Sequel to the recent declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari to seek a second term, a prominent Christian leader, Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, has accused the core north of never supporting the the idea of a christian presidential candidate.
He challenged Christians from the middlebelt and core north to come out and declare their interest for the nation’s number one seat.
“One critical issue on my mind remains this; where are Christian Presidential candidates from the Middle-belt and the core North?.
“Let them also come out and declare. Let them stand and be counted.
“Enough of reactionary-cry baby cry-borrowing and modifying a book and title: Run Baby Run which tells the conversion story of Nicky Cruz from a notorious New York Bronx Gang Star to faith in Christ.’
“I will love to see Christian presidential candidates coming out from Northern Nigeria.
“Why is it that anytime there is talk of the North producing a president it is only Muslim candidates we hear about? Where are the christians?
“Personally, I have never understood why the core North has never supported the idea of a Christian presidential candidate to come from either the Middle-belt or the core north – Why?
The whole world needs to know this.
“Enough of living in denial within the context of the so-called political one-north. This may sound politically crazy but that is the stuff of statesmen.
“What do you think would have happened if President Buhari were to name a Christian from the Middle-belt or the core North to complete his second term?
“Religious politics will probably be shown the way out through the front door, not just the backdoor or the window. Can you imagine what such a move will usher in?
“However, it is important to note that it is within the President’s constitutional right to seek re-election. And it is left to his party, the APC to make the final decision of who their Presidential flag bearer should be come 2019.
“The many reactions either for or against from Nigerians is understandable. Due to his age and earlier health challenges, I would have thought the President will consider suggesting a younger person from within his party. But he has made his decision and we need to respect it as such.
“In politics, declaration of intention is not the same as declaration of victory.
“It is also important to be fair to Mr President, he followed up his declaration with a statement from London, where he is currently visiting, that he declared in order to end all speculations and so the question of whether or not he is running should now be put to rest.”
He said further that the President should be commended, as it was wise and saves the citizens time and energy from speculative conspiratorial distractions.
“To those who support this declaration, I will advise that they do not engage in acts which suggest that those who feel otherwise should be persecuted politically.
“And to those who are opposed to Buhari’s declaration to seek second term, I will counsel them to go back to their drawing boards and do the needful and stop sounding as though Nigeria should come to a standstill.
“Why? This nation is bigger than one person. Granted that Buhari is our President, he is still a Nigerian and as such; Nigeria is bigger than him.
“The point I am emphasizing is simple; the best judges in any democracy are the people. That majestic voice, the voice of the people will always be the deciding factor. The people had spoken before, remember. We will need to wait until 2019, God’s willing, for the people to speak through their votes”, he advised.
“Until then, life goes on. Let’s keep moving with a determination to promote peace and not violence and destruction. Make Nigeria the factor and the focus of our politics and not Buhari.
“I also like what former President Goodluck Jonathan said and for which he is celebrated all over Africa today – which is: My political ambition is not worth the shedding of blood of any Nigerian.
“Nigerians are waiting for when the current President, Mohammadu Buhari and indeed other politicians, to similarly declare. The people should come first and political ambitions last. No Nigerian politician living today is worth dying for in this country. I repeat, none!
“Hunger and unemployment do not recognize political fanaticism. I hope Nigerians will be street wise in 2019,”, he further advised.
On General TY Danjuma’s comment and reactions of Nigerians which led the Nigerian Army to set up a panel of inquiry on April 9, 2018, on the alleged personnel’s collusion with bandits, the Clergyman said, “This is an encouragement and the Army top command is to be commended for this positive step.
“However, investigation panels in Nigeria have a history of monies spent on sittings, reports produced, some doctored, some not and finally such reports are submitted and in the end we hear nothing and practically nothing changes.
“This is my fear, but I hope this won’t be the case. Will this panel produce an honest objective report? We will wait to see and I certainly pray that the Major General John Nimiyel (rtd) Panel does justice to the issues raised by TY Danjuma and several other voices in Nigeria on this troubling matter.
“In my view, I suggest that voices of the people need to be heard. This Panel needs to find ways to hear directly from those on ground at the grassroots. Those on the margins of society, the voiceless. They need to be heard. This means the Panel needs to be creative in getting such un-doctored feedback.
“My experience in dealing with such issues in Plateau State, Southern Kaduna and Adamawa State, in the cause of working for peace, suggests that those on the ground have a lot to say, in educating all of us about this issue of collusion or otherwise”, he explained.
“I wish to advise that the findings of the panel should not be restricted only to Taraba and Benue but also to: Southern Kaduna, Birnin Gwari, Plateau, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Edo, Ekiti and other States in the Southern part of Nigeria who have been exposed to such attacks”, he advised.
“It’s not clear if their mandate covers such areas as well, but it should and I hope people from these areas will prepare and submit factual memorandas of what their own experiences have been regard their encounters with the military.
“It is my prayer that this Panel will be objective in carrying out her assignment. I pray it won’t be manipulated in any way to become used a fault-finder. It should also not be a means of seeking justification for the Army”, he warned.
“In the end, I hope it becomes a document which will serve as a learning curve for the Army and for all of us. Nigerians need to know the truth.
“Will the Army release an unbiased and non-doctored final report? We will wait to see. I am praying that the best will come out of this exercise judging from the comments of the Chief of Army Staff. Lt. General Tukur-Yusuf Buratai”, he stressed.
Speaking on the establishment of a Special Court Martial by the Army, on April 10th, 2018, to deal with partisan personnel, he said, ”How I wish they were this decisive regarding the ongoing killings of our citizens. Securing the safety of the Nigerians and addressing the 2019 election which should come first as key priority? He asked.
“I respect our Military, but I am not able to reconcile myself to such seeming double standards. The Army is there to defend Nigeria and protect Nigerians and this should be above the well-being of politicians or the political class.
“I am in no away suggesting that the Army should entertain partisanship within the military, not at all. What I personally would love to see, is a situation in which the Army is standing up to bring an end to the continuous killing of innocent citizens of this nation. This unfortunate development painfully has gone on for too long”, he lamented.
“How long is long enough before the Army will rise to make the Herders – Farmers killings history? I mean literally end it? He further asked.
“I had asked and will continue to ask, how come such killings do not happen at least in magnitude of what we see in Nigeria, compared to other West African counties?
“Ghana acted decisively to nip such in the bud. A combination of the political will from their Political leaders, their Military, and traditional authorities: the ethnic nationalities and the Fulanis; in Ghana saw to it – that it must be stopped. Is this the case with Nigeria?
“Sometimes we come acros tough talking but do-nothing country when it comes to criminality. Sometimes I just feel that our show of force is targeted more at innocent people than the criminals and in this case the killers,” he further lamented.
“Our president just admitted in the UK during the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Wilby, that the, ‘killer Herdsmen were trained by the late Muammar Ghaddafi and they made their way with their sophisticated weapons from Libya, to cause such havoc in Nigeria.
“I am personally lost of words. Foreigners, finding their way into the heartland of Nigeria – the Middle-belt – to kill Nigerians. It’s inconceivable, it’s unacceptable. I am not able to understand this.
“At one point, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai said these Fulani attackers came from within West Africa on revenge killings to Southern Kaduna. It is this today and that tomorrow. It all does not add up.
“Who are the Herdsmen killing Nigerians in Birnin Gwari and Zamfara State?
“Something is fishy. Something is being hidden from Nigerians. I hope the truth will come out one day. I should be able to trust my President and my Governor but right now I am confused.
“Be that as it may, is Nigeria the only country where such intruding killer marauders migrated to from Libya? What is the Nigerian Army here for?
“In his heydays as a GOC of the 3rd Armored Division in Rukuba Jos, I read of how then Major-General Mohammadu Buhari in 1982 or ‘83, swung into action to checkmate the incursion of foreign forces into Nigeria’s territory.
“He literally chased them away from Nigeria thereby preserving our nations territorial integrity. Why is the case of those, going by what the President said, who were trained by Ghaddaffi be different?
“The contradictions are too many. Frankly this further justifies what rtd Gen. T Y Danjuma alluded to in his University Convocation speech on March 24th, 2018 – when he called on Nigerians to defend yourselves, country, among others.
“I really believe the Nigerian Army should be decisive in all cases and not selective. I hope military officers will not be unduly victimized because of this Special Court Martial.
“The case of non-partisanship for all our military officers should be for all without exceptions”, he stressed.