Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has warned the Northern Nigerian Christian community that they, “must work as one, tolerate one another and unite for common interest because without unity among ourselves, we cannot achieve anything and move forward.”
Gowon was speaking at the inauguration of a new Christian organisation, the Congress of Northern Nigeria Christians (CNNC) on 11 November in Kaduna.
Gowon, who is the convener of Nigeria Prays, an organisation committed to prayers for the country every year, expressed his worry over the attitude among Christians whereby they lay too much emphasis on their denominational differences instead of striving to work together as one body.
Adamu Baikie, the chairman of the new organisation, explained that they were inspired by a desire to unite the Christians in Northern Nigeria in coformity with the injunction of scripture which says: “That they all may be one”.
Christians in northern Nigeria have been persecuted exponentially since the independence of Nigeria in 1960. Military dictators who ruled the country and most of whom were Muslims enhanced Islamisation policies, programmes and projects to the detriment of churches and Christian institutions, according to the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, challenged Christians in Northern to speak with one voice on issues affecting their collective well-being in the country. “The problem among Christians in the North is lack of unity. Where is the love for God and humanity to make others serve God.” Dogara said.
Baikie explained that the organisation is not a political nor a front for any political party. “We shall also resist any attempt to clandestinely use the platform of the congress to promote the political interests of any individual or group of individuals,” he said.
The new organisation will be ”committed to creating awareness among northern Nigerian Christians to stand firm against every form of violence, discrimination, and intimidation being meted out to any citizen of this country, above all, work towards the unity and indivisibility of the Nigerian state.” He said. “We are not unmindful of the fact that there are other organisations or religious associations that abound in the country, the north in particular. We have no desire to whatsoever to undermine their efforts or obliterate their very existence” Baikie explained.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, Global Christian News and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.
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