The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, on Tuesday in Abuja, said politicians in the country were “using terrorism for short-term political gains.”
According to him, the nation is still experiencing the Boko Haram insurgency “because Nigerians are pretenders. They are always in the habit of running away from the truth.”
He expressed pessimism that things might never work in Nigeria, until leaders and followers embraced the truth.
The cleric, who spoke during a peace parley between the Northern Christian Elders Forum and traditional rulers from the North, said the greatest war that Nigeria is fighting today is the war against the truth.
Addressing the northern monarchs he said, “As you strengthen this body, I urge you to reach out to those across the Niger so that a true national dialogue can begin. Share your experiences with your colleagues from the South and learn from each other.
“The greatest war we are fighting is a war against the truth. We hate and fear the truth. It is so unfortunate. Nigeria is not free because we are running away from the truth. Truth can be bitter, but when you swallow it, it becomes sweet. No nation can grow without embracing the truth.
“We are like ostriches. We are a nation of pretenders. We run away from the truth and expect our problems to just vanish. Truth has a way of creating a level-playing field for everybody. We must build a nation on truth. What is happening here is a bold step towards embracing the truth.”
He regretted that despite the fact that both the North and South had existed since 1914, there were still misconceptions in the South about northerners and their religious inclinations.
Oritsejafor, therefore, advised the over 30 traditional rulers drawn from North-Central, North-West and North-East zones present at the parley to correct the anomaly.
He said, “There was a time in this country, if you needed to call Ivory Coast, you will have to call France in order to connect with the person. It was a terrible system. In a sense, that is what has been happening.
“Let me say that when I was growing up, we were deceived to believe that everybody from northern Nigeria was a Muslim. We were deceived in a sense to think and believe that everybody in northern Nigeria was Hausa/Fulani. It was one Musa who lectured me and brought me out of my ignorance. So many people in the South are also ignorant like me. You may not know, but most Nigerians do not know Christian traditional rulers from the North exist in this country.”
Oritsejafor told the monarchs to reach out to their counterparts across the nation, saying such synergy would bring the much-needed peace that Nigeria wants.
While recalling some horrific experiences Christians in some core northern states contend with everyday, the Chairman of Northern Christian Elders Forum, Olaiya Philips, said every week, Boko Haram Islamic group carries out fresh attacks, especially in communities dominated by Christians.
He said, “As we meet, an inferno is engulfing our nation. Everyday, reports reach us from our members of new attacks by Boko Haram and their followers. Each week, a new town or village appears to be briefly occupied, pillaged and then deserted before the insurgents can be apprehended.
“Innocent civilians are murdered, families are torn apart and communities are expelled. Businesses, farms and churches are razed. Like a wild bush fire, Boko Haram has spread from town to town as they try to establish their vision of an ‘Islamic caliphate.’”