children to take CRS and deny them the chance to study IRS." Please again I say think and re-think. Are you not fed up with begging children, almajiris, Boko Haram, all sorts, etc., that kept the northern Nigeria undeveloped and subjugated? Think, think and re-think, are you so comfortable with the countless ID camps in northern Nigeria all in the name of Islam? Think again, re-think, when has it been reported that Christians murdered and slaughtered other people in cold blood in the name of the Almighty God and the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Why lie against God! "Who did this to Muslims!" How did Nigerians get here for heaven's sake and why are you still pushing Nigeria this further? Into what, in the 21st. century?
Now you asked, but you, ask yourself what is "this idea of using former military generals to intimidate the country in an issue involving religion?” When the elders all in their 80s, who should be quietly resting and sleeping in their homes in their wisdom gathered to alert those involved to tread softly; "as key findings about Islam around the world by the US just shows 72% of Muslims in Nigeria voted Sharia. You call that intimidation, oh, no! let me reserve my comments.
As you alarmed, "When last did Muslims use their own generals to make noise? Must we flex military muscle over a civil matter? Why the emphasis on a statement issued by retired military generals and Christian leaders? Are the generals there to represent the Nigerian Army?
To make what point? Who did this to CAN? The reference to war by the group is an admission that they are already making secret plans to wage war on Muslims." So, you go then and gather the Muslim militia to wage war against Christians and innocent Nigerians!
Then as you reprimanded: "MURIC charges the Nigerian military to caution its retired Christian generals. They must desist from brandishing their expired medals in our faces. Something has gone terribly wrong with their pre-retirement briefings." Is that how to address elder statesmen and excellencies, who gathered to see how they can avert imminent and looming danger? Did they gather to discuss how to get guns and cutlasses to behead and slaughter your people? Then, go and gather the government and the Muslim militia to wage war against Christians and law abiding Nigerians and keep the war drum drumming, as we have already been told by the Muslim youths supported by their elders in northern Nigeria - "come October 1st. !" Is this how to 'work for peace, to pray for progress and to search for the stability of the Nigerian nation", as written in your conclusion? By insulting Christian military and elders? Inciting the Muslim populace? Wonders shall never end! This is never done! Or do we call all these lies and deceptions to strengthen Islam?
As I conclude, may I share with you, our cleric, an excerpt of a considerate view of this subject, as written by one of the lovers of Nigeria, and a Christian professional, Sir Don Ubani; KSC, JP. Okwubunka of Asa, on 16th. June 2017 as he retrospectively ascertained:
“IF ANY THING HAPPENS TO NIGERIA, HOLD ISLAM RESPONSIBLE!
In life, the worst miscalculation a group could make is to take the patience or tolerance of others for granted. As an individual, I hold the opinion that Nigeria, as amalgamated by the British in 1914, could stand tall in, not only Africa, but the comity of nations. With our geographical size, population and human capacity, there is hardly any economy that Nigeria can not sustain. Besides, the country is abundantly blessed with natural resources. Though very heterogeneous by composition, our diversity, if properly harnessed, should have been our major source of strength and, may be, pride.
Taking advanced cognizance of human nature, our post amalgamation founding fathers articulated and meticulously bequeathed us a Constitution that had in mind our diversity. Our Constitutions, especially that of 1963, have always had and presented Nigeria as a secular state. Being a secular state means that Nigeria has no state religion. Citizens are fundamentally allowed to practice the religion of their choice. As we could sincerely attest to, nothing is as sensitive and volatile as religion. No wonder, our founding fathers allowed it to be a matter of personal choice.
In Nigeria, there are different types of religion; Christian, Islam, Jewish and Traditional. In a secular state, the government has no business trying to impose one religion on any citizen. As long as the religious practice does not inhibit the fundamental rights of other citizens, government's attention is never drawn to its mode of worship. Christianity and Islam are two major religions in Nigeria. While Christianity found its way into Nigeria through the western zone and spread by European Missionaries. Islam came through the North. Islam has its origin in Arabia.
The methods adopted for the spread of the two religions by those that brought them to Nigeria differ basically. Christianity was spread through evangelism, persuasion and conviction. On the other hand, militancy and brutal force, otherwise known as Jihad, were the method of spread of Islam. It was by military conquest that Uthman Dan Fodio subdued Gobir and converted it into a Muslim Sokoto Caliphate in 1804. By 1808, Islam, by conquest, had taken over Katsina, Kano, Nupe and Ilorin.
In spite of Nigeria's purported secularity, some leaders of Nigeria of northern extraction, have tried or been trying to upset the religious peace of the country. In 1986, General Ibrahim Babangida, a self-styled Military President of Nigeria, unilaterally and dictatorially dragged Nigeria into membership of Organization of Islamic Cooperation. I vividly recollect that mere expression of ignorance of Nigeria's membership of OIC cost Commodore Okoh Ebitu Ukiwe his position as Chief of General Staff (Vice President) under President Babangida. Other Military Heads of State who came after Ibrahim Babangida deliberately sustained that membership, not minding its sensitivity to-date.
Boko Haram insurgency in the North of Nigeria, particularly in the North-East; a religious volcano that has eaten too deeply into Nigeria's resources and still counting, and Islamist has desperately been fighting for an Islamist caliphate in that region. From the same Islamist propensity, the Fulani herdsmen, all Muslims, have been waging and sustaining wars against Christian farmers in North-Central and Southern regions of Nigeria. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Christians have not only been killed by these Muslim herdsmen but heartlessly butchered. Yet, no single arrest has been made.
Nigeria is fashioned as a secular state, practitioners of different religions in the country establish their schools through which they inculcate their beliefs in their children. Christians, the world over, worship God Almighty, believing Jesus Christ as their Lord, Saviour and Intercessor. In Christian Missionary Schools, Christian Religious Studies is taught in order to sustain the faith. In junior classes in Secondary schools, CRS is compulsorily taught. Jesus Christ is the pillar upon which Christianity rests. Any person or body that tries to force or deceive the Christian not to believe that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God is only attempting to sow the seed of cataclysm in Nigeria.
The trick here is that between Islam/Arabic Studies and French, many secondary school students, in the absence of teachers of French, would opt for Islam/Arabic Studies. This is a crude way of phasing out Christianity in Nigeria and, in its place, imposing Islam on Christians. We know that whatever is fed the mind at its tender stage is what it grows to accept. If you do not know, Islam has continued to constitute a threat to the unity, safety and progress of Nigeria. For those who may query if Nigeria's unity is not threatened by the activities of Indigenous People of Biafra, Niger Delta Militants and Odua People's Congress, my answer is very simple. These groups are either agitating, in a non-violent manner, for a referendum or true federalism. They want to be on their own and live in PEACE. The desperation and manner in which Muslims leaders in Nigeria seem hell-bent in wiping out Christianity could leave an irregular signature on the Nigerian project, if left unchecked. We must say a capital No to this aberration. Why all these threats!Enough is Enough!
No, no, no!
Once more, we reiterate that the Retired military generals and Christian elders under the aegis of the National Christian Elders Forum, have observed that Nigeria is drifting towards a needless conflict that can culminate in another war, if not well managed. The explained that Jihad or holy Islamic war had been launched in the country to eradicate democracy and supplant the Constitution and noted that the nation was in the throes of jihad as they called on Nigerian leaders to tread softly to avoid the impending implosion.
According to them in practical terms: “The real problem with the country is that Jihad has been launched in Nigeria and Islamists that have been interfering in the governance of the country using “Taqiyya” (approved deception) as “Stealth/Civilisation Jihad” and Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen as violent Jihad, are relentless in their pursuit of eradicating democracy in Nigeria.n“The objective of the Islamists (Political Islam) is to supplant the constitution of Nigeria with Sharia ideology as the source of legislation in the nation. The conflict between democracy as national ideology and Sharia as a usurping ideology is responsible for the crisis unfolding in Nigeria. The nation is in the throes of Jihad.”
The Christian body also observed that the conflicting signals emanating from the Presidency and the Senate, as well as the unrelenting attacks of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, had not helped the situation, noting that the Presidency appeared to be at war with itself and at conflict with the National Assembly. More so, “…If grazing reserve is a must for the Fulani herdsmen, instead of which is the international best practice, NCEF recommends that Sambisa Forest should be given to the Fulani herdsmen,” it added. Thus, condemning what it called the brazen attempt at Islamising Nigeria with the introduction of Religion and National Values subject “which denigrates Christianity and promotes Islam.” and all these facts cannot be over emphasised.
As Christian academics and being defenders of the Christian faith, we at Christian Professionals Federation (CPF) are duty-bound to join this protest against the illegal and potentially explosive imposition of an Islamist Curriculum on Christians, and say no to this horrible and horrific imposition. We 100% commend our Retired Generals in persons of Gen. Zamani Lekwot, Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro, Gen. TY Danjuma and all other notable Elders of thought and high repute and our able and formidable Nigerian Christian Elders Forum for their timely intervention of the plain and transparent truth of a precarious Nigeria. Sirs, we join you in this independent and objective analysis of the state of our Nation called Nigeria. We equally call on other formidable and objective groups to rise up in view of key issues raised by our Retd. Generals and Christian Elders Forum of Nigeria. Once again, we seriously commend our Generals and the NCEF for this leadership role. More grease to your elbow and more grace your excellency, Sirs.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Bishop Funmi Adesanya-Davies
Christian Professionals Federation (CPF),
Nigerian Supreme Council for Ecclesiastical Affairs (NSCEA).