By: Okanga Agila
Suddenly, an assemblage of old and haggard politicians, by the nomenclature of Northern Nigeria Christian Politicians Forum (NNCPF) has invaded Nigeria’s polity and from the wrong angle. Supposedly comprising veteran politicians, the forum has not only proven its potency in unbeatable loquaciousness, but its damaging flippancy is pregnable with trappings of disrupting the coherence currently enjoyed in the North and even the Southern part of the country.
In the last three weeks they have assailed Nigeria’s President Muhammedu Buhari (PMB) with demands for more appointments into his cabinet. In so doing, the forum also assaulted the sensibilities of other segments of Nigeria in their apparent greed and selfish push for recognition.
Expectedly, the forum lampooned former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) and Goodluck Jonathan, (both of them Christians), for failing political Christians of the North, by depriving them of appointments, while they wielded power in Aso Rock. And seemingly standing logic on its head, the group argued that it was reason for refusal of Northern Christian politicians to back Jonathan’s re-election bid in 2015, in preference for the Northern Muslim, PMB.
And pouring accolades that do not impress the person of PMB, the forum claimed that for the first time in Nigeria’s history, the President has broken the jinx, by recognizing Northern Christian politicians with massive appointments. Yet, they were asking for more patronage in appointments?
And then, Nigerians watched with dismay the forum’s toeing of the familiar tendencies of hungry and greedy politicians, with eclipsing shadows, whose actions, denote nothing more than craving for personal recognition. So, they hurriedly packaged and doled out meaningless awards to government functionaries at a special reception in Abuja. The recipients were President Buhari, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and SGF, Babachir David Lawal. It should not surprise anybody to see more of such awards doled out by the group to a litany of personalities in the nearest future.
Disappointingly though, a scrutiny of this obviously odious assemblage of the so-called Christian politicians from the North, reveal curious angles. Unexpected and venerable names such as that of the former Head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), Sen. Dr. Jonathan Zwingina and the likes, are being bandied as members. It is difficult to believe Gen. Yakuku Gowon would gamble away his personality and reputation to identify with an aimless group of favour seekers whose plan is ultimately to instigate heat on the Buhari Presidency and cause disaffection in the polity.
Every day, there comes a fresh tale in the experiences of Nigeria to invoke empathy and lamentations for the fate of this otherwise great country. Christianity in Nigeria is heavily afflicted and time is ripe for good intentioned people to beseech God Almighty to rescue the Body of Christ in Nigeria.
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, is so helplessly polarized based on leadership crises. From its national body/secretariat, to regions and states, CAN is politicized and it boasts of more factions than some political parties can flaunt. And the split is mainly pushed by the scramble for leadership, as against evangelism.
Today, the Northern part of Nigeria has its own version of CAN, rechristened, Northern Nigeria Christian Association (NNCA), reminiscent of pre-independence Nigeria, as fallout of the last CAN national elections. These are the multiple problems plaguing Christianity in Northern Nigeria. And a committed Christendom would be exploring ways to resolve these issues, as against creating more splinter groups in the guise of religion, such as the NNCPF.
To start, NNCPF has marketed itself as “bad sons of a good father.” They failed brazenly to read and decode the contour of PMB’s government and they have failed to appreciate Nigeria’s economic realities of today, weighing heavily on running of government. And they are blind to the reality of the diversity and sensibilities of the Nigerian state.
The faintest of knowledge about these realities would have informed them that they knocked, where the door cannot be opened. Any politician in Nigeria knows the desire of PMB to keep a modest structure of governance, with a modest cabinet so as to save funds to channel into developing other sectors of the economy.
Northern political Christians are not complaining of neglect in appointments; but they are unrealistically pushing PMB to further enlarge his cabinet on account of pleasing them because Northern Christians have never had it so good. A positive response to this plea implies a drain on lean finances of Nigeria and the depravity of patronage to other needy areas.
Nonetheless, what is in appointment, if the forum’s target is not to decorate themselves with underserved national jobs? Some of their members belong to the category of faded politicians, who have no clout or relevance of any kind even in their communities of birth. At best, they are living portraits of Nigeria’s wasted past, but have suddenly found solace in a body with religious shield to press for their resurrection from political graves.
Any populist agenda of the forum would have seen them requesting from PMB, development projects for the Christian communities of the North, which they alleged, have been maltreated by the Muslim majority in the region. It would have posted a more plausible consideration.
In addition, they underrated the feelings of Southern Christians with such reckless outbursts and outrageous demands for more appointments for regional Christians of the North. If truly they are Christians and know what it means, the House of God does not discriminate. How would Southern Christians feel to know the President backs the notion that northern Christians deserve more national appointments? A feeling of neglect because of their region of birth? It is inexplicable.
This agenda has not only fired voices of protests from the South, but it is portraying the administration of Buhari as a regionalist, a tag the President has vigorously campaigned against by his famous declaration that “ I belong to nobody, but I belong to everybody.” It is a campaign missile these political desperadoes have planted on PMB’s path.
Similarly, would the Northern Muslims or their southern counterparts now feel alienated and angry with Buhari’s excessive courting of northern political Christians, at the expense of other patently ravenous blocs, thus raising a platform for them to crucify the President?. It was the most senseless assertion, to have emanated from people who are supposedly leaders.
NNCPF’s chairman, Hon. Keftin Amuga and his clique’s mistaken assumption of achieving this evil machination by deriding former President’s OBJ and Jonathan is not only uncharitable, but hypocritical, suggesting the emptiness of the group.
Amuga’s submissions that for the first time, a Northern Muslim President has recognized the Northern Christian as “a political factor and political force”, is sycophantic praise singing, directed at the wrong leader, PMB. Even if they tell the truth, it would not reduce their esteem before the President. But such generous assertions, without statistics or verifiable data, is the forum’s pandering to sycophant instincts, in the vain hope of placating Buhari and at the same time, bashing his constituency.
NNCPF should have a rethink. Indeed, pounding the sermons of divisions in the North is inappropriate at this time; to say the least, unexpected and unfortunate, much more, spicing it with religious (Muslim) bigotry. It explains the hidden motive of this group, which is to cause disaffection among Northerners and elsewhere; to make themselves popular, as the unconscionable lackeys at the disposal of desperate politicians anytime, to unleash attacks on perceived enemies and PMB himself could become their victim’.
But let this brand of Christian politicians from the North be reminded that PMB emerged President of Nigeria in 2015 based on popular votes and the conviction of Nigerians regardless of religion, ethnicity, regional or political party affiliation. Millions believed in his capacity to salvage Nigeria and nothing more. This is exactly what he is doing.
Jonathan failed the re-election bid because he was overwhelmed with Nigeria’s leadership and his poor leadership of the country could not be excused by millions of Nigerians. So, the argument insinuating otherwise is fetish and condemnable, after all, NNCPF flaunts membership drawn from different party affiliations. They should therefore desist from playing the religious card with serious and sensitive national issues in the quest of seeking recognition and odious favours.
Okanga contributed this piece from Benue State