Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has publicly stated that members of Boko Haram and ISWAP are targeting Christians and Christian communities. See:
This long overdue admission by the Nigerian Federal Government is welcome.
This week I have been meeting Nigerians from Muslim and Christian backgrounds . They shared their stories of Boko Haram’s barbarism.
Muslims have also been caught up in the violence but Mr. Mohammed is right when he says of Boko Haram :“They have started targeting Christians and Christian villages for a specific reason, which is to trigger a religious war and throw the nation into chaos.”
He said: “… they seem to now have a deliberate policy of attacking Christians” and that the killing of 11 Christians on Christmas Eve fits into the strategy.
One brave Muslim woman I talked to this week told me “We don’t need Boko Haram, we need Boko Halal”. Education should not be forbidden – it should be welcomed and permitted, especially for girls.
Nigeria’s Federal Government should also reappraise its statements about the role of those Fulanis who, like Boko Haram, are driven by the same divisive murderous ideology.
The great country of Nigeria deserves better than this.
If it is to avoid Domesday scenarios that threaten the very existence of the Federation it will require honest and accountable government; leaders of integrity; community cohesion; the protection of minorities; and an end to life taking sectarian violence. It should introduce the teaching of citizenship into its schools, promoting shared identity and diversity.
Perhaps some of the £800,000 of aid given every day to Nigeria by the UK could be used for this purpose. Perhaps some of it could also be spent on creating a national College for Leadership – forming some of tomorrow’s leaders, Muslims and Christians together.
Nigerians need to stand together and its Government must listen to the victims and engage with ravaged local communities; lead sustained efforts to protect and reconcile divided communities; end cycles of revenge and retaliation; address root causes; end impunity and bring to justice those who threaten the country’s very existence. Don’t let Nigeria go the way of Sudan.
Leah Sharibu’s Mother, Rebecca, comes to Westminster to highlight the continued abduction and incarceration of her teenage daughter, Leah and criticises President Buhari’s failure to secure her release. Parliamentarians point to the 2.5 billion given by the UK to the Nigeria over the last 10 years -an average of around £800,000 every day – and ask how are its leaders using this money?