By Dapo Akinrefon, Sam Eyoboka & Olayinka Ajayi
Soyinka berates FG over Obasanjo’s message
Says Nigeria undergoing horrendous descent to the abyss
Southern, Middle Belt leaders kick against Fulani radio
National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, have thrown their weight behind Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s call for an end to insecurity in the country.
While NCEF agreed with the former president that Boko Haram and herdsmen activities have become a tool to Fulanise West Africa and Islamise Africa, Soyinka said the country was undergoing horrendous descent to the abyss.
This is even as Southern and Middle Belt leaders kicked against plans by the Federal Government to float a Fulani radio station that would broadcast only in Fulfude.
The NCEF insisted that the Federal Government had not done enough to convince people that it has no Fulanisation agenda and to Islamise the country through Jihad.
Obasanjo had in a keynote address at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, in Oleh, the administrative capital of Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, warned against plot to Fulanise West Africa and Islamise Africa through Boko Haram exploits.
We’re hundred percent behind Obasanjo —Christian Elders
Reacting in a telephone interview, yesterday, chairman of the forum, Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, said: “We are behind Chief Olusegun Obasanjo one hundred per cent on his comments that Boko Haram insurgency and herdsmen crisis had become an agenda to ‘Fulanise’ West Africa and ‘Islamise’ Africa.”
Asemota said his group, which comprises retired professionals from different fields of human endeavour, including very senior army generals such as former Defence Minister, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd), has actually done a position paper on the issue to two former Heads of State for them to arrest the drift of the nation.
The group said: “We wrote to former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd) and former President Olusegun Obasanjo because we are convinced that unless there is genuine reconciliation over two conflicting ideologies in the country, the current security challenges will not only continue, but will also escalate because we are at war with ourselves unnecessarily.
“Again, I say we support President Obasanjo hundred percent. In fact, I am of the feeling that he made the statement after reading the letter I sent to him on the issue. He understands that the current government is promoting Sharia ideology, which is at variance with democratic norms.
“Anybody who does not understand what we are saying should visit our website and see for him/her self the agenda this government is pursuing. What is baffling though is the fact that two eminent Christian leaders (names withheld) are the ones promoting the Islamic cause. Where are the Muslims?”
He recalled the group’s recent statement, entitled: “Jihad in Nigeria: Burying The Head in Sand,” where it was compelled to defend its earlier release, entitled “Correct Assessment of Situation in Nigeria,” which has generated a great deal of debate among some Nigerian Muslim leaders who have denied the reality of an ongoing Jihad in Nigeria, and clarified certain misconceptions in the interest of peace and development of Nigeria.
Urges leaders to tread softly
After reviewing unfolding events across the country, the eminent Christian elders called on Nigerian leaders to tread softly to avoid a pending implosion, insisting that the real problem was that a Jihad had been launched in Nigeria.
It also contended that Islamists that have been interfering in the governance of the country, using “Taqiyya” (approved deception) as “Stealth/Civilisation Jihad,” Boko Haram and herdsmen as violent Jihad, were relentless in their pursuit of eradicating democracy in Nigeria.
It said: “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.”
Nigeria moving dangerously close to national red line
Noting that Nigeria was moving dangerously close to a national “red line” where truth was now being criminalised as “hate speech,” NCEF said it was committed to the unity of Nigeria, contending that the duty of the leadership of the nation was to ensure that this unity was not sacrificed on the altar of sectarian interests and biases.
It noted: “The NCEF is fully aware of the seriousness of these issues and wishes to share this information for the consideration of serious minds desirous of providing solutions to the myriad of problems confronting Nigeria.
“The NCEF has taken on this onerous task, not for the interest of the present Christian elders, most of whom are in the boarding lounge to eternity, but in the interest of the coming generations.”
NCEF challenges Muslim leaders
The NCEF challenged Muslim leaders denying the existence of a Jihad in the country to clarify certain pronouncements over the issue, including a declaration by Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, in one of his videos in 2012 that the war they were prosecuting was not political but religious.
The group quoted Shekau as saying: “It is between Muslims and unbelievers (arna). It will stop when Islamic religion is the determinant in governance in Nigeria or, in the alternative, when all fighters are annihilated and no one is left to continue the fight.
“I warn all Muslims at this juncture that any Muslim who assists an unbeliever in this war should consider himself an unbeliever and should consider himself dead.’’
‘’If this statement is not a declaration of Jihad, could Muslim leaders explain what this means?” the group said.
Soyinka berates FG over Obasanjo’s message
Meanwhile, Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has thrown his weight behind President Obasanjo’s concern over the insecurity fuelled by Boko Haram, herdsmen and bandits in the country.
Speaking at the United Bank for Africa, UBA, symposium tagged: “Africa’s history redefined: Our past, a path to the future, Soyinka said there was nothing wrong with the former president’s statement that Boko Haram and herdsmen have become a tool for Fulanisation of West Africa and Islamisation of Africa.
He said: ‘’I see that the government is not happy with the statement made by former President Obasanjo. Now, everybody knows me and Obasanjo, and at the same time, I think we should be very careful not to be too dismissive or even abrasive.
‘’Obasanjo was calling for a meeting of stakeholders to tackle some of the very serious aspects of social malaise this country is undergoing. He was talking about kidnapping, talking about youth suicide and stating that it is about time, Nigrians across board, irrespective of ideology, polity, religion, sit down and tackle these issues immediately; and I will suggest that even more immediate.
Nigeria undergoing horrendous descent to the abyss
‘’This country is undergoing a horrendous descent into the abyss spiritually, morally, the whole system. We are watching a huge mass of people descend into a state of brutishness, the like of which we have not experienced in this country.
“And so, if you go into the streets and you say Africa must unite, what the man in the street is going to say is Mr. Leader, will you get my people out of the kidnappers’ den first and then, I will come and talk to you about unity.’’
Soyinka also disclosed that the issue of Boko Haram was being discussed at the British Parliament and wondered if Nigeria and Africa should ask Britain to suspend the discussion to allow the continent surrender to Boko Haram in the name of unity.
‘’Right now, let me be real, the issue of Boko Haram is being debated in the Parliament in England; right now, as we are speaking. Well, should we just go to them and say don’t worry, we are being united; and all we have to do is surrender to Boko Haram,’’ Soyinka stated.
He noted that while having unity and common language was important, it has to be particularised to each nation’s condition and realities.
Southern, Middle Belt leaders kick against Fulani radio
Also, yesterday, Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum faulted the plan to set up a radio station for herdsmen to broadcast in Fulfude.
In a statement by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South-East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), the leaders faulted the move, saying “it smacks of hypocrisy and deception.”
The forum said it received with rude shock the announcement of plan to set up an AM radio station for herdsmen to broadcast in Fulfude.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had confirmed the acquisition of the licence in Abuja, Tuesday, saying the radio service will operate on frequency of 720KHz, and will be strictly on Fulani language.
He disclosed that plans were underway to secure funds for procurement and installation of requisite transmission equipment for the successful take-off of the radio station.
He added that the station was part of the peace-building efforts of the government to address herders-farmers clashes.
Also, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education, NCNE, Prof. Bashir Usman, had explained that some veteran Hausa broadcasters had been contacted to develop programmes for the station.
The Southern, Middle Belt leaders’ statement read: “The announcement came at a time the Federal Government has been acting as the information arm of Boko Haram and herdsmen by using the correct interpretation of the groups activities as attempt to ‘Fulanise’ Nigeria.
“We totally reject this insensitive decision of the government on the following fundamental grounds:
“It smacks of hypocrisy and deception for a government that has in the last four years denied responsibility on behalf of the herdsmen for crimes they even owned up to, to now tell us it wants to set up a radio for them to address the same issues.
“Section 55 of the 1999 Constitution recognises English,Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo as languages in which the official business of the National Assembly can be conducted. There was no mention of Fulani, which is not a language most northerners even understand.
‘’Will it also set up radio stations for the officially recognised languages and the over 250 languages spoken in different parts of Nigeria?
“We fear seriously that the proposed radio will become a weapon of spreading hate propaganda against other nationalities in Nigeria, given the kid gloves treatment with which the Buhari administration has handled the killings of thousands of Nigerians in the last four years. ”
‘’We are aware of the genocide-aiding role Radio Rwanda and RTLM played in inciting ordinary citizens to take part in the massacre of Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the Rwandan genocide.
‘’From 1993 to late 1994, RTLM was used by Hutu leaders for spread of an extremist Hutu message and anti-Tusti disinformation by identifying specific targets and areas where they could be found and encouraged the progress of the genocide.
‘’In 1994, Rwanda Radio began to advance the same message by issuing directives on where to kill Tutsis, congratulating those who had already taken part .
“Using the instrumentality of the Federal Government to set up a radio for herdsmen will throw a knife at the tiniest of the threads still holding Nigeria together.
‘’We, therefore, demand that the Federal Government perish the thought of a Fulani radio sponsored by government if it cares in any form about the corporate existence of the country.”