Friday, August 6, 2021
Lagos, Nigeria

ne common desire in the heart of all true lovers of God all over the world today is "Peace". As of today, peace is the most greatly commodity sought for, everywhere in the entire world.

In spite of the uncountable number of Peace confabs and initiatives, yet peace has eluded most entire countries of the world. Nigeria is not spared. I can say boldly that peace as of today is the most costly commodity everywhere on the globe. There is war everywhere. There is killing of fellow human beings everywhere.

But why is peace so evasive in spite of the several moves to install it?

In this sermon, I am concentrating mostly on peace in Nigeria. So the title of my sermon today is "Peace in Nigeria"

Meanwhile let us reverently ask God to take control of this hour.

"Peace in Nigeria"

Why is peace so evasive in spite of the several moves to install it?

Under the presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in 1999 some representatives of the two principal religions; Christianity and Islam, twenty-five on each side constituted a voluntary association called "Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC). It was inaugurated on September 11 1999.

NIREC was occasioned by the incessant ethno-religious crises, which punctuated the sociopolitical landscape of the country. It is a permanent and independent body established to provide Religious leaders and Traditional Rulers with a variable forum to promote greater interaction and understanding among the leadership and their followers as well as lay foundations for sustainable peace and religious harmony in the country.

A review was made in March 2019 and the membership expanded to 30 on each side in order to accommodate for women and youths. It remains a voluntary association.

With all the insecurity, length and breadth of the country erupting mainly from religious differences, one may want to ask 'How successful has this voluntary organization (NIREC) and many others like it have been? Are they able to meet their objectives?

One of such inter religious peace talk was organized recently on July 7 at Ilorin, anchored by one young dynamic fellow. I admire his courage and organizational skill. He was able to pull very high ranking Islamic and Christian leaders from all over the nation, mostly Ilorin and Abuja to the peace talk at MM hall, Sabo Oke. The hall was full. The high ranking spiritual leaders presented beautiful citations.

But if I may ask, starting from the highest organ of Peace initiative, the NIREC,

i. Do they all personally have the belief in all sincerity, that all religions must be allowed to exist and operate freely without hindrance in the country?

ii. Do they all personally have the belief in all sincerity, that no one religion should dominate other religions?

iii. Do they all personally have the belief in all sincerity, that no one religion should be favored by the government more than other religions?

Except these questions are answered truthfully and addressed, all the meetings are simply a charade, hypocrisy, a waste of time and money and all the peace orations, empty and deceitful.

Let us ask more questions;

i. Is it possible that some of the members of those people at the meetings who present beautiful papers are the same who go behind the scene and scheme that no person of other religion other than theirs can hold certain positions including cabinet ones in the country?

ii. Can they be the same Clerics who go on the mega phone at their places of worship and preach to their congregations that they should cast their votes only for candidates from their mother (i.e their faith).

I do not see anything wrong in promoting a candidate in the place of worship because I want the person who will make life comfortable for the populace to be enthroned because the journey to heaven will be made easier if a Godly person is on the throne. The Bible says that when the righteous rules, the people rejoice but when the wicked rules, the people mourn (Proverbs 29:2).

In the two principal religions are very godly, caring people just as there are very ungodly and selfish people among the people of the two faiths. So, Godliness in a candidate should be campaigned for and not religion. And this is the only reason why in 2015, though a Christian that I am, I pitched my tent in the camp of baba Buhari and promoted his candidacy against his opponent who is a member of my constituency, Christianity. Unfortunately, it has become something of a regret as baba has disappointed us.

iii. Would everyone in the peace meetings ever support that someone who is not of their religion but competent, truthful and honest be enthroned as a governor of a state?

iv. Would they work for the enthronement of someone as a governor, found to be competent, godly and honest but who is not from their faith?

My belief is that at such peace conferences, the several root causes of rift and grudges, leading to unrest are what ought to be addressed.

Consider these scenarios

i. Land ownership is part of our culture in Nigeria. It is a fact known to us all. How can there be peace in any community where one particular neighboring town occupies the ancestral land of its neighbor simply because over the time, it has been favored by certain factors and it has grown big and produced many highly placed people?

Where there is Godliness, the right thing to do is to buy the land from the rightful owner and not to occupy it and going to the court with forged documents, employing ungodly lawyers to argue the case in its favor.

When Sarah, Abraham's wife died and he saw a land, which pleased him to bury her, he openly and honestly negotiated and paid for the land in the presence of witnesses (Gen. 23). Abraham could forge documents to claim ownership. Besides he had become mighty in war, he could forcibly acquire it but he did not do any of those but paid the right price.

We also read in 2 Samuel 23 that David needed to use the threshing floor of a man called Arauna, a Jebusite, David was the only power in the region. He could forcibly acquire it. Arauna offered the land to king David free of charge but king David refused. Arauna even pleaded that David should have it free but David insisted to pay and he paid the required amount of money.

These are Godly behavior that makes peace to reign in the land. I hope all the big cities that are oppressing their neighboring small towns, acquiring their land, concocting stories, forging documents, will learn to be Godly like Abraham and King David before the true judge of heaven come to the rescue of the people they are oppressing and destroy their properties and pride. The same goes for the people who call themselves the children of the land, who after their fathers had been paid, would foment trouble by reselling the same land to another fellow except the first buyer rebuys it.

Get it right that the God of heaven is looking down, watching the activities of man below and He is a God of vengeance. You are certainly planting seed of destruction for your coming generation.

ii. How can there be peace where a certain town, conduct clandestine meetings asking her people to repeal and take over all the lands purchased by people of other faiths, particularly when perceived that such lands are meant for building the house of worship of their religion?

iii. Will there be peace when government jobs are said to be frozen but people of the favored faith and tribes are offered jobs from behind? Further more, only people of the favoured faith and tribe are offered certain high profile appointments and people of the favoured faith and tribe dominate every segment of the public service? Yet it is not impossible that the people who are behind all these injustice are the same who constitute the peace meetings and present beautiful orations.

iv. How can there be peace when candidates seeking admission to tertiary institutions have to falsify their religion on their application form to one that is presumed to be favoured for their admission to be made easier?

v. How can there be peace when the propriety rights of Schools built by a particular faith are over the night taken away from them without any compensation paid and the court is made to sanction it?

vi. Will there not be grudges when the activities of a certain religion are restricted to some specific areas in the town? Yet we say we are a secular state with freedom of speech and religion.

These and many other items, which cause grudge in the country beg for answer. They are things needed to be addressed and solution provided for in the peace meetings. When these are not done, the peace meetings become nothing but speech jamboree.

As for me, I have no objection to anyone preaching his faith to me. I am a Christian and if today, someone is able to convince me that Jesus Christ is not the visa to God and he presents someone else with credible evidence to have paid the penalty of my sins, I will not hesitate to convert immediately because heaven is not anything I want to gamble with.

But it is not acceptable to me and even to God for someone to cut my head simply because I do not see reason with him to convert to his faith. God has not asked anyone to defend Him in such a way.

I lived in the capital of the Islamic world for 17 years, I was preached to countless numbers and I too, equally explained to them countless numbers the hope I have in Jesus Christ. No qualms or offence by any party.

In like manner, I do not see any reason why someone should take offence if I reach out to him to present my faith to him for consideration of the salvation of his soul.

Lastly, let us ask "What serious efforts are the prominent leaders in the two principal faiths making to reach out and appeal to the fundamentalists hiding under their faith to stop their evil campaign? Such actions should include reaching out to the government and political leaders of the foreign countries where they originate. Doing this is the most desirable.

A professor of religious law accosted Jesus Christ and asked him, which was the greatest of the laws. Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy bheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy cmind. ... 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt alove thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the alaws and the prophets"

The phrase "Thou shalt alove thy neighbour as thyself" is the key note that ought to be sounded, pronounced, emphasized and re-emphasized in all the peace meetings and initiatives. If this counsel from our Lord sounds sensible and upheld by every faith and tribal leaders and leaders of neighboring communities, there is ought to be peace everywhere and there will be no need for any marathon peace meetings any time.

Let us pray

Sam Aweda

Pastor, Jesus for the World Revival Mission (Peoples' Church)