Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nigeria: “Violence is not the way forward; dialogue with Muslims continues”

Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso“Violence begets more violence. We Christians must not react to the attacks we fall victim to with violence. We do not even know who is attacking us. Fighting violence with violence is wrong and two wrongs don’t make a right.”        
 
Fifty three year old Mgr. Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso who has been Archbishop of Kaduna for five years is not one to mince his words. His city in northern Nigeria is in the eye of the storm but he firmly states Christians must continue the dialogue with Muslims. 

A curfew has been in place since Monday and the only people in the streets are policemen and military men. The first four hour ceasefire which allowed people to exit their houses was announced Friday, in order to allow Muslims to go to the mosques and pray. 

But everyone took advantage of the break to stock up on food, water and essentials. The second four hour ceasefire was announced for Sunday morning in order to give a chance to Christians to go and pray.
 
Last Friday, the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, dismissed the country’s national security adviser and defence minister for not having dealt with the increasingly serious situation. Over the last year and a half, the violence committed by Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, is said to have caused the deaths of over a thousand victims. The group was responsible for three bomb attacks in the region of Kaduna alone which allegedly caused over a hundred deaths.        
 
“But who are Boko Haram?” Mgr. Ndagoso has strong doubts about Islam really being at the root of the attacks: “Let us hope that the new defence minister and national security adviser will find an answer to these questions. We think the group is an infamous minority, a few fanatics who want to spread chaos in the Country.”
 
The Archbishop of Kaduna pointed the finger at the things he sees as Nigeria’s real problems: “Poverty, unemployment, corruption, illegality. We are rich, we are sitting on huge oil reserves but it is not our people that benefit from the black gold. Seventy five percent of Nigerians live on less that one dollar a day.” He recalled that Western countries are among those responsible for the Country’s crisis: “Your industries and banks have got rich partly thanks to our oil and to the goods and raw materials extracted from Nigerian subsoil, often bribing our political leaders.”
 
Mgr. Ndagoso is about to exit the diocese’s headquarters despite the curfew. He has to attend a Christian-Muslim meeting: “We can move around to guarantee essential services. This meeting is too important to postpone. We must keep the dialogue between different religious groups alive.” It is hoped that the series of attacks will end. Regarding the future of his country Kaduna’s archbishop stated: “We’ll see about the future. Let’s think about today for now. We are in God’s hands.”

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