Forgotten Covenant; between Muslims & Christians

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

There is an overwhelming need to improve inter-communal harmony that has become so toxic in our dear nation. Religious hatred is a mainly product of ignorance and mischief. Both sides of the divide are very much guilty particularly against the background of political grandstanding. We currently live in tumultuous times. The ravages of the Coronavirus pandemic is no respecter for religious difference. Its economic fallout will not spare anyone while the political will be all encompassing irrespective. We therefore need a bird’s eye view on issues to pull through.

I asked the first Israeli I ever met, why the dickens Jews and Arabs in that highly combustible nation haven’t been able to work out an acceptable peace agreement between them for decades? She replied that the problem wasn’t actually religious as I had presumed but more about international power play, control and manipulation of spheres of influence as such it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to resolve the fundamental issues between them due to the various conflicting interests beyond their borders.

I still find my conversation with that secular Jewess in far away Singapore 31 years ago instructive as far as Nigeria is concerned Najran is the capital of the a southern administrative division of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of the same name. Before 1902 there were 4 monarchical Sheikhs of 4 regions which Abdulaziz Al Saud of Nejd emerged superior and became overall King in 1932 up to 1953. All subsequent monarchs in Saudi Arabia to date are among his 36 sons that survived him based on seniority.

I first heard about the Pact of Najran through my good friend Ahmad Ramadan, a extremely brilliant legal mind who back in the mid 1990s was a practitioner at the chambers of Aliyu Umar Esq, later Aliyu Umar SAN now of blessed memory.

On the al-Masīḥiyyūn al-ʿArab in the historical Arabian Peninsula the background narrative is; “The visit of the Christians of Najran to the city of Medina in 631 is perhaps the most important noted interfaith interaction between Christians and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). At this time Muhammad (pbuh) had sent letters to different communities and their leaders, encouraging them to embrace Islam. In the case of the Najran, who lived near Yemen, about 450 miles south of Medina, the Prophet sent Khaled ibn al-Walid and Ali ibn Abi Talib to deliver the letter.

At the time of this diplomatic endeavor, Najran Christians had a highly organized religious system. As such, after considering Muhammad’s (pbuh) letter, it is unsurprising that few Christians embraced Islam. In reaction to this “failed attempt” of conversion, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) sent another representative to Najran, Mughira Ibn Shu’ba, who was meant to elaborate on this new religion called Islam. Intrigued by Ibn Shu’ba’s message, the Najran Christians sent a delegation of sixty people to visit the Prophet in Medina. The delegation consisted of about forty-five scholars and fifteen assistants.

When the Christians of Najran arrived to Medina, Muhammad allowed them to pray in Nabawi mosque where the Muslims also prayed. This invitation was not only the first example of Christian-Muslim dialogue, but it was the first time that Christians prayed in a mosque. While Prophet Muhammad and the Najrans were not able to reach common ground on all theological issues, he nonetheless gave them a place to stay near his home, and even ordered Muslims to pitch their tent.
Upon leaving Medina, the Najran Christian leaders told Muhammad (pbuh):

“O, Abu al-Qasim, we decided to leave you as you are and you leave us as we are”. But the Christians nevertheless left Medina with a pact (written guarantee) that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would protect their lives, property, and freedom to practice Christianity.”
No doubt the visit of Najran Christians to Medina is an example of religious pluralism. If so why are Al – Mu’minin (Muslims) and Ahl – al – Kitab (Christians) so historically daggers drawn? There is need to highlight the Pact of Najran;
“I hereby declare that my horsemen, my foot-soldiers, my armies, my resources, and my Muslim partisans will protect the Christians as far away as they may be located, whether they inhabit the lands which border my state, in any region, close or far, in times of peace as much as in times of war. I commit myself to support them, to place their persons under my protection, as well as their churches, chapels, oratories, the monasteries of their monks, the residences of their anchorites wherever they are found, be they in the mountains or the valleys, caves or inhabited regions, in the plains or in the desert.
I will protect their religion and their Church wherever they are found, be it on earth or at sea, in the West or in the East, with utmost vigilance on my part, the People of my House, and the Muslims as a whole.
I place them under my protection. I make a pact with them. I commit myself to protect them from any harm or damage; to exempt them for any requisitions or any onerous obligations and to protect them myself, by means of my assistants, my followers and my nation against every enemy who targets me and them”

Agreed there is controversy over the applicability of the he Pact of Najran beyond that specific Christian community the treaty was sealed with. Understandably, through the eras of the Abbasids, Fatimids, Ayyubids, Mamluks, Safavids, and so on Ottomans right down to the Maliki revival of Sheikh Othman Dan Fodio a lot of water has passed under the bridge, lest I forget the intervening Crusades that spanned 175 years from 1096 – 1271.

We however have a monumental reference point in our own clime in the groundbreaking letter written by Shehu al- Hajj Muhammad al – Amin al – Kanemi (1776 -1837) on the 23rd day of Rabee-ul-thani, 1238 AH to the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Bello (1781 – 1837) who was Amir al – Mu’minin, Commander of the Faithful from 1814 -1836. After the usual polite and often flowering greetings, felicitations and best wishes the Shehu of Borno that was born in Murzuk, in present day Libya stated;

“Hence, the cause of writing this letter and the purpose of its lines, is to acquaint you that the bearers are English travelers; whose nation, out of all the other Christians, has maintained with the Mooslemeen uninterrupted treaties of religious amity and friendship, established since ancient periods, which they inherited from their forefathers and ancestors; and on this account, they penetrate into Mooslemeen countries whenever they please, and traverse all provinces and lands in confidence and trust, without fear. They came to our country, sent to us by our virtuous and accomplished friend, the Lord Yousuf Pasha, master of Tripoli, to see and delight themselves with the wonders of the Land of Soodan, and to become acquainted with its rarities, as lakes, rivers, and forests (or gardens) ; equal to which are seldom seen in other countries.”
The accomplished cleric and sovereign of the Borno empire that was of Kanembu ancestry of present day Tchad who upstaged the Sefuwa dynasty with its former capital in today’s Yobe state, ruled from Kukawa which he founded in 1814. Maiduguri was later established around Yerwa by the Ngadda River in 1907 after a treaty with the Germans, French and British.

He continued;
“You are well aware of what is stated in Alcoraanic sayings upon the subject of the observance of honour, dictated by our Lord, the Apostle of God; and that the true Mooslemeen have always avoided shedding the blood of Christians, and assisted and protected them with their honour. Be then attentive to these travelers, and cast them not into the corners of neglect; let no one hurt them, either by words or deeds, nor interrupt them with any injurious behavior: but let them return to us, safe, and may the high God bestow upon you the best reward for your treatment to them, and insure to us and to you the path of righteousness for conduct in this life.”

For me this iconic attestation that accompanied the English explorers Major Dixon Denham and Royal Navy Commander Hugh Clapperton from Kukawa to Sokoto in January, 1824 is sufficient proof of the historical covenant between Muslims and Christians before even Nigeria was crafted into being a nation. It is on that foundation laid 196 years ago we must build a new Nigeria!

In any case the conclusion of the Pact of Najran emphasized;
“Christians must not be subjected to suffer, by abuse, on the subject of marriages which they do not desire. Muslims should not take Christian girls in marriage against the will of their parents nor should they oppress their families in the event that they refused their offers of engagement and marriage. Such marriages should not take place without their desire and agreement and without their approval and consent. If a Muslim takes a Christian woman as a wife, he must respect her Christian beliefs. He will give her freedom to listen to her [clerical] superiors as she desires and to follow the path of her own religion.”

In conclusion; You don’t have to be Hindu to enjoy Indian films or an Inca to watch Telenovelas or indeed worship Shinto to drive a Honda or Toyota neither have no religion to patronize any Chinese product nor be a Korean Buddhist to use any Samsung or be an agnostic to admire Nelson Mandela. Must you own an iPhone or any Apple product if like Steve Jobs that produced them you don’t subscribe to any particular religion?

Less 48 hours or so ago America despite its present health pandemic and economic woes launched a space mission called Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover; “That will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance the quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars” – yet here we are in Nigeria still dividing ourselves over religion!

DID YOU KNOW THESE THINGS HAD NAMES?


The space between your eyebrows is called a glabella


The way it smells after the rain is called petrichor.




The plastic or metallic coating at the end of your shoelaces is called an aglet.





The rumbling of stomach is actually called a wamble.






The cry of a new born baby is called a vagitus.





The prongs on a fork are called tines.




The sheen or light that you see when you close your eyes and press your hands on them is called phosphenes.



The tiny plastic table placed in the middle of a pizza box is called a box tent.




The day after tomorrow is called overmorrow.




Your tiny toe or finger is called minimus.



The wired cage that holds the cork in a bottle of champagne is called an agraffe.





The ‘na na na’ and ‘la la la’, which don’t really have any meaning in the lyrics of any song, are called vocables.




When you combine an exclamation mark with a question mark (like this ?!), it is referred to as an interrobang.



The space between your nostrils is called columella nasi


The armhole in clothes, where the sleeves are sewn, is called armscye.


The condition of finding it difficult to get out of the bed in the morning is called dysania.


Unreadable hand -writing is called griffonage.

The dot over an “i” or a “j” is called tittle.



That utterly sick feeling you get after eating or drinking too much is called crapulence.

The metallic device used to measure your feet at the shoe store is called Bannock device.

The Awesome Power of Forgiveness

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

I have just finished watching a BBC documentary that featured the attached family (L-R) Rizqy Setiawan, Iwan Setiawan and Sarah Setiawan flanking Ahmad Hassan (2nd from L) Iwan is the father of Rizqy and Sarah.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Hassan is on death row. He was one of the conspirators of a bomb attack that killed Iwan’s wife, the mother of Rizqy and Sarah. The program put together by the maverick BBC reporter Rebecca Henschke was such a profound experience for me. It is a poignant reminder that the best way to fight against evil is through forgiveness. As Abraham Lincoln famously asked;

“Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends?”

“Setiawan was on his motorbike, speeding past the Australian embassy in Jakarta. His mind was on his wife, whose arms were around his chest and whose pregnant belly he could feel pressing against his back. Their second child was due within weeks and they were on their way to hospital for a check-up. Suddenly there was this incredibly loud sound and we were thrown into the air,” he remembers. Iwan didn’t know till much later that it was a suicide bomb, planted by a militant group a responsible for a series of attacks in Indonesia, including the Bali bombing in 2002 that killed 202 people from around the world. “I saw blood. Lots of blood. Metal went flying into one of my eyes, destroying it. His wife was thrown from the bike, landing metres away. Both were rushed to hospital and, in a state of shock, a badly injured Halila Seroja Daulay went into labour.

She was rushed into the operating room after getting contractions. But praise be to Allah, somehow she was still able to give birth naturally,” Iwan says. That night Rizqy was born. His name means “blessing”
According to Setiawan “I lost my best friend, my soul mate, the person who completed me. It’s so painful to talk about it,”. At first, he was filled with a desire for revenge. “I wanted the arrested conspirators to die, but I didn’t want them to die quickly,” he says. “I wanted them to be tortured first. I wanted their skin to be cut and salt put in the wounds so that they had some idea of the pain their bombing caused, both physically and mentally. My children and I have struggled so incredibly hard just to keep living.”

The car bomb attack that killed Mrs Setiawan went off at 10.30 am Jakarta time on September 9, 2004. It killed the suicide bomber that triggered it, 8 others, injured 150 and destroyed not just the Australian embassy but that of Greece and China shattering glass windows up to half a kilometer away. 6 persons were eventually arrested and sentenced to death. They are currently cooling off their heels in a maximum security prison on a jungle covered island that the surviving Setiawan family members met Ahmad Hassan including the mastermind of the bomb attack Darmawan Munto Rois. Setiawan senior had all previously met them before bringing his children along. Who by way of introduction started;
“I have invited my children to meet you, I want them to understand too why you did the bombing that killed their mother and caused me to lose one of my eyes. They have to know because they lost their mother when they were so young” Ahmad Hassan nods solemnly and replies;
“I never wanted to hurt your father, he just happened to be passing by, and my friend who was carrying the bomb blew it up at that time. I hope that you, the children of Iwan, can forgive me.” His voice starts to break.

“I am a flawed human. I have made many mistakes. My friends and I were given the wrong education and learning. I wish that we hadn’t acted before we had really gained knowledge and understood what we were doing,” he continued.
Sarah summons up courage and says; “I would always ask my dad when I was little, ‘Where is my mum?’ and he told me she was at Allah’s house. I asked where that was, and he said it was the mosque. So I ran away to the mosque. My grandmother was looking for me, and when she found me I told her that I was waiting for my mum. I was waiting for my mum to come home. But she has never come home.”

“Hassan closes his eyes and opens his hands in prayer. Over and over he mumbles a prayer seeking forgiveness from Allah. “Allah wanted me to have to meet you and be forced to try and explain,” he finally manages to say. “But I can’t explain to you my child, I am sorry. “I can’t hold back my tears. I take Sarah as my own child. Please, please forgive me. It’s in your hands.” Everyone in this tiny room is crying – except the mastermind and financier of the bomb attack who on his part stated; “I have a child, too. I haven’t seen my wife or child for years. I really miss them. I am even worse off than you. You’re still with your children. My child doesn’t even know me.” Darmawan continued “I didn’t do what they said I did. Why did I admit to it? Maybe when you are older you will understand” he said directly to the Setiawan children but added

“All humans have made mistakes. If I have wronged you in any way I apologise. I feel pain. I really do”

The entire meeting is part of a De-radicalisation program by the Indonesian government that brings captured terrorists and their victims face to face many of which have found healing and moved on with their lives without bitterness. Quite a number of the terrorists have also recanted because they are kept in isolation. Without their death sentences carried out and group solidarity they break down. Can the same template be applied in Nigeria? Will one day Shekau pose for a photograph holding hands with the Sharibu family? Are terrorists not actually pawns on a chessboard they neither understand nor have real control over? Truth is the real terrorist grandmasters never blow up themselves or get in any harms way.

They always pose as good guys because terrorism is the continuation of politics by other means. That not withstanding there is power in forgiveness.

The various aftermaths of the Nigerian Civil War during the Oil Boom 70s, the emergence of a Rainbow Nation after dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa and the current soaring of Rwanda after the Hutu genocide against Tutsis are all examples of that awesome power.

Making Coffee or Tea

I love this analogy!

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

“Because someone bumped into me!!!”

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.

So we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?”

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

Life provides the cup, YOU choose how to fill it.

Today let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others.

CONVID 19: Nigerian Earthly Gods are not to be blamed.

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe


Or are the Wailers are not to Blamed instead?

I am glad that the Presidency has decided to reject the call by the National Assembly for a national broadcast on Covid-19. Can you imagine; have they forgotten they are a rubber stamp parliament?

Hmm…somebody should remind them that, “Until the rotten tooth is pulled out, the mouth should chew with caution.” Besides didn’t the “National Leader” of our great Kutuje party recently claim the issue is actually 2023 virus? Anyway Malam Garba Shehu sorry; Alaka, has rightly replied those enemies of progress by emphasizing, “These are not the times for populism and cheap politics.”

Nigerians must learn to respect Baba Fakunle’s privacy so that he can cool his “hotness of a gorilla” in the other room. Anybody that needs to be addressed should tune to CNN and watch Donald Trump. Those calling on Mr. President to address the nation should not forget that; “A chicken eats corn, drinks water, swallows pebbles, yet she complains of having no teeth. If she had teeth, would she eat gold? Let her ask the cow who has teeth yet eats grass!”
This is Nigeria where our leaders should address us only during political campaigns. The Next Level is about peace and quiet before Adetusa’s retirement. Our government is not to be disturbed by you disobedient Gbonkas with petty matters as we are currently focused on repairing the PDP damage of 16 years which shall be carrying out indefinitely. After all we have already achieved national sufficiency in local rice production; what else do you ingrates of Ikolu want again?
With a price reduction of N20 from every liter of PMS it is Danfo drivers and luxurious bus operators that you Ijekun people should compel to reduce transport fares not us. We have done our best under the circumstances for you people that are beginning to behave like Aderopo. If you think because you voted for us you want to make noise don’t forget there is nothing independent about INEC. “Is it not ignorance that makes the rat attack the cat?” Any petrol dealer in spite of old stock bought at the former price must now sell at the new price. That is the defination of patriotism. This government is ever ready to close the shop so that we can chase treasury looters. You think e easy with corruption fighting back? “Because the farm-owner is slow to catch the thief, the thief calls the farm-owner thief!” Therefore any Odewale that feels too strongly about Covid-19 should send in photographs of suspected cases for perusal like the Lagos governor did with the aftermath of the recent pipeline explosion at Abule Ado. Does the Aso Rock Villa look like NAFDAC office or Center for Disease Control? If anybody coughs simply tell the person – Bless you! Or sacrifice rams to the gods. Sacrifice did you say? Perhaps to “Soponna the god the poxes or even Sango the god of thunder and rainfall” So shut up and “boil lemongrass, tea bush and some limeskins including dogonyaro leaves” then isolate yourselves – “when rain falls on the leopard does it wash off its spots?”

If body scratch you eat local rice! So please you Haters should carry your Coronavirus talk far away from us or we quarantine you with Ogundele the hunter. We have urgent matters of state to attend to like making sure the esteemed chairman of our party, Comrade Akilapa with diamond buttons on his safari is not humiliated out of office by saboteurs from where 3 footpaths meet – nearer to Ede than to Ilorin. So no national broadcast on Covid-19 for you. “Let no one stop us and no one come with us or we shall curse them…..When the wood-insect gathers sticks on its own head it carries them” Is it because there is power you want to see broadcast?

Wait till we return DISCO to power holding then your eye will clear. If you vex go and vote for Atiku in 2023. This is not a play!



FINAL WORD

There Was An Anthem

I miss the old Nigerian national anthem & I can’t help thinking this is one of the areas we Nigerians, started to get it horribly wrong, when we started to deemphasize national unity, interests & aspirations, to make more prominent sectional & individual interests. Our swap in anthems spoke volumes.

Don’t take my word for it, compare your self.

Old Nigerian National Anthem;

Nigeria we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood we stand,
Nigerians all, are proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.

Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honour’d,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.

O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.

Compare with…

New Nigerian National Anthem;

Arise, O compatriots
Nigeria’s call obey
to serve our fatherland
with love and strength and faith.
The labour of our heroes past
shall never be in vain,
to serve with heart and might
one nation bound in freedom
Peace and unity.

O God of creation,
direct our noble cause
Guide thou our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace
And justice shall reign

I rest my case….

MY SECRET SIN

Anonymous author

That Friday night, I was supposed to be in the vigil leading the worship song but there I was in Fred’s bed moaning in painful pleasure as he cuddled and caressed me.

Being the choir mistress, I was the one to take the worship songs that night but I manoeuvred my way to his home.

“Can we go another round?” Fred asked teasingly.

“You don’t get tired? Oliver Twist,” I said staring at the wall clock. It was few minutes before 1 a.m.

“I need to join them in the church,” I said uncovering myself from the bedsheets and hurriedly picked up my dress from the floor.

“It’s already late and dangerous out there. Just pass the night here again please.”

“Akuna! It’s better late than never. Don’t forget, I’m the one taking the worship.”

“Do you want to get raped out there? The one I gave you is not enough for you, right?” he asked mockingly as he sat upright on his bed placing a pillow on his laps to hide his erected stuff.

“I won’t get raped because we are going together. Dress up please.”

“Have you gone insane?” he giggled. “I just finished feasting with the devil and you expect me to go to the presence of God? Come on babe, I still have conscience.”

“What are you insinuating? Are you saying I don’t have conscience? Thank you for reminding me that I’m Jezebel.” I said trying to ease the guilt.

I hurriedly picked my Bible and my scarf from the floor and dashed out of the room.

“Onyeche, wait let me see you off,” I heard his voice from a distance.

That was not the first night I spent in his house in the name of vigil, neither was it the second nor third.

You may think that was the worst thing I have done. No, I did worse than that. I aborted two babies for Fred, the assistant prayer band leader who was always leading the prayer section.

My father who was a well thought of elder in the church was glad that her daughter was burning for God.

I was not just deceiving my father, I was deceiving the members of the church, I was deceiving the pastor whose favourite I was.

Never had he ministered without me acting as the backup singer. He trusted and believed so much in me. And above all, I was deceiving myself as my self-worth was dwindling.

When I got to the church, Agnes was still leading the praise section.

It seemed she was stylishly waiting for my arrival to take the worship section as I was considered to be the most fire-branded member of the church.

As the choir mistress, I was supposed to be seated at the front seat, but I sat behind so that my incoming would not be noticed.

I glanced through the pulpit, the pastor’s gaze was on me and I trembled within as he signaled an invitation.

“Onyeche, what happened?” he asked affectionately.

“Daddy I slept off,” I lied kneeling beside him without any iota of the fear of God.
“I wanted to rest before time but when I woke up, it was already very late. I told myself that it’s better late than never.”

“I know you ‘ll come regardless what. Thank you,” he said smiling and patting me on my shoulder. “Hope you are prepared.”
“I’m always prepared daddy.”

Right at the pulpit I was confidently lying to the man of God. Yet, unlike the days of Peter, there was no discernment, I would have fallen dead like Ananias and Sapphira but there, I was being praised.

Like the pastor’s praise was not enough, when I climbed the podium, I was welcomed with a standing ovation by the congregation. They yelled and shouted my name. Others jumped to their feet shouting and clapping. My head was becoming larger like I was sharing the glory of God with him, that’s if I did not steal it all. Had they known that I just left Delilah’s lap, or maybe I was even the Delilah. Had they known I just left the dungeon of sin, just like the lady of Magdalene, they would have picked up stone.

I struck the mic with a finger and the sound was pleasant to my hearing.

“Alleluuuuuuuia!” I shouted into the mic, stressing my word and the crowd yelled even louder.

“Can we just compose ourselves as we worship the El shaddai, the Elohim, The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the I am that I am, mandalekatushaldaba,” I burst into tongue. “The Bible says, God is a Spirit and they that must worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

As I was trying to elate the crowd, I saw Fred enter the church. Well built, muscular and light in complexion. Like the Biblical Joseph, very handsome and good to behold. I still doubt if I were the only one in the church he was having an affair with. Many of those young girls flopped around him calling him papa and M.O.G.

He was also very much adored and loved in the church because of his activeness yet, my partner in sin.

“Close your eyes and lift up your hands unto the Lord as we worship him.”

As I began to sing deeper, those emotional tears began to pour from my eyes.

Some of the people were also singing and crying while others were blasting in tongues.

I glanced at Fred, with hands akimbo, he was shaking and nodding his head in all direction as though he was translated to another realm.

His voice was louder than every other person. It seemed he was trying to tell them that he prayed in tongue more than any of them as he seldom pray in the language of men.

It may surprise you to know that Fred was not the only person I was sleeping with.

I did those abominable acts outside the church too. I was scared that my evil deeds would one day be exposed if I involve other members. So, whenever those decent boys in my church asked my out, even for a serious relationship, I will politely turn them down preaching the gospel to them. Telling them how it’s going to affect our relationship with God but there was never a no from me to the outsiders: the fallen brethren as they will never be in my church to see me pray or sing.

You see eh! You would want to blame me for this hypocrisy of the highest order. Go ahead. Judge me, condemn me. Cast the first stone but remember, you didn’t die for me. It is Christ that died. Yes, it is God that justifies.

You may think I did not feel sad for myself. You may think I loved what I was doing.

No, to me, it was also disgusting. It made me look so dirty like a pig. It made feel like I did not belong to the family of the true children of Jesus Christ.

I have judged myself enough, so you don’t have to judge me again. If there’s anything to do, it’s to pray for me because secretly, I was dying.

Just like the church of Sardis, I had the reputation of being alive but I was dead. Yes, I had the reputation of being vibrant and burning for God but I was on my way to hell.

You may think I was not born again. Well, I was genuinely born again.

I spoke in the tongues of angels, I’ve received the gift of the Holy Spirit, yet, I was swimming in sin.

On Facebook and other social media, I was an apostle of holiness as I never ceased preaching and posting scriptures on my wall. My WhatsApp status was always preaching Christ but my lifestyle was contrary to the faith.

Apostle Paul said that he’s the worst of all sinners. I don’t want to drag that position with Elder Paul but one thing is certain, nobody can drag the second slot with me.

My situation became critical when I became addicted to sex. Sex became my driving force.

I was always happy during weekly fellowship as it was the only opportunity to visit Fred before heading to church together.

After fellowship, we’d return to his home for more fun before he would see me off.

When I could not make it to Fred’s home, I resorted to masturbation.

There was no single day passed by without me masturbating as I began to find it more pleasurable than sex.

Even on Sunday morning, before service, I would masturbate at home before handling the microphone on the pulpit to lead the praise and worship.

Don’t think I ever felt comfortable at the pulpit.

I hated myself for what I was doing. I only needed a way out of my predicament.

I was always kneeling at the front of the altar for every altar call. But that same evening, I would be in my room thrusting myself with cucumber.

I have gone days without food and water in the name of fasting but to no avail.

You see! Haven’t I tried?

You that want to judge me, how many days have you gone fasting and praying for your own secret sin? Or do you want to tell me that you’re not battling with any private sin?

Man may not be watching you but God watches everything that happens even in the most secret place.

So, please don’t judge me. I understand hypocrisy already. Or have you not read that you should get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye?

Oh young minister, put yourself right with God first and then we can sit down and talk judgment.

There was this day I rounded off my seven days fasting and prayer. I made up my mind never to see Fred again, never to masturbate again and never to see any guy again.

My determination worked perfectly well for weeks but after a month, I found myself in Fred’s bed again.

Pathetic, right? Very pathetic indeed. Fred shouted at me with rage and almost hit me for keeping him for a whole month without sex.

He threatened to quit the relationship but I begged with tears. The only thing that calmed him down was when I promised to spend the night with him instead of going to the vigil.

When it was dawn, I carried my Bible and went home. I did not just return to Fred, I returned to my old way of life.

For years, I continued living such a wayward and bitter life until one particular night.

After satisfying my inordinate desire, I picked up my Bible as usual and began to flip through its pages just to fulfill all righteousness and ease the guilt I was feeling.

I read several pages randomly. The urge to study that night was stronger than the urge for masturbation, even stronger than the urge for sex.

I continued reading carelessly until I came across Psalm 145:18-19.

I read it over and over, then over and over and over and over. For more than a dozen time, I was reading just these two verses.

I read it until it sank so deeply to my innermost being.

As I continued reading, tears began to well up in my eyes.

These were not the emotional tears I used to shed at the pulpit. These were tears I even tried to control but couldn’t.

When my Bible was getting soaked, I closed it and dropped it on my bed.

The next thing that happened was mysterious. I found myself on the floor, rolling, crying and praying.
“Lord, it’s either now or never. I die here tonight.

“Tonight, I bring into captivity every thought and fleshly pleasure to the obedience of Christ.

“My strength, my ability, my will, my wisdom, everything has failed me. It’s just you now oh Lord.

“Lord, may I never see the rising of the sun again until I’m delivered from every devourer.

“Lord Jesus, except you want me to die in my sin, you will deliver me tonight.”

I knew I was disturbing my parents and probably, neighbours but my problem was bigger than one sleepless night.

I thought I was disturbing my parents, but it didn’t take much time before I heard them blasting in tongues from their room.

That night, I didn’t sleep. Even when I wanted to sleep, I could not. I prayed till dawn then slept off.

When I woke up, it was around 9 a.m. I switched on my phone and it was Fred’s message that came in.

Gud mrning lov,
D tot of U cudn’t allow
me sleep last 9t.
I mesmerized ova ur
beauty & ur magical
touch till dawn.
Wherever U ar is
exactly where I wnt 2 b
I’ve wasted too much
time already.
I dnt wnt 2 waste
anoda single day
without U & I’m ready 2
make it up 4 d lost
time.
Baby do U mind
comin ova later in d
day?
I no U wudnt mind.
I love U. Expecting U
dear, kisses.

I stared at my phone a bit confused if to reply or not. After a second thought, I pulled off my sim card and broke it into pieces.

“I’m starting afresh,” I murmured. And as if pushed by an external force, I opened my drawer. I stared at the cucumbers and the toys I bought and shame overwhelmed me. Slowly, I began to break everything. “I’m done with you,” I spoke to the toy as though it could hear. “I’m done with sin,” I continued talking to myself.

As I searched my room thoroughly for all the instruments of sin, a song came to my lips.

I’m no longer a slave
To sin (fear),
I am a child of God.

I sang only the chorus for hours reminding myself who I’ve become.

Days rolled into weeks and weeks into months, I did not go to Fred’s home neither did I do anything stupid.

I thought of Fred several times and the urge came powerfully sometimes. Of course, I’m human.

The urge was there but the power and grace to overcome was stronger.

I would stare at the mirror and applaud myself for not going back to the way it used to be.

I would use my right hand to shake my left hand in jubilation congratulating myself.

I still remember when I took myself out on a date. Funny, isn’t it? That’s what we called self-crush.

You may think I over acted. I don’t really mind.

You will never know what it is like to be free until you have found freedom in Christ Jesus. I am sure you will celebrate more than I did.

One of the mistakes the devil made was that he still allowed me to fellowship with the brethren even in my sin.

He still allowed me to pray and study even after committing those evil acts.

If he was wise, he would have cut me off from the gathering of the brethren.

Had he known, he would have sealed my lips from praying to God who was actually waiting for me to call upon Him.

And because he was not all knowing, he couldn’t stop me from praying and he couldn’t have ever stopped God from answering my prayer.

After three months, I found myself in Fred’s house again.

I was surprised too because I thought I’d never go there again but it’s like I was compelled.

No! It’s not what you are thinking. Haba na! I did not go alone. I went with the Most High. I went to offer him Christ.

I stood at the door feeling reluctant to knock. After a while, I did.

He opened the door and was surprised to see me. He stood at the door confused whether to let me in or not. We stood in total silence staring at each other.

After awhile, I broke the silence, “Fred, I’m….”

“No! No! No!” he cut in. “You don’t need to be sorry,” he said emphatically. I should be the one apologising.

“Onyeche, I’m sorry, it’s over between us.”
“Over?” I asked faking the surprise just to hear more.

“Please forgive me Onyeche, you’re now my past.”

“Fred, what happened? Did I do anything wrong?” The woman in me wouldn’t tell him the reason I visited. I wanted to feed my curiosity.

“No Onye, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that I have found true love.”

“Fred will never change,” I chuckled. “Is that why you couldn’t even welcome me in? Is she inside?”

“Nobody is in,” he said paving the curtain to give me a better view of the room.

“You mean your love for me was never true? Where did I get it wrong Fred?” I enquired just to hear his opinion because from onset, I knew we were into an illicit love affair that will lead to nowhere except hell.

“Onyeche, I must confess, you were not my first love. I left my first love for you. I thought I could hold on to both of you at a time but it’s never possible. I’ve decided to return and start all over again with my first love.”

“Hmm! Who could that be Fred? You told me you love me and promised never to let me go.”

“This love is different from what I felt for you then,” he said confidently exuding great joy.

“This love is genuine. This love is pure. This love doesn’t fail. This love has covered my past and given a future. This love is shed abroad in my heart.” He was nodding his head as he spoke with total peace.

“Onyeche,” he called placing his hands on my shoulders. “I HAVE FOUND TRUE LOVE IN CHRIST JESUS. I have returned to my first love. Onyeche, there is no better love than the love of Christ. There is no love outside Christ. What have we gained from the sin we called love? What has fornication added to our lives? Why not give this love a chance to find its expression in your life?”

The joy I felt in my spirit knew no bounds when I heard those words from Fred.

“Fred, this love is what brought me here. This love found me some months back. I came here just to offer you this love but I’m overwhelmed with joy to know that this love has found you too. This is miraculous.”

“It is the Lord’s doing,” he said. “Do you mind coming in?” he added leading the way.

“No, I don’t mind,” I replied as I followed from behind.

This time around, I was not on his bed. We knelt beside his bed in prayer thanking God for His unfailing love, amazing grace and His undeserved mercy.

I was dead, and now alive again; I was lost, and found.

I am Onyeche, I only exist in
#Adogasimagination.

DEDICATION
To all those in the church of God but still struggling with one sin or the other.

Don’t just relax in that sin. Hold on to Christ for a little while.

He is more interested in helping you than you are interested in helpinghelping yourself. Just one more prayer and you will see the handiwork of God.

Remain blessed. See a good follow up to that choir mistress story. Thank God that she repented, anyway.

We can speak in tongues and miss heaven.
We can win souls and miss heaven.
We can see vision and miss heaven.
We can prophesy and still miss heaven.
We can cast out devil and miss heaven.
We can perform miracles and still miss heaven.
We can read the whole Bible and miss heaven.
We can attend all church services, fellowship activities and camp meetings and miss heaven.
We can have anointing and miss heaven.
We can have all spiritual gifts and miss heaven.
We can be rich, prosperous and wealthy and still miss heaven.
We can give and sow seeds and still miss heaven.
We can wield power and be influential and still miss heaven.
We can have a powerful voice to sing and miss heaven.
we can also have fame and popularity and miss heaven.
•••But we cannot LIVE A HOLY LIFE and miss heaven•••
HOLINESS IS THE REAL DEAL!
Without holiness through salvation in Christ, one will not make heaven.

Forwarding this is Evangelism.
Let us win a soul for Christ.

*COPIED*

FRIENDLY FOES: A World of Sentiments

Strangest explosion rocks the Karachi international airport just as a massive deployment of US marines arrived the busy airport. Stories of victims and their relatives, responders and their purpose, perpetrators and their reasons, unfolds a tale of current resolutions based on old conceptions.

The narrative tells of the most diverse colorful global characters surrounded with a good mix of friends and foes.

David Holden is the English Doctor who loves humanity more than his origins and Abdul Kazaar Ali is his opportunistic aged patient who lives out his perception of Muslim norms like he desires. Aaamu and her mother Rael, live by their wits as their circumstances allow. Fatima is smart enough to outwit her sexuality but too human to resist normalcy.

Ruth is the Israeli genius whose Jewish father gave her a lot more than just his name and Lee is her Chinese boyfriend, trying out fantasies alongside opinions. Then there is Sean Samuel, the Irish-American reporter with a huge reputation he constantly seeks to live up to, like his country.

Diverse Factors on the Plateau

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe.

I personally took the attached photograph on the Plateau earlier this year in June on my way from Kaduna to Jos through Manchok via Vom. I was awed by the engineering genius in the road construction. Barely a week later that same road reportedly had become a killing fields of sorts particularly for delegates returning back to the North East from the APC national convention held in Abuja. That is how precarious that axis of Nigeria despite that many of us are still pretending that the nation is not dangerously sitting on a time bomb following latest events on the Plateau.

Call them potato chips or French fries you can’t have any without the Berom just as you can’t traduce the Fulani and still enjoy your Suya or Cow tail pepper soup anywhere in Nigeria. We are therefore all involved on the Plateau. That nevertheless it would be an act of deliberate mischief and reckless presumptuousness to box the Berom into a genocidal corner despite the circumstantial evidence recently found at a pond in Du District.

This is simply because an alleged crime scene is very much different from a suspected dump site. No doubt there is probable cause for complicity that however does not translate into credible evidence against the entire Berom. Truth is General Alkali and other hapless Nigerians suspected to be victims in the vicinity of Du are actually collateral damage of a longstanding proxy war of historic elite dynamics on the Plateau. That notwithstanding the suspected perpetuators of whatever led to Alkali’s car been found at the bottom of a Du pond must be fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law. Permit me to reemphasize that the rule of law must prevail. While that would bring some semblance of justice and temporary succor for the nation at large what of the fundamental issues that created the enabling environment for the dumpsite to exist in the first place?

The fire on the mountain currently on the Plateau is all part of the symptoms of a deeper malaise caused by the stubborn virus of religion. Merely treating its symptoms without ridding the underlying virus will continuously be an exercise of futility for the nation. If so what then are the fundamental issues bedeviling the Plateau? Jos is a Green Line of sorts which makes it the Nigerian version of Jerusalem. Jos is the home of the Izala sect founded by Samaila Idris a religiously controversial army officer that was forcibly retired in 1978 who hails from Bauchi’s Jahun Fulani clan. He set of up JIBWIS that his one-time teacher Abubakar Gumi became the Grand Patron of. The Sunni Izala is essentially Wahabbist and anti-Sufi. Their openly confrontational stand to all others that don’t subscribe to their teachings does not need further elaboration here.

Meanwhile Jos is also the home base of the Sudan United Mission that was the arrow head of missionary activities in the non-emirate areas of the North. That is one aspect. The other is Jos is the capital city of Middle Belt consciousness making the Plateau a perfect storm waiting to happen in the political North. Under such circumstances the truth and level headedness are normally the first casualties. With Jos being hotly contested historically between the Berom “Gwash” narrative and the Hausa-Fulani “Jas” counter narrative the battle lines are therefore well entrenched and rest is now living history. As the say in the Middle East if the talking stops the shooting starts.

The Northern Muslim intelligentsia and North’s Christian must find common ground in Jos or there will be much more General Alkalis which an endless number of Zaki Biams or even Odis can never stop. History has a curious way of repeating itself. First as tragedy then as farce.

The Nigerian Army on 15th January 1966 lost its present day equivalent of Chief of Administration then known as Adjutant General in person of Lt Col James Pam. He hailed from Du and his body was never found after he was abducted by mutinous troops loyal to the infamous “5 Majors” from his Ikoyi residence. 52 years later the same institution has lost another Admin chief in Du District under the same circumstances of inter-communal violence as one section of the Nigerian polity angrily raises up against another. Both chiefs have somehow become victims of the inherent contradictions of our nation building process.

Have we not learnt anything in 5 decades? Back then drums of war were beaten right now drums of war are still beaten. Back then also there was anger and revulsion in segments of Nigeria. Right now there is still that same kind of anger and revulsion. What historical inferences can we draw from the unfortunate incidences of 1966 than could serve for us as useful signposts in 2018? That should be the topic of conversation.

Every issue in Nigeria no matter how complicated has a big picture and a small one. In any case apart from its infamous pond what else is Du known for? Du is the home district of Lt Col James Pam, DIG Victor Pam and Air Cmdr Jonah Jang. The senior Pam was the 4th most senior Northerner in the army when the unfortunate events of 15th January 1966 unfolded. His esteemed seniors Maimalari, Kur, Largema also lost their lives alongside his good self.

He was the Adjutant General having taken over that office from his bosom friend Yakubu Gowon who had to proceed to Staff College in the UK. The police Pam was billed to by seniority succeed Gambo Jimeta as IGP but was seconded to the National Guard instead. He would later be Gbong Gwom of Jos in 2004. A tough cop he met the Maitasine sect eyeball to eyeball in Kano, Bulunkutu, Gombe and Jimeta. He also set up the Mopol school in Gwoza.

Many political pundits have put it that if his Mopol hardware ordered from abroad had arrived earlier the coup to topple Shehu Shagari would have failed. As the monarch of Jos he criminalized selling of any Berom land to non-Christians and any Christian parents whose daughter converted thrown out of the Church a source put it to me. He also attempted ridding Berom land of its famed Burkutu small scale industry. He woefully failed.

Little wonder before joining the police in 1958 he trained as a priest at the famous TCNN in Bukuru. Jang on the other hand if it would be recalled was Military Administrator of the former Gongola and Benue respectively under IBB. Shortly earning his first star he was appointed head of air force logistics then almost immediately retired. He is still bitter which trickled down to the rest of the Berom.

IBB ever the Maradona would then appoint Lamba Gwom a former Navy paymaster to replace Domkat Bali on the FEC to water down Berom anger. Worthy of mention is the “Langtang Mafia” that apparently came into ascendancy as the Berom star was dimming. They were AFRC members when Jos South and Bukuru LGs separately created to diffuse Jos North. That is why I had earlier mentioned elite dynamics and its overall effect on what is playing on the Plateau.

Without understanding the context and background of this multitude of diverse factors how can a veritable solution ever be crafted out on the Plateau? God bless Nigeria.