By Nathaniel C. Adoji
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5: 1-4
The book of Peter made it very clear that Christian elders are expected to lead the flock according to the will of God and not for sordid gain. But the National Christian Elders Forum has clearly done everything against the word of God which is supposed to guide every Christian.
A few days back the Christian Elders released a 16-page document in which it claimed that Nigeria is gradually being Islamised by the present government. But the elders did not stop at that, they also called for a platform that will consciously see Christians participate in politics as if they do not have Christians already in government.
These Christian elders wrote 16 pages on Islamisation, Jihad and other tribulations Christians are facing and did not even include one verse from the Bible. What comes to mind is what kind of Christians parade themselves as elders without the “Two Edged Sword”? What kind of elders attempt to preach to a younger generation without using the scriptures?
The elders used about 11 pages dwelling on the religious problems of Nigeria, the history of Islam and the agenda of Islamist sect, Boko Haram “To eradicate in all its forms and ramifications all non-Muslim religions especially Christianity.
With no disrespect to the elders and all any other religion, Nigeria’s Pentecostal movement have been the most exported commodity in this country if you look at the reach and widespread acceptance it has across the globe. Many might think crude oil, but not all countries deal crude oil with Nigeria.
Christian ministers from Nigeria have been to almost all the countries in the world spreading the good news and winning souls according to the Holy Bible, how then could all Christians be wiped out from this great nation.
Without considering the influx of foreigners, the tourism potentials and the revenue generated by Nigeria and Nigerians from Christians who visit our country, the Christian elders claimed that radical Islamist have been working to wipe out Christians.
As if that is not enough, these Christian elders claimed that no Muslim leader/organization has been able to refute claims of ‘Who Controls Security in Nigeria’. They went on to state that Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police, Air Force, Immigration, Minister of Interior, Minister of Defense, Controller of Prisons, EFCC Head, DG of NIA amongst others were Northern Muslims.
This question by the National Christian Elders Forum showed another high level of ignorance from people who are expected to be wise, if not very wise. For any discerning mind, who knows how these institutions work, appointments are made on the ranking system. President Muhammadu Buhari cannot sack or dismiss all the generals in the army because he wants to appoint a Fulani Muslim who is Colonel to be head of the army.
These are high ranking officers who have risen to these levels way before Buhari thought he would be President in 2015. Many of these men have served in different capacities before getting to this position, they were not picked out of the blues.
To further prove that the elders Christian participation is a scam, the elders turned a blind eye to the fact that Christians are serving in this government. They forgot that General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff is a Christian. They also forgot that Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, the 22nd Chief of Naval Staff of the Nigerian Navy is a Christian. That the Corp Marshal of FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi is a Christian.
But there are others who are not just Christians but even pastors serving in the Buhari administration, most notably Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. This is a man who has encouraged Christian participation in politics while respecting the religion and view of others.
Osinbajo has proven that there is God in heaven for those who want reasons. He is a workaholic, who is humble, credible and selfless. He has shown that serving Nigeria is not just a personal goal but a calling. He even offered to resign at a short notice if need be. I think he is the example the Christian elders need.
They need to model themselves after him. They need some humility as well as leading from God instead of pushing for sordid gains.
Away from Osinbajo, there is Boss Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. He is not only a Christian by mouth but also by action. He is a pastor and a respectable one at that. He recently was reelected as one of the National Vice Presidents of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International. Does that ring a bell?
And there are others. The astute Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah; the result-oriented Babatunde Fowler who is the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service; the honest and reserved Ben Akabueze who is Director General of the Budget Office of
the Federation and award-winning journalist and spokesperson for VP Osinbajo, Laolu Akande to mention a few.
If there’s one thing the Bible teaches us, it is love. As Christian elders, one would have expected that having seen it all, they will preach love over hate; tolerance over aggression; wisdom over foolishness but now we know better.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 says “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
Its time Christian elders go to the drawing board. All these gimmicks aimed at generating vague popularity will not work. As Christians, we should know that power belongs to God, as in all power belongs to God.
That Christian elders will claim that Christianity is vulnerable and weak in Nigerian is not completely true. That elders will connive to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians by whipping up religious sentiments is unfortunate. It’s time for Nigerians to wake up and rubbish this age-long method of deceit.
This religious and ethnic scamming must end. The claims that the Sharia law could be implemented across Nigeria is impossible since Nigeria is almost divided among Christians and Muslims.
On 16 April 2018, VP Osinbajo said Christians serving in Buhari’s administration are some of the best adherents of the faith but they still need the prayers of Nigerians to succeed.
That should be the position of the Christian elders as well. No one has stopped Christians from contesting elections in any part of this country but to come out with a Christian participation agenda is insensitive, grossly insensitive.
Are the elders pushing that everyone in government be Christians? Are they saying that the appointment of Christians like Kemi Adeosun, Chris Ngige, Ogbonnaya Onu as ministers is not enough balance?
Are they saying the two Christian Presidents in Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan also pursued the Islamist and Sharia agenda? I think it’s time for Nigerians to see beyond these self-serving elders and learn the truth.
I rest my case.