Abakaliki Diocesan Priest Tips Obi For President

…Writes Epistle To Nigerian Christians

Patriotic Solidarity:
The Revolution Is Here With Us
By Rev. Fr. John Odey
February 10, 2023

The revolution is here on our threshold. Can it be averted? Can we make it peaceful? Are the political leaders of Nigeria aware of its imminence? Do they really care to know whether it is here or not? Do they see and hear what common Nigerians like me see and hear every day? Did they see or hear of that man, a married man with children, who stripped himself completely naked (like Adam) in the bank, crying and asking the bank staff to give him his money because his wife and children were dying of hunger? Did they see or hear about that middle-aged mother who did something similar, though with some modicum of self-respect? Did they see or hear about the man who climbed the counter in the bank, laid down prostrate on it and refused to leave the bank until he had been given his money? Do they dare to come out of their comfortable homes or offices to see the battle that goes on in the bank from morning till night and from day to day among innocent citizens asking to be given their money?

Can they recall the number of people so far shot/killed by the police for protesting against the odds in the banks? Does it occur to them that the policy of trapping people’s money in the banks puts the lives of bank staff at a great risk? Do they care to know about the war that goes on in the fuel stations across the length and breadth of the country? Does it bother them that for majority of Nigerians life is no more than a compulsive and progressive nightmare? Are our leaders listening to the lamentations of the people? Are they at all perturbed? Whether they are perturbed or not, that powerful elegy from Chinua Achebe should keep ringing loud and clear in our heads: “Does it ever worry us that history which neither personal wealth nor power can pre-empt will pass terrible judgement on us, pronounce anathema on our names when we have accomplished our betrayal and passed on. We have lost the twentieth century; are we bent on seeing that our children also lose the twenty-first?”

They really and truly want to see our children lose the twenty-first century. But they will fail. They have failed. Their time is up! On February 28, 2004, Kunle Ajibade, the Executive Editor of TheNEWS magazine, presented a paper at a symposium organized by The Press Club of the Federal Government College, Ijanikan, Lagos. That paper was later published in the March 15, 2004 edition of the magazine under the title, “The Beast In Them”. In the article Ajibade recalled what happened on December 4, 2003, when the then President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa gave the 20th Anniversary Lecture of the Guardian newspaper. While the lecture was superb, he said, what absorbed him more and kept him thinking about the state of our nation at the end of the lecture was the question that a Catholic priest present asked the then Vice President Atiku Abubakar during the question-and-answer session. Ajibade said: “When the Rev. Father mounted the podium as one of the speakers, during the Question-and-Answer session, he turned respectfully to Atiku Abubakar, the vice-president of Nigeria, who was the Special Guest of Honour, and asked boldly: ‘Why does your government treat us as animals? Why don’t you treat us as human beings?’”

Nineteen years later, that question remains unanswered. It is therefore time to revisit the question. It is time to ask our leaders whom they are working for. Do they work for themselves, families, close friends and political sycophants or for all Nigerians? What is the hidden agenda for collecting all our money, trapping it in the banks and allowing us to suffer and die? What accounts for the hurtling fuel scarcity that is currently telling very hard on the citizenry and is threatening to sink Nigeria? What accounts for their deafening silence in the midst of our heart-rending lamentations? Are we being ruled by humane creatures or demented sadists? Like that priest, we ask, why are our so-called leaders treating their fellow Nigerians like animals? What wrong have we done to deserve such treatment? When will they stop treating us like animals? Why must they keep driving our youths virtually crazy? Why have they allowed the Boko Haram diehards, Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, unknown gunmen and so on to kidnap and to slaughter people like animals? Granted that our so-called leaders are still normal human beings, let somebody tell them that whatever goes up must come down someday. They should know that Nigeria is now perching on the threshold of a revolution. Our youths are hot. They are angry. They are desperate. They are spoiling for action. And there is a pressing need to handle them with care during the 2023 election.

A revolution can be peaceful or violent depending on how the powers that be react to it. When people feel that they have unjustifiably suffered enough, any slight mistake can trigger off a revolution. That is what happened in Tunisia in December 2010. On that fateful day, the police seized vegetables being sold on the street by a 26-year old young man called Mohammed Bouzaizi. He decided to sell vegetables on the street in order to survive because he had no job after graduating in the university. After the seizure of his vegetables he committed suicide. When the news of his suicide spread through the country, it generated a spontaneous, violent and widespread reaction that eventually overthrew the president of the country, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, from his throne. Mohammed did not plan a revolution with anybody. He did not foresee what would follow his suicide. He just got tired of living in an unjust and oppressive society. He was already dead and gone when his country exploded in a violent revolution.

In Nigeria we have the fortune and the misfortune at the same time that the very factors that divide us are also the factors that forcibly hold us together, making it impossible for the oppressed to unite against our oppressors. Those factors are predominantly religion, tribe. Some of our Muslim brothers tell us in plain language that it is better for them to be ruled by a bad Muslim than by a good “infidel”, if at all they believe there is a good “infidel”. And every Christian is an “infidel”. Some believe that their ethnic group is born to rule while the rest of Nigerians are born to be ruled by them. In a country like that the oppressed hardly come together under one umbrella to remove the yoke of oppression. That is why the good number of people being slaughtered in this country on daily basis does not move a hair from our so-called leaders.

Yet, as docile and uninformed as the common Nigerians might be, many, particularly the youths, are beginning to understand that they are the losers in the nation’s current political dispensation. Irrespective of religion and tribe, there is now understanding among the youths from the East, West, North and South. Being tired of bad leadership, they are all clamouring for a change, for a better Nigeria. Such clamour is likely to snowball into a revolution if it is not heeded. It stands to reason therefore that it is only people who do not know how to interpret history and events that will deny the fact that Nigeria may be heading for a revolution if the 2023 election is not freely and fairly conducted.

Revolution is not a picnic. People embark on revolutions as the last resort after they have ultimately become tired of putting up with unbearable conditions that are clearly antithetical to their being and oppressive of their rights. Revolution takes place when people held in bondage under an oppressive condition learn the great lesson of life, that those who hold other people in bondage will never let them go until the latter have learnt to fight for their freedom. Freedom is not given on a platter of gold. It must be fought for and won at a cost. Our political leaders should know that ordinary Nigerians, particularly the youths, are now prepared to pay any price to reclaim Nigeria and then recover their lost freedom? When oppressed people come to realize that they have mindlessly been ignored and treated as if they never existed, the type of action they initiate to draw the attention of all and sundry to their veritable existence and to their right to live may result in a revolution.

In theory, every modern dictator believes that Abraham Lincoln got it right when he described democracy as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. In the year 1932, after reflecting on the harm that evil men have done to their fellow human beings in the name of this same beautiful word, “democracy”, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared: “Democracy has disappeared from several other great nations, not because the people of those nations disliked democracy, but because they had grown tired of unemployment and insecurity, of seeing their children hungry while they sat hopeless in the face of government confusion and weakness through lack of leadership in government.”

By the time this statement was made Nigeria had not become an independent country. Yet, the statement looks much like a premonition for today’s Nigeria. If Nigerian leaders are still trapped in their cocooned political paradise from where it is impossible for them to know the true state of the nation, this is the time to tell them that Nigerians are tired of unemployment and insecurity. They are tired of seeing the young and the old die of hunger and despair as our government swims in corruption and gropes in utter confusion. They are tired of being helpless victims of the rage of the young ones who feel that their country is out to destroy them.

Parents are tired of seeing their children plunge themselves in droves into the grotesque industry of hawking and touting as the only gift which their fatherland can offer to them at their tender age instead of going to school. Our youths are tired of being turned into political thugs during elections and given guns and other lethal weapons to kill for our so-called leaders only to be discarded after elections. They are tired of sitting at home for many months instead of being in the universities as a result of the criminal negligence of our so-called leaders who destroy our universities and send their own children overseas. Nigerians are tired of leaders who tell them lies, who are selfish, who are heartless, who are greedy and insatiable, who flout the law and the constitution of the land with impunity, who reap from where they did not sow, who are prepared to inflict maximum harm on those who do not share their views, and who cannot impart on our youths the virtues of truthfulness, honesty, hard work, altruism, love of neighbour and patriotism.

It is an immutable law of nature that whatever has a beginning must one day come to an end and whatever goes up must come down. When Muhammad Buhari came bamboozling us with his exceedingly orchestrated change mantra in 2015, brandishing APC broom and deceptively promising to sweep away all the corruption, insecurity, nepotism, religious bigotry and all the vices that have combined to cripple Nigeria some of us thought that the Atlantic Ocean would not be deep enough to swallow the refuse that would be assembled by his broom. But here we are. Buhari’s administration has KILLED Nigeria with corruption, insecurity, nepotism and religious bigotry.

Come Saturday, February 25, 2023, we have a singular opportunity to launch a positive change in Nigeria. It is going to be a revolution. On that day, Nigerians, particularly Nigerian Christians, are going to make a choice between life and death, freedom and slavery, religious freedom or religious cleansing, inclusive democracy or nepotistic democracy. The all-informative social media have given us all the necessary information we need to know about the gravity of the danger facing Christians in this country if we make the mistake of failing to vote for Peter Obi as our next president.

For this reason, it is pertinent for us to recall here St. Paul’s account of how he toiled day and night in the course of spreading the Christian faith. This will help us to understand the gravity of what happened later and the extent to which our Christian faith is threatened. In his Second Letter to the Corinthians St. Paul wrote:

“I have been sent to prison more often, and whipped so many times more, often almost to death. Five times I had the thirty-nine lashes from the Jews; three times I have been beaten with sticks; once I was stoned; three times I have been shipwrecked and once adrift in the open sea for a night and a day. Constantly travelling, I have been in danger from rivers and in danger from brigands, in danger from my own people and in danger from pagans; in danger in the towns, in danger in the open country, danger at sea and danger from so-called brothers. I have worked and laboured, often without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty and often starving; I have been in the cold without clothes. And, to leave out much more, there is my daily preoccupation: my anxiety for all the Churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:16-29).

The sad thing about Paul’s account as outlined in this passage is not his suffering as such because he enjoyed suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save us. The sad thing about the passage is that today, there is no Christianity in all of those places where he suffered exceedingly to plant the Christian faith. Long ago, under the banner of their holy way called jihad, Muslims whipped out Christianity from those places.

That is what they have been trying to do here in Nigeria. Think of the often-quoted statement of Sir Ahmadu Bello who declared: “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the north as willing tools and the south as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their own future.”

That is it! Possibly at the risk of offending some people without intending to do so, I wish to say that we Christians, particularly our Church leaders, have been partners in the crime of those who want to wipe out Christianity in Nigeria because, as I have repeatedly said, we allowed them to overwhelm us completely before we began to realize that there is danger. It should not have been so.

If the peace of the graveyard that has been holding sway in this country has been preventing Christians from understanding and taking into serious consideration the full implications of the assertion that the minorities of the North should be used as tools while the South should be used as conquered territories, today the bold handwriting on the wall of our harassed nation and slaughtered people has become self-explanatory. Today, a good number of Christians are wide awake. We are learning our lessons from the hard facts and bitter happenings around us. The greater part of the mayhem that has been inflicted on the nation in the East, West, North and South is caused by an attempt to live by the legacy of defeat, domination and islamization inherited from the founding fathers of Northern/Islamic supremacy.

February 25, 2023 presidential election will go a long way to make or to mar Nigeria. If the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) decides to allow the election to be free and fair, it will be a political tsunami that will flush out all the evil gangs that have held us in political bondage. If INEC connives with the political buccaneers and bows to their pressure to alter results and concede victory to the wrong person, there is likely going to be a revolution, a violent one. Whatever the case, every Christian, every peace-loving Nigeria, and every Nigeria who believes in justice, equity and fairness has a moral obligation to vote for Mr. Peter Obi as our next President. A vote for Mr. Peter Obi and Dr. Ahmed Datti is a vote for patriotism, unity, peace and progress. It is a vote for a New Nigeria we have been clamouring for. May God Help Us!