Rev. Uma Ukpai, one of the nation’s renowned clerics and President of Uma Ukpai Evangelic Association Inc., has bemoaned the dwindling value of human life in the country, no thanks to the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
Speaking at the special interdenominational “Solemn Assembly” held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State recently, Ukpai observed that the mindless killings by the sect in parts of the North have robbed the nation of the sacredness of human life.
The only way out of the sad development, he said, is for Christians and Muslims to come together to fight and root out the common foe.
The popular preacher said the foundation for Boko Haram was laid by “our leaders who hired thugs and armed them to disgrace, kick and kill their opponents in different parts of the country”.
Rev Ukpai, who doubles as the Chairman of King of Kings Specialist Hospital, also gave an unusual condition for anyone aspiring to truly lead the country.
Why the Solemn Assembly?
The state of the nation is enough to make the blind see that we need God’s intervention. Every individual is a watchman appointed by God to have a part in the defence of this nation and the Bible says when the enemy comes against us like a flood, God will raise a standard, and an enemy has come against Nigeria as a flood. We need to call God into action.
We need to bring Him into our situation. Just recently, according to newspaper reports, gunmen killed 10 people in a church. A pastor was killed in the presence of his wife and children. What does that mean? It means we have lost the sacredness of the human being. What does that mean? It means that security has fallen in our streets.
It means we have lost regard and respect for one another. It also means that human beings are lower than rats in Nigeria. It means also that what stands before us is death, poverty, failure, struggling and humiliation. That is what stands before us. It also means that a demon wants to suck the blood of Nigerians and that demon has no respect for class. In those days, a pastor was respected and honoured and could not be killed in the presence of his wife and children just for being a pastor.
Problem with Boko Haram
The most painful thing is that Boko Haram has no face. So, we don’t know who Boko Haram is and from the look of things it is like we are losing the battle. I want to commend the government for their efforts, but I also want to say they need to do more, because the essence of government is to protect the weak from the strong, and if the government cannot protect us from Boko Haram, then something is out of place. Every Christian in this country is under obligation to pray for the leaders of the nation for God has so commanded us. We cannot stop praying until Boko Haram is stopped and disarmed.
The easiest thing under the sun is to confess the sins of your neighbour without confessing your own sins. It is easy to blame the government but it is no longer government’s responsibility only. Every Nigerian must assume responsibility over what is happening.
The Bible says that when we are in trouble, if we call on God alone, He responds to us. He who turned the Red Sea into red carpet can fight the battle for us. He that turned mountains into fountains of water can fight this battle for us. He that gave breakfast every day to the Israelites can fight this battle for us. Only that He requires (that) we come with clean hands.
So, our Solemn Assembly was to make sure that we who are asking for God’s intervention have clean hands and that we also must be doers of His word, not hearers only. The Bible says it is not that His ears are shut that He can’t hear us or His hands short that He cannot fight for us, but that sin can turn Him away from fighting for us. David said to God, “Search me and see if there is any sin in my house that will stop you from answering my prayers.” That is what Solemn Assembly was all about–Lord, search us, big and small, and see if there is anything from us that will stop you from fighting this battle. That was the theme.
We need to act fast
The call for help is urgent because the number of people we lose per week has become alarming. Boko Haram’s boldness is challenging. We were told they are illiterate and if they can exhibit this level of creativity and evil imagination, we need to go back to our closets and put our house in order. It is a call for all to be involved, every Nigerian. It is a call for Muslims and Christians to come together for only in our unity can we defeat Boko Haram.
The degree of the criminality of what Boko Haram is doing is frightening. When I speak of fright, I speak in the context of the consequences of what they are doing. If a mother is killed or a father is killed, whatever the children will go through is a part of that thing.
Time to review Nigeria’s foundation
Finally, Boko Haram is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria. It is a call to review the strength of our foundation as a nation. It is also an invitation to re-examine our regard for one another and a call to review and examine the way forward. It is also mandatory for us all to confront our failure to be our brother’s keeper. It is also important that we answer the question, “Can a nation destroy itself and develop?” This is because some of us don’t know what they are fighting for. When a man fights from the position of ignorance and bitterness, he is making himself vulnerable.
Ignorance simply shows they don’t know what the questions are and they cannot even find an answer when they don’t know what the questions are. That is to say the Boko Haram people don’t even know why they are fighting and because they don’t know why they are fighting, they cannot even achieve anything. So, we had this “Solemn Assembly” to tell God where we have failed Him and to ask God to teach us what to do, how to turn defeat into victory and to remind God that our eyes are on Him because we don’t really know what to do next until He tells us what to do. It is also a warning to Boko Haram that we are not taking what they are doing for granted. One day, we shall respond to them.
Why Sovereign National Conference will fail
The National Conference could have been a brilliant idea if we were going to have non-Nigerians to execute it. From my point of view, every Nigerian has a tribal bias in everything he does. Those who are clamouring for Sovereign Conference, do they know the meaning? The meaning is that every government will lose its power to function and the Sovereign Conference will now take over the government of the day. Every tribal leader will always defend his tribe, seek the welfare of his tribe and the promotion of his tribe and that disqualifies him from speaking on behalf of a nation that is not based on tribes.
Nobody can break up this country
We had once tried to break up and the blood of many people watered the soil on which we now stand as a nation. Therefore, anybody who wants to break away must first donate his own blood. A part of this nation used their blood to water the strength of Nigeria. Therefore anybody who wants to break away from this nation must also first do so.
Boko Haram is not a new thing
You people are sounding as if Boko Haram is a new thing. It is not. When our political leaders hired thugs to chase their opponents away and humiliate them, that was the coming of Boko Haram. All our leaders who hired thugs and armed them to disgrace their opponents, kick and kill their opponents from different angles of Nigeria were calling for Boko Haram. Boko Haram is not new; it has been there before now. They laid the foundation for Boko Haram through political thuggery and these thugs were armed with guns and the leaders were unable to take back the guns from the boys they recruited.
Government’s offer to dialogue with Boko Haram
They (government) are giving undue recognition to Boko Haram. When a criminal is given a seat of honour, you are asking him to continue in his criminality. The language that Boko Haram understands is the language of force.
Violent politics and effects
I have said that as long as our leaders continue to use thugs against one another, they are also creating good platform for another class of Boko Haram to show up. Can our political leaders show respect for one another? Can they show reverence for one another, love one another and maintain sportsmanship in their attempt to gain power? In the First Republic, the politicians acted like lawyers. They could argue bitterly and become friends after the argument.
So, it was encouraging and that is what we need. What we have now are criminals as politicians. When a man can plot the death of his colleague, he is a criminal. I don’t care what title he gives himself. So, all the politicians who hired thugs and trained them, and armed them, they gave vent to Boko Haram.
In-fighting in Christendom
Do I know about this in-fighting? The gospel is a river; it filters itself. Nobody should fight for the Church. The owner of the Church will fight for himself. There is so much story about in-fighting. I don’t see any in-fighting. It is just natural among men. But life is made in a way that what you sow is what you reap. If a pastor goes to the pulpit to blackmail another pastor, those who like the other pastor will leave his church and go to that other pastor’s church.
So, the gospel is designed in a way that it is a river that filters itself. If a pastor is given to sin, he will not convince anybody to give up his or her sin. So, he will have a church of sinners. I have done business with a church where three of their members duped me N 3.5 million. So I told the pastor, “This is not a church; it is a grooming ground for criminals. I will not do business with you again”. It takes one girl to bring a pastor down. So, leave God alone. He knows what to do.
Have we ever been united? Is there anything like Nigeria? We are a coming together of different nationalities and everybody speaking for his little nation and tribe. Most of the people you call leaders are tribal leaders and they want those tribes to be recognised because if they are not recognised, they themselves will have no place.
The making of a true Nigerian leader
I have said long time ago that anybody who wants to be our leader must first dig his grave, buy his coffin, organise his burial ceremony and then take up the leadership. It takes being willing to die for Nigeria, to rule Nigeria; because he is going to step on so many toes that will even surprise him. So, the next leader we shall have must bring his coffin, show us his grave and we will do his burial ceremony for him before he assumes office.
Prophecy for Nigeria
We shall overcome. I said it before, nobody can dismember this nation because some people had used their blood to water and cement the future of this country. Therefore, their blood cries unto God. We should also search and probe ourselves and find the weak hands and strengthen them. You don’t go asking God to do things when you are wearing a dirty dress; He cannot look at.
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