National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has warned of impending danger as 2015 draws nigh due to the way politicians are aligning along religious line.
Oritsejafor said this before the commencement of the 8th edition of Word of Life Bible Church/Eagle Flight Micro-Finance Bank poverty reduction programme where he gave out six brand new cars, 15 tricycles and 100 grinding machines.
Speaking at the event which took place on Boxing day, the CAN president spoke on the essence of Christmas saying it is, “a season of love and giving,” noting that, “the most powerful verse in the Holy Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish but have everlasting life””.
Oritsejafor lamented that the essence of Christmas has been lost in many places.
“It’s very painful and pathetic for me to see what Christmas has become, but that must not stop us from celebrating. It’s sad, because it has become a commercial venture, where people sell this and that.
“The worst of it is not just even the selling, it’s the killing and the maiming and destruction. People get drunk and do all kinds of crazy stuff in the name of Christmas. Yesterday, Christmas day, some people died; they didn’t die because they were sick, they died because they were stupid,” Oritsejafor said.
“In the name of Christmas, people get drunk and have accidents that take their lives. In my own opinion, 99 per cent of people in this world, either they don’t understand what Christmas is, or they don’t want to understand what Christmas is, because when you see the way people do certain things, the extent which they go….People literally don’t go to church on Christmas day. It’s surprising to me that the person you are celebrating is the Church Himself, and yet you won’t go to Church on Christmas day, so what exactly are you celebrating?”
The seeming gang-up between the Muslim South-west and the North-west that is predominantly Muslims ahead of 2015, according to Oritsejafor portends danger.
“To be honest with you, I’m very troubled,” he confessed. “They don’t like people like us saying certain things. At the end of the day, they look at us and say ‘you are the one that is heating up the polity’, but it is strange because all we do is react to the reactions of other people.
“What you have just described is exactly what some of us are seeing that is very frightening. Are we aligning along religious line? Because if that is what is happening, it is very dangerous for Nigeria.
“Obviously, it is not all of the South-west, it is like the Muslim South-west, the far North Muslims. It is very frightening, it shouldn’t be, and they shouldn’t pretend about this, they should come out and tell the truth because that’s what we see here.
“I don’t want to comment on political parties because I’m not a politician, I’m not going to that extent, but we should not do that. We should please allow Nigeria be and allow the people to decide what they want.
“It’s a very dangerous direction if we go that way. The body language we see is not good for this nation, and I think the media must help us to get the message across that this is very dangerous for the unity of this nation and I pray that it shouldn’t go that way so that we can come today and not try to divide this nation.
“I’m being very selective in my words. I wish Nigeria well. I believe that 2013 was a year of discovery, 2014 for me is a year of recovery. I see Nigeria being able to recover. We have an incredible opportunity to recover and I hope and pray and believe God for recovery,” Oritsejafor said.
The CAN president also decried the way Christians are being marginalised in the country.
“For example, two weeks ago,” he said, “the Christian Association of Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, led by Rtd Gen Piko, visited me in Abuja on a solidarity visit. I didn’t even know they existed, and in the spirit of Christmas, when they shared how pathetic their situation is today in Nigeria, I wept. I had to look for two million naira to give to them to start something like a revolving loan. Some things that certain people do appear on front pages, but 99 per cent of Nigerians don’t even know what happened.
“These people came from Jigawa, Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara. They are the real core northerners that we are talking about.
“They lamented that the Federal Government is spending huge sums establishing Almajiri schools across the North, asking what about our own children? ‘Our children can’t go to those schools. We are more marginalized than anybody else, we are seen as Fulanis, we are seen as Hausas, Kanuris, but we are not treated as such; even by our own people, just for the single reason that we are Christians’.
“And I asked a question, ‘where are the civil rights groups in this country?’ Where are all these groups in Nigeria? What is their mission? Because, sometimes, when I see them go after certain issues, forgive me but sometimes I feel like these are paid events that they do.”
Speaking further on marginalisation of Christians, Oritsejafor cited another example of such act.
“Five days ago, the Sarawa nation, an ethnic nationality from Bauchi State, in the Tafawa Balewa Bogoro local government area, also paid me a solidarity visit. They have chosen their paramount ruler, but the governor refused to give him a staff of office. Why? Because they are Christians.
“The headquarters of their local government was removed. That should not be because, according to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, nobody except the National Assembly can alter local government headquarters. Bauchi State government did it. They moved it. The only girl secondary school in their area was closed down by the governor and Muslim girls were moved to other schools, but Christian girls were left to roam the streets,” he lamented.
“When I say things like this, people say ‘oh he hates Muslims’ , no! I don’t hate Muslims, but I hate this discrimination which started long before Boko Haram,” Oritsejafor said.