On August 5, 2012 VANGUARD Interview
REVEREND Oladimeji (Ladi) Thompson is the founder/Senior Pastor of Lagos-based Living Waters Unlimited Church, and the international Co-ordinator of Macedonian Initiative, a non-government, non-denominational organization established to provide succour to Christians persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ. Lately, the security consultant has assumed the office of a Special Adviser to the National President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, on Anti-terrorism and Security Matters. In this interview with SAM EYOBOKA, Rev. Thompson outlines the serious security challenges currently threatening the corporate existence of the nation and how best the Jonathan Administration can tackle same. Excerpts… Where is Nigeria now security wise? We are at a point in Nigeria where if we need-ed wisdom before, we need double now. From the colonial times till today, the city of Kaduna has been the heartbeat of northern Nigeria and the spiritual barometer of our national development. From colonial era till today, Kaduna dictated the pace of the country. People who cannot read the progression of terror will not know how alarming what happened in Kaduna recently is. They asked Albert Eistein that if you have a big problem and you have one hour to solve it, what would you do? And his response was that he would spend 50 to 55 minutes understanding the problem and then spend five minutes fixing it. Nigeria wants to spend 55 minutes fixing the problem after thinking for five minutes. It is clear that this Federal Government does not have the people who have the good capture of what the problem really is in Nigeria and because of that it is making matters worse every-time. For many years church elders have been able to restrain Christian youths from retaliating; each time they see their homes wasted, their relatives killed. Youth connotes energy; restiveness, aggression. It is a miracle that CAN, for so many years, have been able to calm its youths. When injustice continues on a perpetual basis, it becomes difficult when the justice system fails to deliver justice, when the life of every citizen cannot be assured, when your freedom of choice of religion cannot be protected anymore within a country, it becomes almost imperative that the youths will get to a breaking point where elders can no longer control them. And once that development starts and it is not checked, we can kiss Nigeria goodbye because the reprisal to the bombing of churches, if it spreads from Kaduna to other states, nobody will win. We will all be losers. And if Nigeria is destroyed, the hope of Africa is destroyed. What is your solution to the challenge? Two important things that we need is that the Christian quality of Nigeria must be reorganized to be able to put pressure on the Federal Government so that when it wants to make appointments that affect it, when it wants to do anything that will affect the future of this nation, there need to be consultation between the president and the leadership of 90 million plus Christians. Why will the president of a country not think it necessary to consult with the spiritual head of about 100 million Christians? Number one; Christian youths need to be taught something very clear that even though they have energy, they need wisdom. They must understand that in Christianity, death is not a punctuation mark that ends a sentence. It is more of a coma that signifies a pause before you launch into eternal life. When the energy of youths is now expanded in a direction of reprisals that include the killing of people, the youth must be made to know that when emotions finally cool down, whatever they have done has consequences. Number two: There is a directive from Heaven on how a Christian is to conduct his life in the midst of non-Christians. Ordinarily we shouldn’t be talking about death to youths, but the ineptitude and the inability of political leadership to cap what is going on in Nigeria is accelerating the rate at which Nigeria is approaching its melt-down. If Christian youths are properly taught, since we know that for us as Christians, to die is gain and to live is Christ, we find that nobody living can use death to threaten us. So when I hear that some Boko Haram are threatening Christians, you don’t threaten Christians with death, we are not afraid of death. There are weapons we use to overcome; one of them is that we don’t fear our lives unto death. We already have assurance of eternal life. It’s a shame on any church elder to hide behind the youths. The problem of Nigeria right now is not a problem for youths to solve. For us, death is just a pause that launches us into eternal life but to Boko Haram life is an endless pain with a painful end. They are misguided. That does not mean that there will be no occasion for Christian youths to arise to the defence of the values of human worth in Nigeria; but in order to do that, there are procedures that Church leadership must follow. Let it be made known that the concept of war is a reality in Christianity, because the Bible tells us that there’s a time for peace and a time for war. So let nobody think that Christian thinking precludes the concept of war. The elders must separa-te persecution and war. What is happening in northern Nigeria right now is war. What is happening in some parts of southern Nigeria now is persecution. In the event of war, the-re’s a process by which Church elders, instead of hiding behind youths, must come out and prove that the political structure has failed and is incapable of protecting lives of non-Muslims and protecting our fundamental rights to choose our religion. Rev. Ladi Thompson If the Church leadership has a proper understanding of the spiritual aspect, the moment a declaration of war is made, the mobilization of youths becomes legal, because Romans 13 tells us that government is placed by God and the Bible says they should not carry the sword in vain. How do we know if they’ve carried the sword in vain? The same government that paid N100 million to the family of a man who butchered Christians in thousands, is the one has not been able to get a single conviction even when the crimes against Chritians are in millions. We had a meeting with Gombe State governor, Danjuma Goje. Under his watch, as chief security officer of Gombe, a woman called Christiana Oluwasesan was butchered to death by students in her school, Government State Secondary School. Lawyers wrote the governor, the state commissioner of police and every time the court attempts to seat on the issue, the governor would claim that the security situation was not conducive. We were forced to file the case in Yola, but we were referred back to Gombe. You see the hide-and-seek game. When we eventually began to talk, the governor said he would pay a discretionary sum to the family to just say sorry. And I said, wait a minute, somebody’s daughter was killed, they attempted to kill her child and you are talking about discretionary sum. As a consultant, I want to know what you mean by discretionary sum. Some of his commissioners now said; maybe N4 million or N5 million. I objected! A punitive sum nothing less than N150 million must be paid to the Oluwase-san family from the Gombe State coffers. When that is done, the government will ensure that people’s lives must not be wasted on the basis of religious crimes. The CAN president, in his last warning to the Nigerian president, said the youths are getting tired, elders are trying their best to restrain them, but when justice is denied, frustration will find an outlet and at that point, nobody should hold the elders responsible because elders tried their best to restrain the youths. What should we be looking at? The government has appoin-ted a new national security adviser. Was CAN consulted? They appointed an Inspector General of Police that was indicted in the persecution of non-Muslims in the country. The new NSA, who is he? Where’s he from? What Nigeria needs right now is a consensus builder; somebody who, irrespective of whether you are Christian or Muslim, understands equity justly and fearfully. In other countries of the world where this problem showed up, thinking, intelligent and courageous leaders recognized that this was not just an attack against one religion or the other; it is an attack against the sovereignty of the nation. Is Nigeria at war? In reality, Jonathan is a war time president. There’s war going on. What has happened in Jonathan’s case is that he has refused to acknowledge that there’s war in Nigeria. In the incident of 9-11, you can situate Nigeria into USA 55 times over. Four incidents in four different American locations; there have been Islamic attacks in 300 places in Nigeria. When American wise men sat down, checked what was going on, they declared that a new type of war was being waged against the sovereignty of the nation. So, the reason why things are going from bad to worse is because we need a president with a heart of a lion and with the ability of an army general to preside in war times. Secondly, nobody has urged the president to wage war on an external enemy; he is being asked to recognize war just as Britain, US Spain India and many nations of the world recognized that there is a new type of war. For every single day that Nigeria refuses to acknowledge that this is a nation at war, we are moving closer and closer to a shameful end of a nation that was designed by God to be the pride of Africa. Is the government inept? In the area of security, this government has proved itself not only inept, but it appears as if they want to create a new record. The measure of civilization in any nation is derived from the value of human worth. As you look around you in every aspect of Nigeria, what is the value of one Nigerian life? The life of one Briton is equivalent to that of 250 Nigerians and the life of one American is equivalent to the lives of 160 Nigerians. Where security is not guaranteed, the government does not understand what it is playing with. Every country where the people lose faith in the criminal justice system and justice delivery was perceived to be poor, every one of those countries ended up in a break down of law and order to the point that medical doctors, judges, lawyers were queuing up for food in the aftermath of violence. President Goodluck Jonathan When it comes to the area of security, the government has done badly. In fairness, the government did not create the problem which has been there since the 1950s when we were practic-ing a constitution that was forced on us as a nation. The point is, through the years, Nigeria needed a consensus leader who will make things better, but somehow such has eluded us. So with every successful generation, the matter has gotten worse. But it apparently looks as if the harvest of ineptitude is now coming and this government is probably going to go down in history as one of the worst in Nigeria; not necessarily because they are actually the worst but because somehow, fate positioned them at the time the meltdown of Nigeria began to increase. Of all the things that devalue life in Nigeria, the worst of all is this war. And the painful part of this war is the fear of death which is more effective than death itself. The truth is that Plateau State has been damaged to a point where no sensible investor, local or foreign, will be man enough to go and start a business. What the government doesn’t realize is that this is one of the tools of this new kind of war. We must let people know that there’s a difference between Islamism and Islam. I said again and again that this government is an embarrassment because it has put a lot of unnecessary pressure upon Muslims. Not every Muslim is a terrorist. And when the government does not separate those who are Islamists from the Islamic faith, what the government has done is to put pressure unnecessarily on Muslims. Few months ago in Kano State, some Boko Haram leaders were arrested but nobody wanted to look at the facts that we must give credit to the person at the root of that problem. There was a Muslim, Mohammed Alli, who was approached by Boko Haram for the use of his Honda Accord for suicide bombing, but he refused. Based on his refusal, they killed the prominent Shi’ite leader and civil servant in his Kano home on May 11. That man is one of those who should be receiving national awards. As a Muslim, he said no, you can’t use my car for suicide bombing. He resisted evil to the point of death. He was killed. What this government demonstrated is that this man died in vain. Mohammed Alli gave his life for the unity of this country. I’ve not heard that government is compensating Mohammed Alli’s family or anybody giving him any national award. It is men like that who should be encouraged, but instead what has this government done? By refusing to acknowledge war which many nations have acknowledged; it is putting such men under pressure. We know many Muslims who would not want to kill anybody. They will not support all this nonsense. The country has no value for human life. If you ask me, that man should be decorated with a post-humus honour. This will make you understand clearly that the government is clueless. Who will not honour people like that, so that they can have the respect for the Muslim population. There are Islamic moles that have penetrated different areas of our national life and institutions. Some will work to prevent moves that can solve the problem. The president has acknowledged this publicly but after that, what did he tell us? He’s always making speeches. Everybody thought that a man who grew up in such poverty, will defend the fatherless, will help the poor; but what are we seeing now? It’s the contrary. Sudan, like Nigeria, refused to recognize that there was war. May I tell you that it was only when three million non-Muslims died in Sudan, that the problem was recognized. With the way this president is playing in the hands of Boko Haram, it’s not impossible that he may even support the election of a Boko Haram president after him and then Nigeria will go through the same scenario. God forbid!
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/08/jonathan-is-a-war-time-president-rev-ladi-thompson/