One of the virtues of Yorubaland is that Christians and Muslims live in harmony in ways not replicated elsewhere in the country, even in the world. Well, in Borno State, especially the southern part, it is the case. In an interview in the Daily Sun, comes a revelation from the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Bishop Naga Williams Mohammed. He spoke on how the harmony was ruptured by the 2006 Danish cartoon scandal and the rampages of Boko Haram, and the extraordinary interventions of the present governor, Kashim Shettima.
The cartoon led to the killing of Christians and destruction of churches. The former governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, now a PDP storm in a teacup, refused to fulfil his pledge to the Christians and alienated them until Boko Haram rose and turned many communities to dust and blood. Bishop Mohammed, whose father was Muslim, crooned in the interview how both faiths lived oblivious of each other’s loyalties. Just as in Yorubaland, where Muslims celebrate Easter and Christmas with their sibling Christians, Christians slaughter rams with their fellow Muslims during Sallah.
The Christians groaned until Shettima entered the scene. Hear him: “In the history of Borno State, there is no governor that has been as fair to the Christian community as much as Governor Shettima.” The bishop, who is the former head of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria in Borno, spoke of how Shettima personally visited the wards and allocated tens of millions of Naira for the welfare of the displaced Christians in the IDPs, as well as non-indigenes.
He also waded into the pulverised churches. He monitored and ensured the rebuilding of many of the churches, allocating hundreds of millions to that project. He also is the first to allow the state sponsor pastors and other believers on pilgrimages and paying personal visits to the bereaved and supporting their families. He even wanted Christian and Muslim IDPs to stay together, although the religious leaders were wary of the move. Compassion trumps policy any day.
Shettima is a man for all seasons, especially this season when people see blood instead of brothers. Kaduna State can learn from this example.