By George Daniya

“If politicians embrace each other like footballers, Nigeria would have to be a much peaceful nation”. I have been reflecting on this statement made last month by the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr Samuel C Uche, when he visited Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, at the Government House, Minna. I tried to draw the analogy between footballers and politicians; in my view, the prelate was right: footballers embrace peace more than the politicians – their gumptions far too apart. While a footballer always believes there is tomorrow, even when he loses a match amidst controversial circumstances, he still embraces the winner and greets the referee. Imagine the referee awards an offside goal to the opponent of a football team, or disallows a legitimate goal; notwithstanding,  footballers at the end of the final whistle will still embrace one another, comfort each other and pray for better results in the next outings. But our politicians will be the ones that would instigate their followers and cause unrest in the society. Dr Uche has called on Nigeria leaders to make sure the country exists as an indivisible entity; he so much cherishes this country.  As a young clergy, then growing up, he said that he spent over 10 years in Kano State and understands what Nigeria is – a country that God has joined together.

Well, the move to start embracing peace commenced with last election. Former president, Dr Good luck Ebele Jonathan, who conceded defeat to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari paved the way for other politicians to emulate his pacifism. But like ex-president Jonathan, are our self-centred politicians ready to concede defeat? The clergyman opined that religion and ethnicity is not the problem of Nigeria, but the politicians, who have hijacked religion for their personal gains to bring down the polity when they fail in elections. He was not happy that people were using religion as an instrument of destruction and disintegration, saying both Islam and Christianity preach unity, and there was no reason why the country should not be united with the two dominant religions in the country. The clergyman used the opportunity to speak to the politicians on the unity of the country, charging the electorate not to allow them to be used as weapons to destroy the unity and peaceful coexistence that the nation has been enjoying.

 Come to think about it; how many sons and daughters of the elected would you see on the streets involved in inordinate expression of violent orgy, just because their parents lost electoral contest? I doubt if you can see any, this is food for thought for all of us. The leader of the Methodist Church believes in equity, justice and level-playing ground. He said only the leaders can make Nigeria exist. What does the prelate mean? Yes, he wants those at the helms of affairs, those who manage elections, to be fair to all, that only when there is a level playing ground would all politicians accept defeat. He condemned hate speeches in all its ramifications, appealing to all clergymen to desist from making sermons and comments capable of causing disunity and disharmony in the country. The prelate just spoke the mind of Governor Bello.Before his visit, the governor had been speaking and condemning hate speeches, speeches that incite the people, not just to cause revolt but disaffection amongst one another. Governor Bello agreed with the prelate; he said that playing politics with religion is playing a dangerous game, and that those doing it must stop.

 According to the governor, as a Muslim, he benefitted from the Catholic school, saying that then you didn’t get to know whowas a Muslim or Christian in the class, there was no segregation. This idyllic situation should be recreated.

LIGHTER NOTE: Dr Uche appealed to the Federal Government to speed up the the dualization of Minna-Abuja Road, saying that it should be done as a mark of respect and honour to two former presidents resident in Minna. He commended the FG for returning to work on the road.