Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Power of Agreement

We have spoken about the sacrifices of the early church fathers of Nigeria and the foundations they laid. We have also looked at the Nigerian gift of hoping against hope and the inevitable winds of change that will bring in a tomorrow that is different from today.

Yet the winds of change do not always bring a better tomorrow unless the people of God make the needed sacrifices. One of the most important things that must be added to the mix is wisdom, because hope that is against wisdom will only bring frustration. We are not speaking about the wisdom of this world but the wisdom of God. The word of God says, “Two cannot walk together successfully except they agree.” On the scale of nations and countries that agreement is usually known as the constitution.

A constitution can be written or unwritten but it is a contract with and between the people and the expression of an organizing principle which plots the success or failure of a nation. In Nigeria, we have attempted for decades to make millions of people walk together without recognizing any national idea, without agreeing on a common direction or a universal plan for our common progress.

In a sense Nigeria has been quite unfortunate because we started out life as a baby fashioned out of colonial convenience. The British Empire was the midwife and Taubman Goldie was the irresponsible playboy father who sold the child (most of the present territory of Nigeria today) to the British Empire for the sum of £865,000:00 on the 1st of January 1900. Our fate seems to have been sealed when Frederick Lugard (a former hireling to Goldie who had been dismissed for the mass slaughter of natives in Uganda) was recalled by Chamberlain the British Prime minister to act as the surrogate father of Nigeria. Frederick Lugard was the arrogant, violent and uninspired mercenary that fate chose to execute the amalgamation designs created by Goldie.

It took the sheer genius of British political engineering to weld 2 completely divergent territories together into one unstable isotope in 1914. Lord Harcourt described it as a marriage of convenience between the relaxed Northern husband and a diligent Southern bride. The Northern region had been a drain on the pocket of the British Government while the South was a cash cow to be milked. The organizing idea was not liberty, or truth or justice or the rights of man or any idea more vaulting than harnessing of natural resources by a colonial power.

The British tried to put a human face to the gunshot wedding by introducing several constitutions, Cliffords (1922) Richards (1946), Macpherson (1951) and Lyttleton (1954) but the cracks could not be plastered. A national idea and consensus did not emerge from these manipulations.

It speaks volumes that the Northern region rejected the Anthony Enahoro’s 1956 motion for national independence and the Southern region had to exercise patience until 1960 before the dreams of freedom could be realized. Even then the nation started out on a shaky foundation of distrust, veiled contempt, strife, animosities and violent exchanges. It is said that arranged marriages have been known to work but it is doubtful that such unions would thrive where the mischievous arranger had taken out time to fan the flames of strife by enumerating the faults and weaknesses of the spouse to one party in secret. The extent of British chicanery will never be appreciated until the time-lock placed on certain colonial archives is forced open. Time they say heals all wounds but it looks like time has served to add insult to injury in the Nigerian case.

Looking back over 50 years of Nigerian history the constitution has always triggered widespread violence each time it is opened up for discussion and year after year gives testimony to the inspired words of the prophet Amos that “Two cannot walk together except they agree.” Every single Christian knows that every successful marriage union has a price. It takes dialogue, love, patience, kindness, sacrifice and understanding. Where dialogue is banned, love brutalized and kindness is exempted there is little hope for that union. Nigeria’s years under military dictatorship worsened the equation by brutalizing the psyche of the unstable nation with its tactics of ambush, domination, subterfuge, espionage, decimation, brutality and total subjugation. In the words of a social critic After almost half a century of independence, Nigeria, the most populous and potential superpower of Africa, has traveled in reverse gear! If Nigeria had been a motor vehicle it would have been scrapped and the scrap dealer would reject the metal because of its flaws. On every measure of performance for a state with its wealth of human and material resources. Nigeria has been a colossal failure – Nothing works as it ought. From housing, health, education, manufacturing, roads the historical record is almost blank. In 1000 years scholars will look back and sigh that there was no sign that wise men ever ruled!” In a nutshell Nigerian life has become a nightmare and there is no succor in sight.

Yet the necessary wisdom, tact and skills to set things aright is in our hands and within our power. It can be found in the church. Not the church of denominations but the Ecclesia within the churches that have been gifted to understand the wisdom of the cross. Those who have learnt to overcome hatred with love, strife with peace and curses with blessings. This is the power of the cross and the way of victory. If this is the road we must pass to secure a future for our children and set our nation on the path of peace then we shall surely rise to the occasion when the clarion calls. Love is our greatest weapon and love is our greatest defense.

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it. – Martin Luther King Jnr.

We do not seek the supremacy of the South neither that of the North, we do not clamor for one tribe over the other but that each citizen be as valued as the other.

This is what we have to offer and it’s a costly price to pay yet it’s a path that never fails.

Blood may have to flow in the streets of our nation before we attain our freedom, but that blood should be our blood, and not that of the oppressor – Speech, 1956 – Martin Luther King Jnr.

Monday, January 11, 2010


On the 1st of October in 1960 a special Independence Bible was launched in the Nigerian Church. This Amethyst text Bible carried a frontispiece portrait of Samuel Ajayi Crowther and a colour picture of the Lagos Cathedral.

The special edition of the Holy Bible was designed to be an Ebenezer, a landmark memorial by the Church leadership of that day, that would speak to future generations of Nigerian Christians. The Church Fathers wanted us to know that the pre-Independence development of Nigeria and the struggle for Independence was in most parts a Christian legacy.

It was their hope that the post-Independence church would continue to serve in no less capacity. 50 years after Independence the Nigerian experience is yet to justify the sacrifice and investments that was poured into her foundation.

Ranging from healthcare, education, communication, transportation to national and food security issues we are yet to guarantee the provision of the basics that constitute the bedrock of stable nations. Our citizens are continually demeaned at home and disrespected abroad without any hope of redress. Youth in the gloom of despair are resorting to crime, prostitution and illegal immigration to hostile nations in search of a better life. Unbridled corruption has brought us to the point where infant and maternal mortality quotients show that the privileges enjoyed by a few are funded by the blood and bones of infants and their mothers!

Perhaps the time has come when the Church of Jesus Christ in Nigeria has to speak up on the behalf of our voiceless millions that this was not what we bargained for when we started out in 1960. Through decades of aimless drift the Nigerian citizen has held on to the slender hope of a bright tomorrow but we never imagined that we would be asked to sit still in the rough seas of global economic meltdown in a decrepit national ship manned by confused hands with a captain that is nowhere to be found.

We did not come through slave trade and colonial chains to sit by and watch innocent millions sacrificed on the altar of political ambitions. The church is aware that righteous change does not come cheap as history has taught us that the oppressor never gives up voluntarily. Righteousness exalts a nation and two can never walk together until there is an accord.

If need be as in the days of old, the church will yet again make the necessary sacrifices until hope, progress and direction is restored to our great nation. In the words of James Holy Johnson the parson of St Paul’s Church, Breadfruit, Lagos, 1874 “Africa is to rise once more; Ethiopia is to stretch out her hands unto God, her tears are to be wiped off her eyes” His parsonage in Breadfruit was the centre of nationalist meetings; where issues affecting the welfare of Nigerians were discussed. Championing socio-political change in many areas, they compelled the government to spend more on education and insisted on timelines to build bridges to connect the Lagos mainland to the Island.

The testimony of Holy Johnson is one out of the many Christian leaders that we may need to look back to draw strength from in the days ahead until righteousness is restored in Nigeria.

The church and the people of God cannot continue to remain silent in the face of the challenges that have engulfed our nation. The lot of the common man has become increasingly burdensome, and the yoke he carries has reached a critical point, yet we see no respite coming from our political leadership.

The cankerworms of corruption, nepotism, greed and injustice, to name just a few, continue to eat away at the fabric of our society unchecked. These ills have led us in recent times to:
Fuel Crisis

The lingering fuel crisis that has continued unabated since October 2009.

Power Crisis
The power situation, which has improved marginally recently, continues to be epileptic, with most Nigerians still receiving less than 12 hours electricity supply every day.

Islamic Terrorism
The expansion of terrorism from within our borders to the international community has brought shame and opprobrium to our nation.

It is important also to note that the prolonged absence of our President from the seat of government has exacerbated all these crises and created problems of its own.

Brethren, we must by our own example of righteous living set a standard for our nation, we cannot participate in the sins of our people and expect that somehow it will be well with Nigeria. We also as a people of God cannot continue to remain silent in the face of our national malaise. For evil to triumph all it takes is for the righteous to remain silent.

Finally, “Change is never achieved without sacrifice and inconvenience” RICHARD HOOKER (1554 -1600). Do not allow the word sacrifice to fill you with trepidation, because “sacrifice is simply an investment toward a better future”.


The Fountain of Life Church
Word Revival Church
This Present House
House on the Rock
The Pentecostal Congregation
Living Waters Unlimited
Guiding Light Assembly
Daystar Christian Ministries
Conquerors Chapel
Grace Family International Church
Foundation of Truth Assembly
Vineyard Christian Ministry
Still Waters
Abuja Worship Centre
Grace Assembly
House of Grace
Agape Generation