March 7, 2017

Where is Nigeria’s Paul Revere?

THERE is a lot we can learn from history, not just of ours but also of others. This more so, in our attempt  to recall the successes and patriotism of the originals.

By1774,  tension between the British-installed  Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Gage and the anti-British resistance “colonist” patriot, Samuel Adams had reached a palpable but intractable breaking point.

On April 18, 1775 fed up, the British  besieged and  mounted a sneak attack on Boston Massachusetts at midnight. Alas, the entire city was dead asleep! However, only one man – a silversmith  was wide-awake; his name was Paul Revere. Risking all, Paul Revere mounted his horse, galloped through the land and through the night, ringing the alarm,  calling out “Wake up, wake up, the British are here!” Many responded immediately, sprung to their feet, put on their fighting gear,  armed with muskets to defend their colony, homes and families.

These young patriotic and brave men, using unconventional methods, equipped with less sophisticated weaponry, withstood the better armed and trained British army. These  were later hailed and recorded in history  as the “Minutemen,” because theirs was a  within-the-minute spontaneous response to a call to duty, as well as sacrificial service. The Minutemen had ignited in the new world,  a military operation that later set the course of history – The American Revolution!

Does Nigeria need a revolution as   “push has come to shove”  in Nigeria’s beleaguered existence, and especially within its more recent history? I would think so: With heightened insecurity to persons  and properties, a depleted and almost non-existent economy, the  dearth of available basic life’s essentials – a  lack of access to potable water and food insufficiency, inadequate shelter from the elements, exorbitant cost to the means of communication and transportation.  The country’s infrastructures have fallen into dilapidation and rotted away – electricity, roads, railway, bridges, education etc., to say the least.

My  focus in this article is narrowed down upon  a specific form of insecurity currently plaguing the country: This being the Nigeria’s religiously motivated genocide and its accompanying  ethnic cleansing,  by radical Islamist terrorists,  often referred to as  ISIS in West Africa, a.k.a.,  Biko Haram, and  Myetti Allah, a.k.a, The Fulani herdsmen.

In terms of these radical Islamist terrorists, who are the analogous representations of our  Massachusetts’ Thomas Gage, and Samuel Adams? Also, who could be considered a credible “Paul Revere”  of our Nation’s imminent slide and  disappearance into oblivion?  Do we have our Minutemen and who are they? These are the nagging  questions that will not go away, but are  begging for answers.

In this article, I would limitedly  attempt to dwell on some seemingly inadequate emergence of some  “Paul Reveres” of our time and space, whose attempt to call our attention to the current religiously-motivated genocide and ethnic cleansing of certain populations of our Nigeria have received some level of public acknowledgment.

Apostle Sulaiman, a Moslem convert to Christianity and a fiery preacher, was recently thrown into the limelight with his bold stance against Nigeria’s   Islamist Jihadists. He recently made an unapologetic public denunciation against Nigeria’s  radical Islamists, over their avowed, wanton and unabated progrom of Christians and minority tribe,  across the country.

The Apostle’s emboldened call to the besieged Christians,  that they the Christians should meet the blood thirsty Islamist Jihadists “measure for measure” was immediately threatened, short circuited and  retributed. He was immediately labelled a persona non grata,  and summarily summoned by  the nation’s security apparatus for judicious interrogation. Thankfully, under the floodlight of public outcry and criticism, as well as  the broad coverage  of the press,  Apostle  Sulaiman was released: Howbeit, probably under similar strict instructions, as was given to Peter and John, and as was recorded in  Acts 4:18.

Sadly, and probably more importantly, Apostle Sulaiman was seriously  vilified and chided, by a significant segment of  Christians and their church denominations,  for his considered open affront, against the would-be “cold blood” murderers and be-headers  of  Christians.  To such hypocritical and pharisaic  Christians, the  Apostle apparently had crossed the line of biblical injunction “to love our enemies” Apostle Sulaiman was additional and  instantly branded an  apostate,  only because he dared to warn  his congregants to arm, ready to defend themselves, families and the church,  against  their could-be  brutal Islamist assailants, who could care less about  desecrating Christians’ most holy hour of worship and sanctuary with the parishioners’  innocent blood.

But was Apostle Sulaiman scriptural wrong in sounding the alarm and warning to his church members? The Bible emphatically states “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”- I Timothy 5:8. The most fundamental and primordial provision a man can make for his family is to first keep himself alive and well, after which he could and should  then keep his family safe  and secure from death and destruction. In fact, this is the basis for  the Second Amendment of the “Bill of Rights” contained in the US Constitution (1787) – The Right to Bear Arms!

Nehemiah’s effort at rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem (aptly akin to the demand for Nigeria’s Restructuring) involved organising and assigning the Jewish people, by tribes (Ethnicities, or Federating Units), families  and their leaders (individuals, churches and pastors)  to specific areas and gaps on the wall. Nehemiah equipped the people  with swords, bows, arrows, spears and shields (arms and munitions)  to defend themselves against enemy attacks with one hand, while engaging the other hand in the arduous task of the building assignment. Contextualizing the text, Christians would be gear-ready to defend themselves against  radical Islamist (Jihadist) terrorists, while simultaneously engaging in their spiritual and mundane life’s activities .

Nehemiah enjoined the Jewish Nation to “Be not afraid of them: Remember the Lord which is great and terrible, and fight  for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, and your wives, and your houses” and the work (Restructuring to achieve True Federalism) against naysayers – Nehemiah 4:14b. It is very important that Christians and minority tribes read, study and assimilate the principles enunciated in this  epic history of the Jews and the “restructuring” efforts,  led by prophet  Nehemiah  in Nehemiah 4:1-22. As things are evolving, using Nehemiah as an illustrated example, Christians currently being plagued by genocide and  minority tribes facing ethnic cleansing, may have discovered  the discerning creed, ethos  and modus operandi, for freeing themselves from their oppressors tyranny. As for Apostle Sulaiman, Thank God for the support of certain State Governor,  Regional and National church leadership, as well as prominent individuals, who stood by him throughout his ordeal.

*Dr.   Adeniyi Ojutiku is a retired Prof. of Clinical Lab. Sciences, USA.