Boko Haram: Forgiveness, Justice and the Church/

A few days ago, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dogara, implored Christians in the North of the country to forgive Boko Haram members. Mr Dogara, while acknowledging that "…the rights of our people as entrenched in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended, to worship and choose their religion has been violated …" goes on to say "Christians would need to forgive those who, especially in the last six years, have promoted, strengthened and supported the massive destruction that the Church and others had suffered…" - Because, according to the legislator, the blood of saints cannot be shed in vain. But all these dulcet platitudes are mere regurgitation of the timeworn principle of "turning the other cheek" that is designed to make Christians compliant, so that they suffer - peacefully.

Whenever there is 'religious crisis', which is nothing but economic crisis [fuelled by ethnic tensions] turned inside out, other faiths, apart from Islam are normally at the receiving end of injustice. You will be forgiven for thinking that Nigeria is an Islamic state that is intolerant of other religions in its midst. From the furthest reaches of northern Nigeria to the coast, Islam influences the way Nigerians live - for better or for worse. The constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria was written in such a way that Moslem sensitivities were generously taken care of, by entrenching deliberate ambiguities, leaving other interest groups with the illusion of inclusion. Christians and other non-Islamic religions have had no choice but to forgive, or suffer, for most of Nigeria's chequered history - more than five decades. Christians are encouraged to forgive Boko Haram; a so-called rag tag band of zealots, after about six years of maniacal onslaught on Nigeria's sovereignty, in a nation which theoretically is among the top five military powers in Africa. But even to the casual observer, there is something deeper and uglier going on - the lack of justice and equity amongst the people of Nigeria.

In case you are not aware, the Chibok girls were mainly, if not all, Christians. A possible theory is that the abduction of the girls was deliberately planned, in active connivance with the authorities responsible for keeping them and the security forces that looked the other way. Why gather so many children in a dangerous place without adequate security when exams could be conducted elsewhere? How were the trucks able to evade 'security forces' both to and from Chibok? And why was there no effort in the immediate aftermath of the abduction to chase down the trucks before they disappeared, either into the forest or over the border? These questions and their possible answers lie at the heart of the Chibok tragedy - the fact that a nation betrayed its children and its future! For all the atrocities committed in the name of Islam against Christians in Nigeria, there have been no real efforts to investigate or bring perpetrators to book. In fact, the killings are sometimes officially sanctioned or for the most part condoned. When any of the killings happen, government speak includes 'investigating the remote and immediate causes' of the pogroms, but the results of the 'investigation' never sees the light of day. Because in most cases, over the years, the most powerful forces able to suppress or ignore the truth in Nigeria resides in sympathetic Muslim hands.

The Speaker further urged clergymen to "live above board" and not "look up to the world for leadership" - whatever that means.  Well, Sir, that train has left the station, a long time ago, because the clergymen and the worldly leaders are bedmates. It may surprise the Speaker that Church leadership is not in the business of true emancipation of Christians but cajoling us into the fatal complacency, we normally call 'looking for breakthroughs'. It is easier to point away to heaven, when you are ashamed of pointing at, or examining yourself in the light of its demands. The clergy have hoodwinked us into thinking that the 'prosperity' of God looks better on them than on the faithful parishioner.  The clergy fly in jets, while we crawl on all fours, begging for bread and jobs in such a rich nation - and yet, they expect us to bray 'praise the Lord'.

Mr Speaker; we are better off without the leadership of clergy, who for all intents and purposes, have betrayed and abandoned us over the decades. They have encouraged forgiveness without justice and equity, and have colluded with political leaders, to rob us of our commonwealth.