Home Opinion I am a northern Christian: Deconstructing Dr Shehu Mahdi on Peter Obi;...

I am a northern Christian: Deconstructing Dr Shehu Mahdi on Peter Obi; By George Barde

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•The video showing Shehu Mahdi’s address to northern Christians

Some people are surprised or even incensed by the familiar rhetorics of Dr Mahdi Shehu, an otherwise eloquent public commentator, who came clean about his franktic desperation and sulk. Shehu Mahdi has been having positive reviews on the national space due to his interventions on national issues, until the trajectory of the apparent loss staring them in the face at the coming Nigerian elections 2023.

Among other things he had said we northern Christians should not vote Peter Obi because there is nothing we shall gain in doing so and after all Peter Obi is a ‘die in the wool’ Biafra agitator. Voting him is voting for Biafra.

To convince us to tow his path of desperation, he used kindergarten examples such as the very sad lies that when Igbos are killing northerners as they often do in Eastern Nigeria, they don’t discriminate between a northern Christian and a northern Muslim. In other words they kill all northernern Nigerians. And that while southern Christians have lands to build churches all over the North, northern Christians could not secure lands to build churches in the south.

This line is not only divisive and mischievous but also infantile, ignorant and amusing. We have EYN, COCIN, ECWA and NKST churches all over the south including Portharcourt and Lagos. Not only do we have our popular northern churches in the South but we even have members and clergy of Southern Nigeria origin. Meanwhile even mosques including iconic ones like the ones in Owerri and Enugu are found all over in the South of Nigeria not to talk of churches. In fact as Christians most northerners basically join a nearby church instead of building one because there is no point. For catholics it is even baseless because the church is universal from my village to Europe.

Assuming but not conceding that his allegations which are obviously ignorant and wild are even true, what makes him think that it will take someone like him full of mischief and vile antics to lecture northern Christians not to foolishly vote Peter Obi?

In case some gullible minority northern Christians who have not gone round this country might believe him, I want to say that as a Christian I feel safer and more at home in southern Nigeria than in northern Nigeria. As a Christian in northern Nigeria, I live in tip toes because I am more a target of hate and murder for my religious beliefs and way of life than anywhere else in Nigeria. I am more likely to be discriminated against among northern Muslims than southern Nigerian public. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Catholic Diocese has escaped a few attempts on his life due to his religious beliefs. Which Christian or Muslim can be more northern than Bishop Kukah? I bet very few.

In Nigeria, you are more likely to die due to your religious identity than tribe so it means Christians be they southerners or northerners have higher risk for death in the North than the South. And the statistics and data cannot even be argued.

Just recently, after the APC and PDP presidential elections primaries, we saw the viral video of a young northern Muslim man who said Tinubu should not even contemplate choosing a northern minority Christian as a running mate because they won’t vote the ticket. He should choose a Muslim running mate to stand the slim chance that he has for their votes because after all his Islam is not Islam enough as a Yoruba. He revealed what they call pliable northern minority politicians: “arnen amana.” ‘Arne’ in Hausa is pagan while ‘amana’ means trustworthiness. So all our big northern Christian politicians especially the prominent ones like Governor Lalong, Babachir Lawal, Boss Mustapha, Yakubu Dogara, Dame Pauline Tallen to mention but a few, in APC and some in PDP for whom we have the greatest deference and honoullr are essentially tolerated for use as “useful idiots.”

The late Sardaunan Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, was known to be more accommodating to all shades of the northern population that was why he was able to unite all northern minorities behind him in NPC (Northern Peoples Congress now defunct) and even convert many of our fathers to Islam (they were referred to as ‘tuban Sardauna’ i.e sardauna converts). These new breed of northern Muslim politicians typified by Buhari, El-Rufai and Mahdi are so intolerant and bigoted.

Shehu Mahdi should be reminded that the northern Christian will rather vote a southern candidate who will guarantee him security instead of a Buhari or an El-Rufai under whom he is killed daily without consequences.

As Shehu Mahdi pretends that we are north before we are Muslims and Christians he should first answer how core northern states like Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna and Borno that used to produce Christian Deputy Governors because of the high number of Christian indigenous minorities no longer have that arrangement simply to bigotry. The recent example is Kaduna despite their large numbers?

Northern Nigerian Christians know that any purchase of a land for the building of a church is likely to have a revoked C of O and purchase agreement. Many of the prominent northern universities and Federal Polytechnics with high number of Christian students and lecturers don’t have permanent sides for their chaplaincy buildings some since 50 years after inception of the schools. This is not because they didn’t ask or that Muslims too don’t have but because they believe and worship differently.

For us in Plateau State, we still remember that our visionary famous Governor Joseph Dechi Gomwalk went to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for technical support to start our own University of Jos and he was declined because Jos-Benue-Plateau must not receive the privilege of western education less they be liberated from the strangle-hold of Muslim elites which they have perfected on their own fellow northern Muslims.

Some of you can now relate to the fact that the all-Muslim ticket of the APC is a climax of the whole disdain and discrimination. Sadly a northern Christian minority with such high standing is the foremost champion of that ticket.

Sometimes I have had cause to thank God for the missionaries who brought us education. Northern minority Christians would have been working as slaves on farms owned by Muslims as bandits now enforce on people in Zamfara and other parts of the North. The only reason this is not happening is because we have been educated which has enabled us to know our rights even when they are not respected enough.

The people of Southern Kaduna, indigenous Christians in Katsina and Kebbi including Niger, Gombe, Yobe Borno and Adamawa and to some extent Nassarawa states know that they are barely tolerated because the discrimination based on religious identity is so glaring and unbelievable. Even southern Nigerians especially those who are in politics, civil and paramilitary services, any of the armed forces divisions and corporate world would have easily seen at the larger national stage how an average northern Muslim can be so bigoted. That is why whether they are competent or not they are hired because as one popular Imam in Sokoto said recently in warning for his Muslim congregation not vote for competence at the coming elections; “a bad Muslim is better than a good Christian”.

Yoruba Muslims and the sprinkles from other southern groups know that they are not Muslim enough for an average northern Muslim. Here in Jos neighbourhoods are according to religious belief and Yoruba Muslims feel safer in Christian neighbouprhoods than among their fellow northern Muslim counterparts. During our many religious crises in Jos which are products of hate preaching, Yoruba Muslims are killed alongside any unfortunate Christians and their property looted. That is why Bola Tinubu is actually on his own in this election so far as Atiku is on the ballot. They have scammed him and the Yoruba who believe in ’emi lo kan’ and omo luabi. The PDP know that ignoring the Christians in the North is an expensive gamble. The cost is obvious to the APC already. The gain has gone to the man of true and impeccable character, different breed, incorruptible, compassionate, and humble with no airs of superiority and condescension as we have seen with the other candidates who feel entitled or important enough.

Don’t be deceived. Minority Christians in Gombe South, Borno South, Kaduna South, Yobe, Kebbi, Katsina all over Adamawa and Niger, overwhelmingly in Taraba, Nassarawa, Benue, Plateau and Kogi with a combined voting power of about 15 million will vote in obedience to God for competence and incorruptibility because they have been the greatest victims of the Buhari tragedy.

The gale of defections from APC to PDP in northern Nigeria is a pointer that Tinubu of APC is on his own. Part of the mission of Shehu Mahdi and his ilks is to galvanise the Christian minority votes of 15 million for Atiku in the name of ‘One North’ but sadly for him the myth has been broken and the APC, thanks to Buhari and their all-Muslim presidential ticket, have nailed the coffin. Even my Governor Lalong who is their campaign DG knows that it is an impossible mission around here, but perhaps it is a lucrative opportunity so he can tag along. Those like Babachir and Senator Abbo and Dogara etc know exactly that even their own personal tickets are at risk if they campaign for Tinubu after the insolence of a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a national party during a national election. By now it is obvious even to the blind that the Christians in northern Nigeria have woken up from their naive slumber that is why Shehu Mahdi is raising the propaganda bar. If not because he does not rate us, they should as usual have paid another ‘useful idiot’ from us the northern Christians to play that sound bite from Mahdi and who knows perhaps the reaction might have been different. Perhaps they didn’t get any rated ‘useful idiot’ because all the reasonable ones have become Obidient.

Indeed Christianity is a religion of obedience which is better than sacrifice. We shall be Obidient kawai.

Actually people like Mahdi are either leaving in denial or delusion. Onitsha is safer for me than Zaria. I was in Zaria a few years ago for a program. I went out to see the city with a few friends after our meeting and I could not help but feel unsafe in the exclusive and predominant Muslim neighborhoods. I was proved right at the first hangout we patronized because immediatelly we ordered for drinks and asked for wine, the attendant literally chased us out and we had to run for our dear lives because the atmosphere became hostile. Ironically, the hideout we got wine and other stuff we prefer had a good number of Muslims who came to relax as well drinking the very wine the other hangout guys excoriated us for.

In this age and time I feel really sorry for myself and many other people that Shehu Mahdi would talk to us in this manner. It would seem that he believes there is a scale and a wool over our faces we the northern Christians that makes us so vulnerable and predictable.

It is true that we used to be so predictable. Once money is involved, our fellow minority Christian politicians sell us for as little as a mess of pottage.

But I am more surprised that people are surprised. Shehu Mahdi is more honest than the many hypocrites among northern Nigerian politicians including so-called Christians whose standing is not known about the election due to their fluidity on important national issues all for economic and political capital.

The only sad part is that he represents or supports a very big hypocrite in the person of Atiku Abubakar who recently disowned his tweet condemning the gruesome and most barbaric murder of Deborah, a student murdered by her fellow students right there within the school premises all to avoid the backlash from his Muslim northern supporters who were already threatening not to vote him for daring to condemn the murder. He deleted that tweet and supported the killing of Deborah in exchange for votes from blood suckers. He is an enabler!

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