By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has debunked insinuations that Nigerian Christians were the main targets of the Boko Haram insurgents’ attacks disclosing that ninety percent of their victims were Muslims.
The President made this disclosure yesterday in an opinion he authored and published in Speaking Out, a Guest Opinion column for Christianity Today. The opinion article was titled ‘Buhari: Pastor Andimi’s Faith Should Inspire All Nigerians’.
The President, who commended the beheaded Michika Local Government Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Lawan Andimi, for his steadfastness in his faith till the end, debunked claims that Christians are under threats in the country.
Contrarily, the President observed that Christianity is growing and expanding currently approaching half of the nation’s 2 million population.
He said “Christianity in Nigeria is not—as some seem intent on believing—contracting under pressure, but expanding and growing in numbers approaching half of our population today. Nor is it the case that Boko Haram is primarily targeting Christians: not all of the Chibok schoolgirls were Christians; some were Muslims, and were so at the point at which they were taken by the terrorists. Indeed, it is the reality that some 90 per cent of all Boko Haram’s victims have been Muslims: they include a copycat abduction of over 100 Muslim schoolgirls, along with their single Christian classmate; shootings inside mosques; and the murder of two prominent imams. Perhaps it makes for a better story should these truths, and more, be ignored in the telling.”
According to him, the insurgents have been weakened following the consistent assaults on them by the troops in collaboration with Nigeria’s foreign partners. He noted that they are now attacking soft targets
He wrote “It is a simple fact that these now-failing terrorists have targeted the vulnerable, the religious, the non-religious, the young, and the old without discrimination. And at this point, when they are fractured, we cannot allow them to divide good Christians and good Muslims from those things that bind us all in the sight of God: faith, family, forgiveness, fidelity, and friendship to each other.”
The President maintained that since the insurgents have failed in their bid, they have resolved to sow seeds of distrusts between Christians and Muslims in the country.
“Yet sadly, there is a tiny, if vocal, minority of religious leaders—both Muslim and Christian—who appear more than prepared to take their bait and blame the opposite religious side. The terrorists today attempt to build invisible walls between us. They have failed in their territorial ambitions, so now instead they seek to divide our state of mind, by prying us from one from another—to set one religion seemingly implacably against the other,” the President wrote.
While stating that even though he never knew the late pastor beheaded by the Boko Haramists, he was aware of his church by their works: healing, caring, feeding and educating, particularly in the northeastern regions of my country—in those areas threatened for too long by terrorists. “Every day, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) places itself there bravely where the brotherhood of man is most in need of sustenance,” he wrote.