an Absalom rebellion in Abia

Columnist Chido Nwakanma explores the many ways that Southern Nigeria can overcome living in the midst of foes.

Christian, seek not yet repose,
Hear thy gracious Savior say;
Thou art in the midst of foes:
Watch and pray.

Principalities and powers,
Mustering their unseen array,
Wait for thy unguarded hours:
Watch and pray.

Watch, as if on that alone
Hung the issue of the day;
Pray, that help may be sent down:
Watch and pray

Desperate times have come upon Nigeria. Islamic fundamentalists of various stripes are going round the country preaching the message of violence, kidnapping, ransom and destruction. These are agents of the devil different from the traditional moslems with whom Nigerian communities have interacted over the years.

Summer 2022 has witnessed many high profile incidents. It started with the kidnap and release of the Prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, Bishop Kanu Uche and two other priests after paying N100m ransom. The kidnappers waylaid Uche and his team in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State. It got deadly on 5 June 2022 as murderers invaded the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo during mass. They killed 43 persons and injured over 60. The Federal government quickly blamed the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) as the perpetrator even as governors of the South-West do not agree with the hasty conclusion.

The following Sunday, churches began mounting security checks. It is as they should do. There was heightened security as I went to my former parish at the Catholic Church of the Resurrection Magodo 2.

The bad news is dominant as incidents grow. Typical stories now include

  • “Gunmen abduct Anglican bishop, wife in Oyo, demand N50m ransom”
  • “Gunmen invade Ogun church, kidnap 2 worshippers”.
  • “Kidnappers demand N50M ransom for Catholic Priest, N145m for wedding guests”

Heads of Christian churches are now a cash cow for terrorists!

Southern Nigeria needs to wake up. The South needs to face this danger collectively and with resolve. The region must not give room to these terrorists in whatever garb they come.

What to do? Smoke out occupants of all the forests in the South. Luckily, the Federal Government claims they are illegal aliens. Such characters should not determine the texture of life in our communities.

The South needs to examine itself. Recent history shows the visible hands of seemingly unseen forces behind these happenings.

Burning Southern Nigerian Cities

Living in the midst of foes
Living in the midst of foes

Starting from Lagos, cities across Southern Nigeria suffered the pain of sword and fire on Wednesday, 21 October 2020.

Affected cities include Aba, Abakaliki, Asaba, Enugu, Nnewi, Port Harcourt, Owerri into a police station in Mbaitoli, and more.

Were these spontaneous or organised?

Who is turning the ethnic groups against each other in a search for blames for these acts of arson and brigandage? What is their goal?

Given the emerging narratives, there is cause for scepticism and concern. Who is behind this gale of destruction? Who sends these people in buses to police stations, banks, local government buildings and other public infrastructure?

Citizens in these cities should wake up to a sense of community.

The police seem to have taken a break from their job of protecting the cities. Citizens should step into the gap.

These things happened in the wake of #endSARS. It was a false flag operation under the cover of that protest. Through it, nihilists inflicted massive damage to Lagos, from the Island to the Mainland, burning courts and historical artefacts.

Governments in the South responded with curfews. It was ineffective and wrongly headed. The curfews provided easy access only to miscreants in the absence of the police and with citizens cowering indoors. The tenor of kidnapping and banditry increased exponentially from thence. They broke into jails in Benin City and elsewhere.

It is time to call a halt to the morass of banditry and terrorism. Glad to learn of the moves in Abia and Anambra where the state governors have ordered evacuations of their forests. Governors of the South-West also committed to a new security architecture. It is the way to go.

Watch and pray, dear Christians. During a similar period in the Abacha years, the Catholic Church commissioned the Prayer for Nigeria in Distress. That prayer is even more relevant today. It needs updating for specificity.

The Christian manual shows the way. II Chronicles 7:14 NKJV: If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.

Heal our land, O Lord. Heal Nigeria, we pray.

Living in the midst of foes