Lecture presented by Rt. Rev. Prof. Dapo F. Asaju (Bishop Theologian), at the Lagos Diocese Pre-Synod Lecture Series, held at All Souls Church, Lekki, Lagos on May 1 2021.
I congratulate the Lord Bishop of the Mother Diocese of Lagos, Rt. Rev. Dr. Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye for the Synod of this year and for organizing this conference in order to add the voice of the Church to concerns about the security and welfare of our dear country, Nigeria.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote:
“When evil men plot, good men must plan,
When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind,
When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.
Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice”
THE RELEVANCE OF CHRISTIANITY TO GOVERNANCE, PEACE AND SECURE SOCIETY.
1. God is the creator of man and the world (Jesus is creative Agent- The Word of God – John 1:1-5, Colosians1:15-18. Therefore He has control over world affairs. He judges the world when they sin (Noah’s Flood) and He sends prophets like Amos to challenge evil rulers and leaders. He reigns in the affairs of men. He actually ran a Theocracy in Israel before the monarchy was introduced.
2. Man is a complex Being, made up of the Body, Soul and Spirit. It is Christianity that can influence his behavior and psychology (The Heart of Kings are in the hands of the Lord… He turns it wherever He wants- Proverbs 21:1).
3. The Bible is a manual for successful human governance, nationhood, peace and security.
– The government of the Universe is upon the shoulder of Jesus Christ and of the increase of His government there shall be no end ( Isaiah 9:6).
– His name is Prince of Peace. His influence has brought peace and civility to kingdoms and countries of the world.
– Only regenerated man can bring about good governance and peaceful reign. Man is intrinsically evil and wicked. God once regretted that He made man. God gives new heart and spirit which can enable them have compassion on the welfare of the people and receive revelation to govern aright. Otherwise, typical man is selfish, evil and corrupt.
4. There is a raging battle between the kingdoms of God and Satan (Ephesians 6:2).
Demonic influence over rulers and governments is well known. Many political leaders have involved themselves in pagan rituals including ritual killings and bloodshed of all sorts and are under the influence of Satan, Principalities and Powers…. The Church is the only establishment by God empowered to overcome evil forces and their manipulation of the society. Elisha healed a cursed land of Jericho (2 Kings 2: 18-22). In Daniel’s time, the Prince of Persia withstood the Angel sent from heaven to bring an answer to his prayer requests. (Daniel 10:13) What we see in
Events in different parts of the world, especially Nigeria manifests this ongoing battle in the end time.
Christianity is today under co-ordinated attacks from various opponents: Communist Atheism, Secularism in the West, Paganism in African communities and Islam.
5. The governance structure of Executive, Legislative and Judiciary is Bible derived (Isaiah 33:22 – “For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King. It is He who will save us”).
6. Similar trends of religious expansionism, terrorism and systemic domination in Nigeria are old strategies employed by Jihadists to take over North Africa and Asia in UK, USA, Asia and Middle East.
NIGERIA’S CURRENT SECURITY PROBLEMS
1. Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist Jihad in serial order such as Maitatsine, Boko Haram, etc.
2. Attempts at Internal re-colonization, domination and Islamization.
All activities and policies of Government point to these:
Dominance in: Government strategic ministries, Parastatals, Military, Police, Paramilitary, Finance, Education, Foreign Policy, Internal Affairs, Judiciary, Legislature, etc.
3. Fulani herdsmen deployed in every forest in nooks and crannies of Middle Belt, South-West and South-East.
4. Migration of multitudes of Northern youths, Almajiris, handicapped who settle in isolated settlements, fully armed, serving as Guards, Motor cycle transport riders, etc. These pose danger to peaceful settlements as most of these people have access to external remote control through their transistor radios, their mosques and the modern communication gadgets. The south can be overwhelmed if care is not taken by host communities to recover their sovereignty and defend their lands.
5. Spate of kidnappings, abductions, murder of innocent people, including students, ethnic cleansing of Christian communities in the north.
6. Outright failure of government due to incapacitation of the military to check Boko Haram and Isis, who are sacking communities, taking territories, taking over wives of communities, moving towards caliphate imposition.
7. Quranic challenges to Bible and violence instructions in the Quran: There is a need to appeal to fanatical Muslims to re-interpret these violent instructions as inapplicable to religiously plural societies of the modern day; rather they should emphasize the peace content which Islam means.
8. The Apparent silence and compromise by Southern Muslims to speak out against this evil,
9. Threats of secession and beating drums of war fare and restructuring, etc
10. Failure of Government at all levels, hyper inflation, arms proliferation among criminals, heavy debt burden, rudderless governments and complicity of government in the Islamisation agenda.
11. Politicization of Religion in Nigeria has been ongoing for many years in sectors of constitution, education, judiciary, public service, etc.
12. Tactical error of northern domination: Feudal elite exploit their people, Neglect of educating the people, using religion as political weapon and arming the Islamic uprisings such as Miatatsine, Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen, etc.
The Role of the Church in ensuring Safe and Secure Nigeria
1. Jesus Christ and Earlier prophets intervened in the affairs of the State: Joseph (economic policy to save from famine), Moses (liberation- Let my people Go), Elijah (challenged idolatry and autocracy of Ahab and Jezebel), Jeremiah and Ezekiel criticized false shepherds exploiting the sheep, Esther reversed decree to annihilate Jews (deliverance through positioning in strategic location [ WATCHMAN AND STANDING AGAINST EVIL]
2. The Early Church persecution and Constantine’s liberation and church -state relations. [CONVERSION AND EVANGELISM]
3. The Martin Luther’s and John Calvin’s Reformation of the Church opened up the world to freedom, education, enlightenment, democracy etc.
4. The Church led the fight for abolition of slave Trade through the parliamentary efforts of William Wilberforce.
5. The Church in Nigeria, like other parts of Africa participated in the vigorous fight against colonialism and for independence of African nations, through Ethiopianism. Names like Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Bishop James Johnson, Herbert Macaulay etc.
6. The Civil Rights Movement in USA was led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a fulltime Baptist Minister. The church leaders can lead a peaceful revolution in Nigeria and other African countries towards peace, justice, equality and fundamental human rights of all citizens without oppression by one religion or tribe, of others.
7. Islamic Agenda and assaults against Christianity and the Church. [ NEED FOR CHRISTIAN AGENDA AND STRATEGIES TO STOP ISLAMIZATION and TERRORISM]
8. Loss of North Africa and Asia Minor to Brute force of Islamic Jihad, legislative sharia control. The Church was weakened by disunity, theological controversies and internal strife; thus the easy prey to Islamic invasion. [CHURCH TO AVOID DENOMINATIONAL DIVISIONS, FORGE UNITY AND MOBILISE MEMBERS TO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN POLITICAL GOVERNENCE AND ELECTIONEERING]
9. The fundamental error of the Amalgamation. British positioning Northern dominance. Lugard covenant with North and official policy to resist Christian evangelism and missionaries in the North. [RESILIENCE OF THE CHURCH THROUGH ACTIVE PROTECTION OF THE VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES, CONGREGATIONS AND USE OF ALL PEACEFUL LEGAL MEANS TO MOBILIZE AND RESIST EVIL POLICIES].
10. International moves should be pursued to redress the fundamental amalgamation of the country and the much talked about restructuring should be vigorously pursued by non-violent means, after the patter of the USA Civil Rights Movement and Mahatmas Gandhi’s non-violent resistance.
11. The Church must deliberately design means of training and raising credible leaders who are disciplined and God fearing and knowledgeable enough to provide leadership at all levels and in all sectors of Nigeria. We are leaderless at the moment. The Church is the Light of the World and Salt of the Earth. Bad leadership endures because of absence of the good.
12. The Church must exit its indifference and lackadaisical attitude towards elections. They must register and vote, campaign and monitor elections to prevent rigging and god-fatherism. The church has for now sufficient population to effect positive change in governments at all levels. Note the populations of Roman Catholics, Anglicans (about 18 million), Pentecostals, Aladura, etc. With proper political education, necessity of current insecurity and failed governance should compel all good Nigerians of all religions (Christians, especially to ensure that the next elections in 2023 does not go to those who are bent on bringing this country down to the grave.
13. The Nigerian churches are too proliferated and materialistic. Some Pentecostal leaders live in too much opulence, being mentioned among the richest pastors in the world, preaching a wrong theology of prosperity theology at this time of national emergency! Of course they afford to own private aero planes and build many mansions and institutions in the names of their families, whilst there is abject poverty, killings, violence, joblessness, youth restiveness and refugees all over the societies.
The church must first cure itself of internal errors before it can challenge similar exploitations in the larger society.
14. There is need for mass reorientation of the citizenry and reeducating the present and coming generations about patriotism, nationhood, nation building, civics, etc., new curriculum to be redesigned for primary and secondary schools, to compulsorily include prayer and Christian religious education. Education is knowledge and
15. Prayer is effective but it must be complimented by action. Faith without works is dead. The Church must organize, protest, speak truth to power, instruct her members in government to be accountable to God through the church to do that which is just and right, and not to indulge in corruption or evil Through prayer and divine intervention, God has the power to humble preliminate all pharaohs and Nebuchadnezzars. And there will be peace in the land.
16. Where it is difficult for government security agencies to defend vulnerable citizens of Nigeria (Including Christians) in the face of rampaging killers, then the Church must organize security for their congregations and communities in all ways legal. They are entitled to defend themselves and their lives as well as that of their family and church members. The church can consult its members who are knowledgeable in intelligence gathering, defense strategies etc., to guide and educate them in case of emergencies. This is the stage we are at in Nigeria already where government fails to provide most of its constitutional obligations, forcing citizens to provide same for themselves. It will help if all prominent Christians in public and private sectors speak out to save Nigeria. Church Leaders should be bold to speak out against the insecurity that is going on in Nigeria. If they fail to be watchmen as commanded by God in Ezekiel, the blood of many people will be accounted for by them. Let us bring to remember the genocide in Rwanda and killings in Sudan, Somalia, etc. We cannot afford any civil war again in Nigeria. This is the time for everyone to shout- Enough is Enough!
When the current storm passes, we will need to reengineer and re-orientate our police and Armed Forces in a manner that will make them genuinely patriotic and committed to the security of one Nigeria. May God have mercy on us.
“If my People, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).