Category Archives: Governance

LOSSES. LESSONS. LIVING.

SUSPECT! 

Be the judge: it is September (clue: Children’s school year begins) and your tablet connives with your phone to both go out of service. Who’d blame your suspecting the witches from your mother’s hamlet for such dis-empowering coincidence?
I hear witches from the mother’s side are usually more sinister.

The up-side however is, the attack drove me back to my hard copy bible. Preaching and (mostly) studying with it have brought back a ravishing joy, a remembrance of former times and a renewed love for ‘writing’, instead of typing. I’ve confirmed again, it is still the case that I get more ‘stuff’, maybe because I think better and clearer, when writing, than I do when typing. I am stuck it seems.

I don’t know how much longer I have to go on like this, but whenever the toys are back, I hope to not let go of this revived discipline. I am realizing how much my creativity has fossilized, in the bid to go ‘all digital’. Now, the decided combo is: study with the toys but write more with a pen, an actual pen, on actual paper.
Maybe not so efficient, but more effective, more productive, more authentically me; for now at least.

Treatise
When I have a handy toy again, I will share from my ongoing study of Acts of the Apostles. It is a book I study every year. This particular episode is unearthing incredible treasures. After 3 weeks, I am yet to go past chapter 1. Officially though, I’m in chapter 5. Something in the first 8 verses of chapter 1 keeps calling me back. God’s Rhema-light seems to be on repeat mode upon those opening 8 verses. Each time the Rhema-light beams on them, new bundles of revelation display fresh colours – in the resplendent beauty of the present light.
O, how life transforming to study under the light of lights!

Nigeria
Differently, I have followed, howbeit with disinterest, the happenings in Kogi state, the state of my parents. My thought in one word: PAIN.
What did kogi do to deserve this torture? Choosing between Audu and Wada is like making a choice between Ogogoro and Sapele water. Tell, what’s the difference?

GMB has not disappointed me. I have no expectations. However, he is yet to surprise me. I am waiting. He made a few good choices in the nomination of the noise makers, but I saw much of it coming. Not a surprise.
Congrats to Ocholi (SAN): Good Nigerian, brilliant man. You make us proud.

Ministry
Hmm, I have somewhat been every where in Nigeria this past quarter. Okay, I was in all 6 Geo-political zones for sure; preaching in an array of settings. The testimony has been the same. The conviction grows stronger: The gospel is true. It is God’s power for salvation. It works. But it works because it is true. It is not true simply because it works.

I am a witness. God still saves, transforms, heals, delivers, energizes, enriches, and more. He is everything He always is! The I AM.
And, the safety I enjoy, sometimes driving 5000 km a month, on Nigeria roads, is phenomenal. God loves me.

The privilege of being a Gospel-bearer is a joy beyond expression!
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
It is God’s saving power.
It is my life!

Friends-Bit
Friends who pray for us: Thank you. God keeps answering.
Friends who support us in practical ways: Thank you. Your support eases our burden.
Friends who just wish us well: Thank you. God recognizes your kind thoughts.

Thank you all for standing with us; even when I’ve been out of circulation on sundry platforms, of late.

Thank you!

#SingingHallelujah

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CIVILITY IN THE FACE OF RELIGION: A Proposal

For the records

Any ideology, however sane and robust,  can be abused. Religion is not different. Historically, even Christianity, founded upon the Christ of history — Christ who would rather die than take up arms in self-defense — has been abused by people with evil motives. Apart from teaching us: “love your enemies”, Jesus Christ walked His talk during His arrest, when He restored the ear of a servant of the high priest. Peter, in zeal for his Lord had slashed off the servant’s ear. Rather than praise Peter, Christ rebuked him. How then can anyone go to war, or kill in the name and defense of this Christ? How? But several people have done exactly that, in the history of the church. Shame.

I have been thinking quite seriously (and reading Os Guinness) about religion and our national experiment, one thing that’s come home for me is that, because of the inappropriateness plus impracticability of rigorously regulating religious beliefs/teachings, we must focus more on civic education and the regulation of behaviour. The posture I’m advocating for, sounds like this: “I don’t care what you believe, but because none of us lives in a vacuum, we have to negotiate what is acceptable behaviour, for the sake of our corporate existence as a nation.” Then, we must proceed to teach these negotiated code of conduct in our civic education project.

It is possible. It is workable. Back in the day, “the American way” used to be taught in schools, and to immigrants coming into the USA. The USA is a religiously plural society but they negotiated a way to ensure unity without inhibiting liberty and diversity. There are debates over how well they are doing today in this respect, which is what informed my use of “back in the day” earlier. The point, nevertheless, remains: unity is possible in the face of diversity.

Head-on

The trouble in Nigeria is, we lie too much to ourselves. If you raise the issues that threaten our existence as a nation, you’d be quickly accused and branded as divisive. Yet, the commonality between a people never made them go for a civil war. What binds us together is not the reason we fight. It is differences that drive a wedge between groups of people, if the differences are not discussed with the view of finding a civil agreement. In discussing these differences, there will be need for concessions and sacrifices, because, that is how agreements are negotiated.

In the words of Os Guinness: ‘differences make a difference.’ In our case as Nigeria, we are not just up against differences. We are up against differences, and suspicions, and accusations. Muslims suspect Christians, Christians suspect Muslims. Each accuses the other. When you throw coercive silence into the mix, as has been the case over the years, the result is a nation dancing gleefully on a path of self destruction.

No group of people advanced because they ignored their significant differences. But negotiating differences, and suspicions, and accusations, which is what is required, take a lot of maturity and guts. Sadly, maturity and guts are not our strong points, as a nation. I guess this is why two very irresponsible solutions are usually advocated by many Nigerians.

Away with religion!

On one hand, there are people who say: “let’s get religion out of our clime. Let’s educate our people away from religion, because it is religion that poisons everything.” This view is not only factually wrong and naive, it is ludicrous. Religion, historically speaking, has been a force for enormous good even though it is occasionally hijacked to perpetrate evils. On a balance, it has done more good than whatever evil has been achieved by its mishandlers. Secondly and more importantly, religion will not go away. The attempt to muzzle it out of existence was made in China. Today, that nation has one of the highest Christian population (per country) in the world. Some of the leading figures in our world today are deeply religious people. In a sentence, religion will not go away.

Keep quiet

On the other hand, there are Nigerians who promote coercive silence. Their posture is something like denial. They assume that if we refrain from discussing our differences and suspicions, they will simply go away. Consequently, they spare nothing to brand you an “enemy of progress”, and a heater up of the polity, if you attempt to bring our differences and suspicions up for discussion. What they are occasioning (maybe without realizing) is a situation where the (perceived or alleged) oppressor continues to oppress, and the (perceived or alleged) oppressed continues to be, or to feel oppressed.

You may get me to keep quiet about my suspicions of you but that won’t make those suspicions go away. The suspicions will rather fester and continue to build up till they find a vent in some other ways, ways that will be far more deadly than whatever would have come out of discussing the suspicions and differences and accusations, in the first place. When people are bullied or blackmailed into silence in the face of perceived injustices, they are inadvertently empowered to explode upon the perceived bully, or to self destruct, or to achieve both. Coercive silence is corrosive. Everybody losses.

Balance

The balance is not to banish religion from the horizon, neither is it to demand silence from those with objections to the current state of things. The balance is to let everybody be heard, and provide opportunities for civil engagements over what must be seen as rights, and privileges, and duties — for all. The backbone of a robust republic is an unwavering commitment to the trio of dignity, liberty and equality for all. The terms of our continual coexistence as a nation must be negotiated and agreed upon by all stakeholders and for future/potential stakeholders: Religious and regional.

 

The Weapon of Voice

“…An adequate relationship with God permits and requires a human voice that will speak out against every wrong perpetrated either on earth or by heaven.” — Walter Brueggemann.

I find fault with people working to ruin GEJ’s government. But I can’t blame them for his response. His response is his responsibility.

Every government has opposition. And, Opposition ‘oppose’ (That’s what they do!). The onus is on the Incumbent to minimize the bite of the opposition. This is what he hasn’t done satisfactorily, giving room for and legitimizing the public outcry, protests, and social media campaigns. @BringBackOurGirls

PRIORITIES
Criticizing the President, in the current case is a non issue as far as I’m concerned. Sincerely, when the lives of so many innocent girls are at stake, as is the case, I am baffled that what some people are primarily concerned about is HOW we talk to/about the President, a President whose response was glaringly tardy and uninspiring, in the aftermath of the abduction. I am baffled.

Some of us should repent!

VOICE
The American President, contrary to what some Nigerians think, is one of the most criticized leaders in the world. apparently, the more freedom of speech a people enjoy, the more speech you’ll get from the people.

I am ashamed of many of our Prominent Christian leaders in the land who have remained mum or have been vaguely vocal over this matter, especially (but not exclusively) those who are publicly cordial with the President. They champion a PRAY-ONLY stance. Today, the noise of the deviants — in large parts (plus Prayers no doubt) — has rightly positioned this matter as an international emergency.

THE POINT IS
Whether the girls are found through the help now offered by the International community is besides the point. At the end of the day, we ordinary Nigerians, as applicable, would have done about the most we can do.
We spoke up.
We stood up.
We prayed up.

We will tell ourselves that:
We used our voice against violence and perceived unresponsiveness. We raised a cry to God, a campaign against terror, and an alarm against complacent, unresponsive leadership. We have the weapon of our voice. We used it.

I want to be sure, to be confident that I was not among those who
held back…
Those who were
Vocal Champions of silence.

I want to be sure that I
Prayed up
Stood up
Spoke up.

I continue
To Pray
To Stand
To Speak
To Hope

ONE DESIRE…
Ultimately, I hope and believe, that someday, soon enough, we will have our girls back.

May God, and the President He has confirmed over us now unite to ‪#‎PleaseBringBackOurGirls‬.

“It is simply astonishing that when the powerless find voice, done at great risk, things must happen differently among the powerful, including God.”
— Walter Brueggemann

‪#‎bringBackOurGirls‬

MY GROUSE, MR. PRESIDENT

Dear Mr. President,

I have heard that some Planners and Propagandists are working hard to give you a bad name, make Nigeria ungovernable for you and possibly force you out of office. I have heard. And I believe there is a lot of truth in what I have heard. After-all, there is no smoke without fire.

Sir, maybe you can’t altogether stop them from their plans and propagandas. But right now, I don’t care what they plan. I care that I have a President who has left them free to roam, to plan, and above all, to execute.

The Grid
Whatever tied your hands, Mr. President, is your worst enemy; not the Planners and Propagandists. Remember the saying about not being able to stop a bird from flying, but being able to do something about whether it perches on your head..? Sir, the bird seems to have perched unchecked. Next level, it has not only perched but has made nests (a colony) in your ‘hair’, for breeding and bleeding. Figures vary on the number of Mates & Allies & Chicks & sympathizers in its nest-in-your-hair, as I write.

I don’t blame you for whatever the self acclaimed great-grand Children of Dan Fodio are scheming… If they are. True, I don’t blame you for that. I blame you Sir, for your seeming ineptitude. No ruler (read President) bears the sword in vain.

You are called C-in-C of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for a reason. More sir, aren’t you arguably the most Powerful President in the world, constitutionally? Why aren’t you using your enormous, enviable powers against the Powers-against-Nigeria?

Since you claim to be a Christian like I also do. Let’s do a quick, brief stop at the Bible: Speaking to citizens about their political leaders, scriptures say:

For he (Mr President) is the servant of God to you for good. but IF YOU DO EVIL, HAVE FEAR; for the sword is not in his hand for nothing: he is God’s servant, MAKING GOD’S PUNISHMENT COME ON THE EVIL-DOER. — Romans 13:4 (My parenthesis & caps)

Please, live up to your mandate under God. That’s all!

Have you not heard; haven’t you observed? There is a reversal in the land. Those who do evil have NO FEAR. Those who are law-abiding have ALL THE FEAR. This is an aberration of the plain expectation of God and of the Nigerian people. Correct this absurdity, this injustice going on under your watch. Reverse this reversed order.

You can!
Sir, unleash terror on evil doers. Let the thought of being caught THINKING, not even DOING evil — in the order of Boko Haram — send down spasms of fear through the spine of every son of Belial in this land. You have necessary and sufficient powers to make this proposal a reality. Let those that do evil have fear, as the bible commands and as Nigerians demand & deserve.

Bar or Bury ’em
Nobody is too big to be put behind bars or beneath the earth if he or she dares a nation like Nigeria has been dared. Truth be told: nobody will believe you, Sir, if you try to tell us you don’t have Intelligence info as per those sponsoring mayhem in the land. Put them behind bars while their trial lasts… Let them go out of circulation. Targeting their footsoldiers alone, as seems to have been the case, isn’t helping us. Frustrate the sponsors. You can!

In essence
You have not demonstrated a resolve, in stopping the Carnage in the land, anywhere near the felt resolve of those perpetrating these atrocities within our borders.

This, Mr. president, is my grouse.

God bless Nigeria

Keeping & Feeding Boko Haram:

Can we ever tell ourselves the truth in this country?

If I am questioning ‘ability’ by posing the ‘can’ question, the answer is easily a ‘Yes’. Yes, we can tell ourselves the truth.

But of course I’m asking the big question: “WILL we ever tell ourselves the truth in this country?” Someday, maybe. But WHEN will such a day break?

We have kept and fed BH by the continual dual acts of blatant, brazen Lie-telling and an Ostrich posture, a posture facilitated by Cowardice-masquerading-as-religion (Religion is a handy excuse for inactivity, in this country at least, and for Christians especially).

LIES THAT KEEP BH ALIVE AND THRIVING!
“Poverty, Unemployment and underdevelopment are the root causes of the agitation…” Big lie!
(It cost fortunes to sustain the BH movement)

“Religion has nothing to do with this…” Big lie!
(Those suicide bombers are not dying for PDP or APC, by their own admission)

“The government is doing its best…” Big big lie!
(No ‘big shot’ has been convicted for BH related offense)

“The Northern Elites/Elders are doing their best…” Fat lie!
(Most of them are elusive and vague. They are guilty of complicity or scared of consequences. Those who have been vocal against BH have been threatened, attacked or killed).

“BH is faceless…” Lie!
(They have known camps in known forests in known regions of Nigeria. Does Sambisa ring a bell?)

“Their sponsors are unidentifiable, and when identified are untouchable…” Nonsense!
(No comment. Pure nonsense)

“Nigeria will split if Government takes decisive action against the Nigerians behind BH…” Flat lie!
(Nigerians, not the leaders, are the reason why there is still Nigeria)

“The president’s exit from office, alone, will end the attacks…” Lie!
(BH predates him. What they want must be more than him.)

“Sensoring the content of religious sermons (in churches and mosques) will help curb religious radicalization…” Unrealizable lie!
(It is first a violation of freedom of conscience and speech. Then there will be practical insurmountable problems with execution).

END NOTES
If the government claims not to have reliable intelligence report on the brain behind BH, our intelligence units have lost their legitimacy. They should be scrapped.

It takes lots of money to prosecute the sort of sustained attacks we have suffered at the hands of the beast called BH. They must leave a trail. Nay, trails! Trails in their financial transactions. Trails in arms sourcing. Trails in their recruitment exercise. They must leave trails everywhere, enough to identify the sponsors.

Fighting the foot soldiers of BH alone, won’t take us far on the path of progress against BH. We must come at them from beneath (sponsors) and above (foot soldiers).

When we mollify ourselves with lies, for fear of the discomforts of truth, we may call such act ‘Progressive’, or ‘Enlightened’; it matters nothing. It remains what it is: ruinous, damnable lies.

Tell the truth and it will discomfort many of us.
Continue with the lies and we will all drown.

Only the truth, nothing but the truth saves; will save us!

Next, I should talk about “Religion and Boko Haram” or “Religion and everything else”.

But for now, what other lies do you think we are peddling in the fight against Boko Haram? What’s the truth; What do you think?
Let’s have your opinion.