Aniko Briggs - Rivers is A Christian State, We Are Not Apologetic About it
I recall in 2011 or 2012, l was on one of the breakfast TV shows, l answered a question by stating that in my opinion one of the problems of Nigeria is the impression that one religion is superior to another. After the program l received a call from one of our Niger Delta leader who disagreed with me. Today seven years later Nigeria is on the way to her end because of religion.
Nigeria is a circular country, there are Muslims, Christians and other religions but Christianity and Islam are the two major religions. Some states and regions are majorly Christian and some are majorly Muslim.
What is wrong with Governor Nyesom Wike stating the obvious about Rivers state? He governs a Christian state, is Rivers state not a Christian state? While we acknowledge that there are a few Muslims who live in or visit Rivers state, Rivers State is a Christian state.
I am a Christian; how does it offend anyone when l say l am a Christian or that my state is a Christian state?
Why are Christians expected to be politically correct when it concerns their choice of religion? Gov Wike is a Christian yet it has not stopped him from having Muslim friends amongst politicians, it has not stopped him from according the highest regard and respect to Emirs and Muslim religious leaders.
Gov. Wike is a Christian and Rivers state is a Christian state yet these facts have not stopped Gov. Wike from inviting his Muslim friends to Rivers state on state functions or for other reasons.
Rivers state is one highly influential state amongst the 36 states in Nigeria and we will not apologise to anyone, religion, political party or socio cultural groups for our choice of religion, our love, respect and commitment to our religion, we will not tolerate anyone to blackmail, threaten and terrorise Rivers state indigenous peoples, government or governor for our choice of faith or upholding our laws in our state.
Gov. Wike has a right to choose his friends of any religion or political party but the people of Rivers state expect him to put the interest of Rivers state and the people of Rivers state above his friendship and associations.
Religion does not give anyone the right to disregard the laws of any state. The governor of Rivers state is vested with the powers to protect the land of Rivers state, her various ethnic nationalities and to uphold the laws of the state.
The periodic spreading of fake and false news about the government, people and governor of Rivers state in efforts to threaten and destabilise the government, governor and people of Rivers state by any person, group or government will not achieve the expected aims.
We will continue to resist all attempts to create more fear, confusion, tension and destruction amongst the people of Rivers state.
I take this opportunity to caution my brothers and sisters of Rivers state to always remember it is their right and responsible to protect the state and all indigenes of Rivers state. It is our right to have the choice of faith we should not deny our Christian faith.
The indigenous peoples of Rivers state do accept there are people of other ethnic nationalities from other regions of Nigeria living in our state yet neither them or their religion is superior to our rights to protect our state and Christian faith.
Christians will not deny or abandon our faith to please anyone else, nationality or another religion.
Calling on Muslims from all over the world to come and burn churches in Kano state will further and faster drive Nigeria down the path of destruction. This call to violence is condemnable.
The people of Rivers state will not be afraid of any other people, religion or nationality in our own state. No amount of intimidation will frighten us into silence or complacency.
That all Nigerians are free to live in any state does not translate to breaking the laws of the host state or taking over our state.
People of Rivers state should not forget that we have no other state but Rivers state, it is our responsibility to protect our state.
We owe it to ourselves, our government and governor to get both sides of any stories before condemning and accepting any or all accusations in these days of fake and false news and narratives.
The government and governor of Rivers state have issued a statement of the facts, stating that no mosque was demolished yet people pushing for trouble won’t believe the government of Rivers state.
As stated by Gov. Wike, several mosques constructed on approval of the state government exist across Port Harcourt and other major towns of the state. The constructors of the illegal foundation did so on a disputed land and without approval.
I take this opportunity to assure Gov. Nyesom Wike that as long as he is working in the interest and rights of Rivers state and all the ethnic nationalities of the state that the people of Rivers state are with him and will continue to work with him.
While Christians and the people of Rivers state are not going around Nigeria claiming, grabbing and claiming lands and renaming such landscape no group or organisation will come to Rivers state and intimidate us with the laws that are meant to protect us.
In the past four years many churches have been burnt across the northern zones; l do not recall hearing any form of condemnation against the demolishing or burning of churches.
I again call on all the ethnic nationalities of Rivers state making up the 23 LGAs, irrespective of political parties to reject this regular confrontation, attacks, fake news and lies, these tactics and strategies are not about Governor Wike as a person or governor but it is about our rights, state, LGA, communities, resources and faith.
Rivers people, don’t let history repeat itself. Yesterday the haters of Niger Delta convinced Niger Delta people that it was about President Goodluck Jonathan, we were the real targets, PGEJ was terrorised out of political office, everything turned upside down, things are worse today than they were.
Today the attack is on Gov. Wike while the target is really the people, the state, our resources and our faith. We have to be wise and strong, we cannot and should not be fooled twice. We all don’t have to love, like or believe Gov. Wike, but we have to protect our state, people, children and future.
God bless, protect, and give Rivers state, her people, and government, God give Governor Wike wisdom to serve the people of Rivers state to the glory of the living God.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the writer do not reflect the stance, position or posture of kharisafrica.com.
Anikko Briggs is a humanrights activists, an enviromentalist and a leader in the South South region of Nigeria.