Nigeria and her friends



SIR: History is repeating itself as Great Britain insists on helping Nigeria remove “causes of insurgency.” What are the causes? They are politicisation of religion, politico-economic disorder and indiscipline which create mass abject poverty and prevalent discontent. Why, for instance, can Nigeria not stick to rotational presidency that was conceived to forestall political crisis among the federating units? Why did successive regimes neglect electoral reform aimed at producing an electoral commission whose officers are not handpicked by the partisan President, and can, therefore, deserve reasonable confidence?

Great Britain was the first Western nation to outlaw the Slave Trade (1807). Those behind it, led by William Wilberforce, did it for the love of Jesus Christ and humanity, and not because the trade was no longer profitable or advantageous as some people have alleged. Jean Reeder Smith and Lacey Baldwin Smith (1980: 406) are apt that “England felt the need for suppressing the trade not only among its own people but also, for commercial reasons, among the other European nations.”

The next sentence explains: “Legitimate trade could only be developed after the more profitable and much easier slave trade had been eliminated.” Obviously, as long as the Slave Trade persisted, hardly would any other form of trade be possible except weapons, including gunpowder.

Check it out, Wilberforce and “the Clapham Sect” that fought for the abolition of Slave Trade in British Parliament, leading to the 1833 emancipation, were committed evangelicals; at most, they did it to be able to spread the Gospel. In the spirit of “the Clapham Sect”, Britain “set up naval patrols and persuaded or forced African rulers to outlaw the export of slaves.” Clapham, according to John Stott (2006: 26), “was at that time a village three miles south of London.” There resided several members of “the Clapham Sect”, including Wilberforce himself. Their parish rector was the famous John Venn.

Today’s Great Britain should champion how Nigeria’s rulers will respect the rule of law and reason, and uphold fundamental human rights, including religious freedom as enshrined in Nigeria’s constitutional secularity.

•Pius Abioje,
University of Ilorin

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