by Bayo Adeyinka
I wrote this article on Dec 27, 2011. Since then, I don’t think much has changed. The Chibok girls have spent over 100 days in captivity and still counting. One of the major police training colleges has been over-run by Boko Haram and taken over with little resistance by the military. Thousands of Nigerians have become refugees in their own country and neighboring Cameroun. And now the breaking news that Abubakar Shekau has declared an ‘Islamic Caliphate’ in the areas he’s cordoned in the North East.
Originally titled MY CHRISTMAS SERMON TO MR PRESIDENT, I find it still relevant for our situation today. Please read on – unedited:
Our text today will be taken from the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelations, Chapter 21 and verse 8. If I may give this sermon a title, I will call it COWARDS WILL NOT GO TO HEAVEN. Before I am accused of blasphemy, please let us read from the New Living Translation of our text.
I read, ‘But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars — their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death’.
Dear Mr President, I am sure you are shocked that the very first set of tenants of hell are cowards. I was also pleasantly shocked when I discovered that part of Scriptures. I am also amazed that cowards will get the visa to hell even before corrupt people and murderers. Does God hate cowards that much? What will make cowards burn in hell far before some notable corrupt acolytes of yours like Bank omo Ole and Jamisi Alabase (the one that likes eja Abori)?
Just in case you doubt this version of the Bible, I will like to read it to you from the Aramaic Bible In Plain English as follows: ”But to the timid, the unbelievers, the evil, the defiled, murderers, sorcerers, fornicators, idol worshipers and all liars: their part is in the burning Lake of Fire and Brimstone, which is the second death.”
There you have the word ‘timid’. Can we then consider the dictionary definition of ‘cowardice’? One dictionary defines it as ‘lack of courage in facing danger’. I also found some synonyms such as ‘lily-livered’, ‘cold-feet’, ‘invertebracy’, ‘pussilanimity’, ‘wimp’, ‘chicken’, ‘spinelessness’ and ‘yellow belly’. These are names no right thinking person and most especially a leader of 150 million people would want to be called.
I wish to quote very widely from Wikipedia if you permit me: ”Cowardice is the perceived failure to demonstrate sufficient mental robustness and courage in the face of a challenge. Under many military codes of justice, cowardice in the face of combat is a crime punishable by death. The term describes a personality trait which is viewed as a negative characteristic and has been shunned and disdained within most, if not all cultures, while courage, typically viewed as its direct opposite, is generally rewarded and encouraged. Cowards are usually seen to have avoided or refused to engage in a confrontation or struggle which has been deemed good or righteous by the wider culture in which they live. On a more mundane level, the label may be applied to those who are regarded as too frightened or overwhelmed to defend their rights or those of others from aggressors in their lives.”
Mr President, I have gone to this length because your inaction in containing the Boko Haram threat and the spate of insecurity all over the nation are acts of cowardice. You have simply refused to rise up to the occasion. Apart from dishing out plain and almost predictable press statements to the effect that the ‘perpetrators will be brought to book’, no other action shows that you are serious about hunting down the aggressors. Or do we believe that you are of the same mind with one of your godfathers, Ebenezer Babatope, who said that ‘this Boko Haram threat will also blow away like the Maitatsine riots of the 80s’? As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, you have failed the nation in one of your core responsibilities.
With the Christmas day bombing carried out in 3 separate locations around the country under your watch and your response in the aftermath, it shows you either lack the mental disposition normally associated with this high Office or you are too unperturbed. In this passing year 2011, hundreds of innocent citizens have been dispatched to the great beyond and no progress has been made in confronting this menace. I looked at some pictures in horror earlier today of victims blown apart by suicide bombers. My heart was torn apart when I saw that of the little child with the head ripped apart by the bomb. Mr President, did you see that picture? Do you imagine for one second that the victim could be your child? In fact, figuratively speaking, the victim is your child because you are the father of the nation. Will a father then refuse to defend his children and wring his hands helplessly in the face of danger? What kind of father are you?
I would have expected you to dish out standing instructions to your Inspector General of Police and the Defence Chiefs in the same way IBB asked IG Etim-Inyang during the days of Anini a la ‘My friend, where is Anini? I give you 30 days to produce him’. IBB asked Etim-Inyang right in front of video camera and it was shown for all to see on NTA. You know the rest of the story. If I can teach you your job, your Defence Chiefs should be out of jobs in 30 days if they fail to quell this insurrection. Your IG should lose his shirt. The National Security Adviser should be redeployed to the Ministry of Agriculture to attend to chickens. The Director of SSS should be summarily dismissed.
For you Mr President, you should relocate from the comfort of Abuja to the epicentre of the crisis, Maiduguri. That is when the whole country will know that you are serious about confronting this terrorist group. By the way, have you ever visited Maiduguri, Yobe, Damaturu or Bauchi to personally inspect the places attacked? I remember even George Bush, Obama and lately David Cameron visited Iraq in the midst of war. But then I digress.
Why does God hate cowards so much? It is simply because they stand for nothing. They are afraid of confrontation and will never want to destabilise the status quo once their own position is selfishly guaranteed. Cowards can’t fight for their rights and don’t defend others. Cowards are guilty of the sin of inaction. Cowards lack the conviction of their own character. Cowards love their lives so much that they are unwilling to lose it. Cowards don’t stand for anything and therefore can bow to anything. Cowards always look for the easiest way out- in fact cowards will rather prefer to wish problems away. Looking at our text in Rev 21:8, cowards will do anything including corruption, idolatry, immorality, idol-worship and top it up with lying all so much as to remain safe and cling to power.
I wish to bring this sermon to a close by reminding you of some quotes from some great minds. George Jackson said ‘Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice’. George Patton said, ‘The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood’. Andrew Still wrote’ Of what value is a mind when placed in the brain of a coward? If mind is a gift of God to man for his use, let him use it. A mind is not in use when doing no good’. There is also a popular Yoruba proverb that says ‘ Mi o le wa ku, kii joye ile baba re’ literally translated to mean that a man who is afraid of death is not fit to inherit the throne of his ancestors or claim the rights of his forbears’.
Finally, I am not sure Dame Patience Jonathan will love to hear this quote by Dolores Ibarruri, ‘It is better to be the widow of a hero than the wife of a coward’.
Let somebody shout Halleluyah!