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The danger in Nigeria’s democracy – Part 2

By Patrick Dele Cole
28 September 2022   |   1:43 am
From the steps of the Owo church, Mr. President would throw the challenge that those responsible for these massacres would be hunted down and brought to justice.

From the steps of the Owo church, Mr. President would throw the challenge that those responsible for these massacres would be hunted down and brought to justice. Such action would show non-Muslim that the danger posed by religious killing have no place in Nigeria. This protocol would be followed whenever and wherever such killing take place. Silence is not an option. It gives the impression that ASO ROCK is complicit with these barbarian killings. Politics is perception, if Muslims kill Christians and Mr. President does nothing about it, the perception would be that he was complicit.
Before long Christians will start taking measures to protect themselves.

If the leaders of the Evangelical Movements and the traditional missionary churches come together and asked their followers to come armed with guns and other instruments of war, what would happen? Supposed Christians in Owo, in a revenge fit, killed Mallams selling cigarettes or riding Okada or any Northerner they see in Owo? Some of the Northerners and other Okada drivers, in a further retaliation now kill kola nut seller, money changers, Northerners of various complexion in a revenge. Other Northerners would kill more Yorubas. How else does a civil war start? Are we ready for a civil war in Nigeria?

Buhari’s duty to Nigeria is to revive the Christian and Muslim Committee for Peaceful Co-existence. Buhari should invite the heads of all religions who would flank him while he delivers a strong message to Jihadists, bandits, ultra-right Christians- that there is no room for extremist or fundamentalist faith in Nigeria, which is a nation welcoming and defends all faiths.
It is still not too late; Buhari should go to Owo: declare that all perpetrators of the killing in Owo are not good Muslims; that there is no conspiracy for Muslims to kill Christians; that he would defend every Nigerian against ethnic and religious killing. He has to reduce the religious tension. Even he knows that a war between Christians and Muslims is unwinnable and would last several years. It will be the end of Nigeria.

Buhari is the President of Nigeria – i.e. Christians, Muslims, Animists, Atheists- all are under his protection- none deserves more protection than others. That should be the rule. His mantra should be religious freedom even if he is a pious Muslim. His piety is between himself and his God. The signals he send should be unequivocal and direct- I am the President of all Nigerians. He in fact said so at his inaugural. He should live up to his promise.

The President is also the Consoler in Chief. He is to comfort all those afflicted by natural causes, or ethnic and religious bigotry. He has a lot of good examples worldwide to draw from that fount his wisdom. He could learn from the Prime Minister of New Zealand when a bigot went to Christ Church and mowed down 159 Muslims in the Mosque. She went to Christ Church, closed all exits from New Zealand, until the culprit was found. The US has several examples. Another bigot went to a synagogue and shot dead several worshippers; in other incidents, gun men have killed school children, or shoppers in a mall and so on. In each of these sacrileges fired by hate, the President, whether Obama, Biden, Bush, went to the scene of the crimes, sat down with the relatives of those murdered, consoled them, prayed with them, invited them to the White House.

The President should leave no one in doubt about his abhorrence to these kinds of unprovoked racial, ethnic or religious killing. He should not rest until such culprits are put in jail and the relatives of those killed receive due justice. Not only the President should be seen to set these examples, the Governors and all those in authority must follow suit.
How could he go to Kuje prison which housed criminals and not go to Owo where innocents were killed?
Cole, Ph.D, OFR, is one-time Nigeria’s Ambassador to Brazil and Argentina.

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