Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has sounded it loud and clear that Nigeria is impossible to be islamised.
“There are certain Muslim extremists who believe that Nigeria must be an Islamic nation (and) Boko Haram is the body that is fronting for this group of persons …” CAN President was quoted as saying.
He was speaking in the United States when he recently met with the country’s House of Represenatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Sub-committee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights.
Pastor Oritsejafor maintained that Nigeria has a very well divided population among the two major religions, Christianity and Islam, so it is not possible to Islamise the country.
The CAN President blamed the continuous attack of the islamist sect, Boko Haram, against Christians on the country’s government and called on the US to officially declare the group a terrorist organization.
Although the US has named some members of the sect as terrorist leaders, it is yet to recognise the entire sect as a terrorist organisation.”This would be the equivalent of designating Bin Laden as a terrorist, but failing to designate al-Qaeda as a terrorist organisation,” Ortisejafor told the committee.
Oritsejafor said that government officials must communicate to the leaders of the Boko Haram sect and prove to them that Nigeria is impossible to Islamise due to its large Christian population, which account for half of the country’s people, according the country’s censuses. “It is important for us to know that the brain behind Boko Haram is an ideology … which comes from clerics. These teachers that promote the ideology of Boko Haram happen to be Islamic teachers and clerics,” Oritsejafor said, according to correspondents.
“What we are saying to our Muslim leader friends in the north is for them to reach out to these clerics to help convince these young men that it’s not possible to Islamise Nigeria,” he added.
However, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, US Assistant Secretary and the representative of President Barack Obama at the committee meeting, said the US must practise discretion when dealing with Boko Haram for fear of retaliation.
“Before we prescribe actions, it is important that we understand what Boko Haram is and what it is not. The truth is that our understanding is limited at best,” Carson told the committee. Fear of retaliation from Boko Haram is on many politicians’ minds. As Carson told the committee, the Islamic sect takes advantage of the country’s poverty and poor infrastructure for attacks. “Boko Haram capitalises on popular frustrations with the nation’s leaders, poor government, ineffective service delivery, and dismal living conditions for many northerners,” Carson told the committee.
Boko Haram has been involved in a series of attacks in Nigeria since 2009, with particularly devastating bomb attacks occurring last Christmas against Christian churches.
The sect has appointed as its leader Abubakar Shekau, regarded as a terrorist by the US. Shekau has released a series of YouTube videos in which he speaks on his goal to serve Islam through the attacks.”I enjoy killing anyone that God commands me to kill – the way I enjoy killing chickens and rams,” Shekau told the camera in a YouTube video published shortly after the group’s violent attack in early 2012 in Kano, in which 180 people were killed.
Oritsejafor concluded his address to the committee by saying that as a Christian leader, he has an obligation to speak about the atrocities happening in his country, and he feels the Nigerian government must take a more active role to stop the violence pulsating through this African country.
“I will tell you their best is not good enough because …allowing churches to be burned and Christians shot at every Sunday for the last month, I don’t think that best is best. I think more should be done,” he said.