Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s newly published book contains accusations about the previous U.S. administration’s policy in Nigeria.
By Raymond Ibrahim, The Gatestone Institute
In a bombshell revelation, Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s former president (2010-2015), has accused the Obama administration of meddling with his nation’s politics in order to replace him with its current president, Muhammadu Buhari — whom many blame for facilitating the persecution of Christians. In his new book, My Transition Hours, Jonathan writes:
“On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote… In that video, Obama urged Nigerians to open the ‘next chapter’ by their votes. Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the [Muslim-led] opposition to form a new government.”
A 2011 ABC News report provides context:
“The current wave of [Muslim] riots was triggered by the Independent National Election Commission’s (INEC) announcement on Monday [April 18, 2011] that the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, won in the initial round of ballot counts. That there were riots in the largely Muslim-inhabited northern states where the defeat of the Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari was intolerable, was unsurprising. Northerners [Muslims] felt they were entitled to the presidency for the declared winner, President Jonathan, [who] assumed leadership after the Muslim president, Umaru Yar’Adua died in office last year and radical groups in the north [Boko Haram] had seen his [Jonathan’s] ascent as a temporary matter to be corrected at this year’s election. Now they are angry despite experts and observers concurring that this is the fairest and most independent election in recent Nigerian history.”
That the Obama administration may have imposed its will on a foreign country’s politics and elections is hardly unprecedented. Recall the administration’s partiality for the Muslim Brotherhood during and after 2012 presidential elections in Egypt; or its unsuccessful efforts to oust Israeli prime minister Netanyahu with U.S. taxpayers’ money; or its efforts — with an admittedly unverified “dossier” — to prevent then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump from being elected, or by discussing an “insurance policy” in the event that Trump won. Moreover, texts by Peter Strzok revealed that Obama “wants to know everything we’re doing.”
So in Nigeria, the Obama administration, it seems, sought to right the apparently intolerable wrong of having a duly elected Christian president in a more than 50% Christian nation.
Two questions arise: 1) Is there any outside evidence to corroborate Jonathan’s allegations against the Obama administration? 2) Is Buhari truly facilitating the jihad on his Christian countrymen?
Former Nigerian President Jonathan’s newly published accusations appear to correspond with the former U.S. administration’s policy concerning Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.
To begin with, the Obama administration insisted that violence and bloodshed in Nigeria — almost all of which was committed by Muslims against Christians — had nothing to do with religion.
This despite the fact that Boko Haram — which was engaging in ISIS type of atrocities: slaughter, kidnap, rape, plunder, slavery, torture before ISIS was even born — presented its terrorism as a jihad.
In one instance it even called on President Jonathan to “repent and forsake Christianity” and convert to Islam as the price for peace. The Obama administration, however, refused to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization until November 2013 — years after increasing pressure from lawmakers, human rights activists, and lobbyists.
For instance, after a Nigerian church was destroyed in an Easter Day 2012 bombing that left 39 worshippers dead — one of many such deadly church bombings over the years in Nigeria — Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said, “I want to take this opportunity to stress one key point and that is that religion is not driving extremist violence” in Nigeria.
Instead, “inequality” and “poverty” — to quote Bill Clinton — are “what’s fueling all this stuff” (a reference to the jihadi massacre of thousands of Christians).
Apparently to prove that it believed what it was saying, the Obama administration even agreed to allocate $600 million in a USAID initiative to ascertain the “true causes” of unrest and violence in Nigeria, which supposedly lay in the socio-economic, never the religious, realm.
Generic regrets over slaughter of Christians
Also telling is that, although the Obama administration offered only generic regrets whenever Christians were slaughtered by the dozens — without acknowledging the religious identity of persecutor or victim — it loudly protested whenever Islamic terrorists were targeted.
When, for instance, Nigerian forces under Jonathan’s presidency killed 30 Boko Haram terrorists in an offensive in May 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (who is also mentioned in unflattering terms in Jonathan’s memoirs) “issued a strongly worded statement” to Jonathan, reported Reuters: “We are … deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations,” Kerry warned the Nigerian president.
In March 2014, after the United States Institute for Peace invited the governors of Nigeria’s northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang, an ordained minister. According to human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe:
“After the [Christian governor] told them that they were ignoring the 12 Shariah states who institutionalized persecution … he suddenly developed visa problems… The question remains – why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?”
More recently, Ogebe, of the U.S. Nigeria Law Group based in Washington, told Gatestone in an interview that the Obama administration “State Department actually said they preferred a ‘Muslim majority’ country to explain why Obama chose to visit Senegal instead of Nigeria. Ironically, Jonathan sided with the U.S. on Israel in the U.N. while Buhari voted against the U.S./Israel in the U.N.”
Mohammadu Buhari’s role in the Christmas jihad
Indicators that Muhammadu Buhari — whom the Obama administration helped make president of Nigeria, according to Jonathan — is empowering the genocide of Christians follow.
After Goodluck Jonathan became president, thousands of Christians living near Muslim centers in Nigeria were killed. Since getting what they want — a Muslim president, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015 — Muslims have attacked Christians in ways that are being characterized as a “pure genocide.”
As the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella group of various Christian denominations, said in a recent statement:
“There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage.”
To begin with, significantly more Christians have been massacred under Muhammadu Buhari than his Christian predecessor — mostly by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, who regularly launch raids on Christian villages. In just the first six months of this year, 6,000 Christians were slaughtered in the name of jihad. It took three times as long for the Fulani to kill 1,484 Christians under Jonathan’s presidency.
Any number of prominent Nigerians have accused Buhari of turning a blind eye to Fulani atrocities. He “is himself from the jihadists’ Fulani tribe,” Ogebe told Gatestone.
According to Rev. Musa Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria:
“Under President Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism… Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection as they unleash terror with impunity on the Nigerian people.”
Similarly, according to prominent Nigerian lawyer, author and former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode:
“… the Muslim president [Buhari] has only awarded the murderers with impunity rather than justice and has staffed his government with Islamic officials, while doing essentially nothing to give the nation’s Christians, who make up half the population, due representation.”
Like the Obama administration, Buhari also attributes Fulani persecution of Christians to “poverty, injustice and the lack of job opportunities.” As the Christian Association of Nigeria retorts, however:
“How can it be a [secular or economic] clash when one group [Muslims] is persistently attacking, killing, maiming, destroying, and the other group [Christians] is persistently being killed, maimed and their places of worship destroyed?”
‘Doctrine of hate’
The National Christian Elders Forum is more direct concerning the source of violence:
“JIHAD has been launched in Nigeria by the Islamists of northern Nigeria led by the Fulani ethnic group. This Jihad is based on the Doctrine of Hate taught in Mosques and Islamic Madrasas in northern Nigeria as well as the supremacist ideology of the Fulani. Using both conventional (violent) Jihad, and stealth (civilization) Jihad, the Islamists of northern Nigeria seem determined to turn Nigeria into an Islamic Sultanate and replace Liberal Democracy with Sharia as the National Ideology. … We want a Nigeria, where citizens are treated equally before the law at all levels….”
The Buhari government has even been accused of participating in the jihad. For example, one especially savage Fulani “attack razed several [Christian] villages in the southern part of the state [leaving 100 dead], and a military jet bombed a Lutheran church and other targets,” says one report, before adding: “Some people suspect the jets were deployed in collaboration with the terrorists because their bombs hit villagers.”
Fani-Kyode has been even more direct in his accusation against Buhari:
“Hundreds of indigenous Numan Christians in Adamawa state were attacked and killed by jihadist Fulani herdsmen. When they tried to defend themselves the Buhari govt. sent in the Airforce to bomb hundreds of them and protect the Fulani aggressors. Is this fair? WORLD TAKE NOTE!”
It is also worth noting that, although Christians were only recently the majority of Nigeria’s population, the ongoing genocide against them has caused their population to drop — to the point that Christianity in Nigeria “is on the brink of extinction,” warns Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of the National Christian Elders Forum.
Last summer he said that Muhammadu Buhari “is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities.” Accordingly, “the Church has been weakened and unable to stand before its enemies. Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church.”
Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book “Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West,” is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.