E O EkeSaturday, July 27, 2013




he recent criticism of Nigerian Christian leaders by Sheik Gummi which drew some ire from some Christians gives a glimpse of the complexity of the Nigeria problem and magnitude of the of the challenge that must be surmounted to give Nigeria a future. I have had very little to agree with Sheik Gummi and many religious leaders like him who hold a concrete view and understanding of ancient literatures. I have opposed his stand on the Islamisation of Nigeria and the imposition of Sharia law in north Nigeria. This is because the justification for these moves stem from religious bigotry and intolerance. Moreover, I believe that the use of political power to advance religious objectives is wrong and only creates disorder in the society. I also do not share his attitude to religion and the way and manner he and many other religious leaders, including Christian leaders misuse the writings of their holy books to fan division and bigotry and perpetrate intolerance and ignorance. However, I could not agree more with the Sheik when he criticised the covetousness of Nigerian Christian leaders.It reminded me of the teaching of Jesus on covetousness.

This is not the first time a Muslim will remind me of the words of Jesus. In December 1992 or there about, I was holidaying in Aba far away from Jengre where I worked. On the morning of 27 December, I suddenly cut my holiday short. I developed an over whelming need to return to Jengre and I told my mother. She was not happy. I set out to return to Jengre and arrived at about 6 PM. Dr Bashir Jabo, the NYSC doctor serving in the hospital was very excited to see me. He told me that he had fasted since about 6 AM praying to Allah to bring me back. He told me that there was a patient in the hospital with serious strangulated hernia who refused to go to Jos University teaching Hospital and said that he wanted to die in our hospital. He had emptied all his intestines into his scrotum. Then he said, I know that Allah will bring you back.I could not believe it.

This was a Muslim doctor; serving in a Christian hospital fasting and praying to Allah to bring back a Christian doctor to save the life of a Muslim patient because the patient would not go another hospital to receive the same treatment. We took the patient to theatre and after a six hours surgery saved his life. Seven days later he was discharged. Some weeks later he brought me some yams and two cockerels and said, Ďif I was a Muslim he would have paid for me to attend the hajj. This is one of the experiences that changed my view about religion and opened my understanding to godliness and religious beliefs. It taught me that God hears all prayers, Muslims and Christians as long as they are offered from a pure heart and for good motives which makes me see the constant war between christains and Muslims in Nigeria as simply a sign of ingnorance.

The comment by Sheik Gummi about Christian leaders reminded me of the teaching of Jesus Christ on covetousness. Seeing that the Pharisees were always trying to entrap him, Jesus taught his disciples many things using the Pharisees as example. In the gospel according to Luke chapter 12 verse 15, Jesus said to his disciplesĒ take heed and beware of covetousness, for a manís life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he posseth. KJV. Jesus was saying to his disciples, be mindful of becoming inordinately desirous, excessively wanting to obtain possessions or becoming avaricious .In order to buttress his point about the evil of covetousness, Jesus told his disciples the parable of the rich fool who decided to build a new barn when he returned a rich harvest and God told him that, that day was the end of his life. In the parable Jesus taught his disciples the difference being religious and being rich towards God. From this parable Jesus was telling his disciples that religious people like the Pharisees are like the rich fool. The rich fool did nothing obviously wrong. He did not break the Ten Commandments. He earned his money. It was his rightful profit from his labour. He simply decided that he needed a new barn because he had more things to store. He did not think of those who had nothing when he had plenty.This is the same sin Sheik Gummi says Christian leaders are committing.

Christian leaders whose ministries are generating millions of Naira are not thinking about those who have nothing. Instead, they think of replacing their Mercedes Benz cars with private planes or their modest houses with palaces. They are using the money to build schools and hospitals which only the rich can afford. They use the increase in abundance to fund lavish life style which Jesus said is because of covetousness. They are righteous people who justify ostentatious living in the midst of poverty and wants and Jesus hates such people no matter the claim they make about their faith and religiosity.

This is the same thing Sheik Gummi saw when he looked at Christian leaders for which he is now vilified by the same people. It reminds me too much of the attitude of the Pharisees to Jesus. Jesus said that such people are rich in natural things but not rich towards God.I wonder what Jesus would say if Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor complaints to him about Sheik Gummi. I can imagine Jesus saying to Pastor Oritsejafor and co, go and sale your private planes and expensive cars, give it to the poor and them come and follow me. Jesus taught his disciples that after they have met their basic necessities that they should think of those who have nothing. Jesus is saying that those who are rich towards God do not need to change their Pajero Jeep to Mercedes Jeep or 505 to Mercedes just because they have made more money. Jesus taught his disciples that when those who know him make more money that they do not need to change their modest house into a mansion. He said think of those who have nothing when you make more money. Jesus said, if you can afford a plane ticket to wherever you want to go, you do not need a private jet when millions go without clothing, food, shelter and life changing education.This is the gospel according to sheik Gummi which our Christian leaders hate so much.

I think Sheik Gummi is right. He spoke the truth and there is no need to vilify him. His gospel came directly from the bible. In Exodus Chapter 18 verse 21, Moses was advised to find able men who fear God, men of truth who hate covetousness to appoint them as leaders. Paul in First Timothy chapter 3 verses 2 and 3 reminded the young Timothy that bishop; Christian leaders must not be covetous among other qualities. In second Timothy Chapter 3 verse 2 he told him. In the last days perilous time shalt come and that men would be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful and unholy. These are the sins Sheik Gummi sees when he looks at Christian leaders and it is sad. The bible makes it clear that covetousness disqualifies a person from being a Christian leader and this is what Sheik Gummi was saying. I do not think it should matter that it is Sheik Gummi that pointed it out. Christian leaders should be men who shun ostentatious living and flamboyant life style. Well done Saint Gummi, told them as Nigerians would say.

However, is it not rather strange that when Sheik Gummi looks at Nigeria he sees avarice only in Christian leaders, when the same disease also afflicts our political leaders? It would seem hypocritical to turn a blind eye to the greed and avarice of our politicians which is fuelling corruption in Nigeria when giving a sermon on covetousness and concentrate only on Christian leaders. What has Sheik Gummi said about the criminal remuneration of our politicians? What has Sheik Gummi said about the billions of Naira Northern governors have wasted in ostentatious living while the region is overrun by Almajiris because of Islamic teachings and attitude to women and children? Why is Sheik Gummi not trying to understand that the real reason for Boko Haram is what Islam teaches its adherents and attempt to point the people to what is just, the path of understanding, peace and love? Why has Sheik Gummi not preached against Boko Haram assertion that western education is sin? It is simply naive to say the least, for Nigerian leaders political and religious to ignore the fact that criminality in many societies is related to the, traditions, what the prevalent religions teaches and attitude of the predominant religion to women.

Where a people or country adopts an enlightened attitude towards women, crime is better controlled. However, whenever the attitude to women is what it is in Nigeria as a result of traditions and religion, crime is usually out of control. Wherever a people are free to marry many wives, at whatever ages they want and traditions justify inequality and discrimination of women, such a society cannot develop. This is because criminals often come from large families and large families are often religious families and exists where men because of religion can express their libidinal urges unregulated as supported by Islam. With what Islam teaches about women , its stand on Child marriage and the attitude of the catholic church to contraception; does anybody still wonder why Nigeria is awash with Almajiris, Boko Haram members, kidnappers , armed robbers and corrupt politicians. It will help very much if people like Sheik Gummi are not only motivated my religious interest when they address the ills of the society. He was probably saying to Christian leaders, look at me I live modestly, this is a sign that I am right and you are wrong. If you are really Godís servants you should live modestly. Yes, Sheik Gummi is telling the truth, but it is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He seems to be speaking the truth because it would make his opponents look bad and this is also a sin. God knows our real motives we can only infer it from what people say and how they say it. We also suspect peoples real motives from what the refuse to see or say.

I hope that The saintly Sheik will remember that jesus also warned that he who thinks he stands should take heed, least he falls. I hope He does not have a Child bride, or many wives, supports paedophilia in the name of Islam, or sponsoring Boko Haram because as Jesus would say, you should remove the beam in your eyes before attempting to remove the speck in your brotherís eyes. Thank you Sheik Gummi for reminding Nigerian Christian leaders that they have lost the plot and I hope Sheik Gummi will support my campaign to remove Sharia from the Nigeria constitution so that our senators would not be intimated to vote to legalise evils like child sexual abuse because it is allowed by Sharia.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.