As a concerned Nigerian, a public affairs analyst and a cleric, I write this rejoinder concerning the above subject matter (Archbishop John Onaiyekan’s interview, published in Daily Sun) which I regard not only as a war of words, attack on a revered ecclesiastical personage and deception but an outright playing over the intelligence/sensibilities of Nigerians.

It is important to get things write. In the Catholic Church, an Archbishop is addressed as, Your Grace and not My Lord and Abuja is not just a diocese but an Archdiocese.

I am sure what seems unclear to many Nigerians like myself is whether the writer of this piece is one Pius Adesanmi whose name appears at the beginning of the text or the presidential spokesperson, Dr. Reuben Abati whose name is appended at the end of the write-up.

Since the latter’s name is affixed underside the bit and he is the presidential ‘town-crier,’ one would say, Abati we know but Adesanmi, we are not sure! Meaning, we know where it is coming from; presumably so, because the writer equally inferred that the Archbishop Onaiyekan was referring to Mr. President!

I would just pick some sensitive points made therein which sound philosophically illogical and irrational and practically confusing and contradictory. You said, “President Jonathan was quick to recognize that terrorism has been a global threat since September 11, 2011 and had the presence of mind and sense of judgment to realize that it is now Nigeria’s turn to be attacked by terrorists.”     

I dare to put it to you that common sense tells us that recognizing there is danger is different from taking decisive steps to nip the situation in the bud as experience has shown Nigerians. To say it is our turn to be attacked by terrorists is the unkindest words of the millennium to the Nigerian populace. Are you saying that what we are now facing is our own share of the ‘international cake’ of terror? 

In your frantic defense of the status quo, you said, “As soon as he (the president - addition, mine) had that epiphany, he took a bold step that no world leader has ever taken on terror; he reassured the Nigerian people that Boko Haram and other manifestations of terror would end in Nigeria by June 2012.” Knowledge of logic reveals this as a fallacy of hasty conclusion. What bold steps has government taken about the war on terror? Is it the partial state of emergency in some volatile states? Is it the check-point approach to security measures? How many surveillance helicopters do we see flying about to say the least of community-policing?

Your assumptions and conclusions are far-fetched. To refresh your memory, President Barack Obama in his inaugural speech said concerning terrorists: “we will defeat you…” His predecessor, George Bush declaring the war on terror on September 20, 2001 said, “Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution.

Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”

Do these words sound like being on top of the situation? On the contrary, these words are proactive, assertive, alive and active. One is surprised at the phrase, being on top of the situation, often used by Mr. President. Taken literary, it means our leaders are on top, enjoying the ivory palace of comfort while the masses are below, feeling the heat. I challenge anyone from the south to take a vacation to the North-East and you will know what being on top of the situation breeds!

I make bold to opine that giving an expiry date to the war on terror is treating the matter with kid gloves. This is far from an achievement save only being failure to read the handwriting on the wall. The scripture is clear on this when it says, “Just when people are saying: Now peace and security are ours, suddenly ruin will come upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3). What do we make of the recent attacks in Bayero University, Kano and Jalingo -  Taraba States?      

One is shocked that the controversial removal of fuel subsidy is now shamefully proclaimed from the house-tops as an achievement. One wonders why Abati who had written an article against the removal of fuel subsidies in 2009: “We Shall Start Stoning the Economists in the Official Corridors,” is now an apostle of this quagmire. Is this the case of his sipping the irresistible juice of power or it is just the case of the undoing of professionalism? The conclusion is, he has joined the cabal, the kitchen cabinet – in fact, a compromising yes-Lieutenant to a do-it-General crowning it all with making a mockery of our journalism thus; “…given the infinite capacity of our local journalists for mischief.”  

What is more worrisome is the remark that, “He struck a deadly blow against corruption and freed up subsidy money for investment in infrastructure…” What infrastructure is the Dr. talking about? Is it the epileptic power supply, moribund railway system, insecurity of lives and property, poverty and unemployment?

The call on foreign investors “…to ignore the threat of Boko Haram and go about their business peacefully in Nigeria” is an invitation to play in the lion’s den. ‘Ignore’ is not synonymous with taking ‘measures (security)’ and harkening to this unpopular and illusory creed is attempting to stop the thunder with one’s head.

Abati, like some Nigerians has tasted power and like soldier ants for sugar-water, now boldly eulogizes his boss by reminding Nigerians of the latter’s famous feat namely being on the list of one hundred most influential people in Times Magazine.  If one may ask, how many of such people so- recognized, are talking about it or consider it a-noise-making-venture?  If the likes of Bill Gates would prefer a low profile what are we talking about? We must note that Nigeria is the most populous nation in Black Africa. Endowed with human and natural resources, she has paid her dues in the areas of music, movies, sports, the academia to mention just a few.  As such, any president coming from a country like this cannot but be a celebrity in the eyes of the world.

Suffice it to point here that, the Archbishop like any other concerned, sensible and sensitive Nigerian has the right to air his opinion. Secondly, he like other clerics of his right has the prophetic mandate of stinking to consciousness. Truth is like hot tea, whether you serve it hot or cold depends on you. Telling the ecclesiastic to upgrade his knowledge of the Nigerian realities before granting an interview is daring the intelligence of a man of many distinctions and standing in the way of God’s anointed to proclaim the truth. To Adesanmi, I say, is this the prize of majoring in English and African Studies? To Abati, some words are more powerful than others – measure yours on the DIVINE WORD and the POSTERITY of this great nation. I rest my case!

Fr. Justine John Dyikuk, a Catholic Priest and a Public Affairs Commentator, writes from Bauchi.

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