Akinola, Repudiate Anti-Gay Violence

October 9, 2007

Human Rights Watch: Nigerian Corruption Endemic

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The Primate of All Nigeria

The Washington Post notes this report from Human Rights Watch about how Nigeria is governed:

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 9 — Human Rights Watch warned on Tuesday that wealthy and violent political godfathers have hijacked Nigeria’s eight-year-old democracy while enjoying almost total impunity for their misdeeds.

The group’s 123-page report portrays April’s disastrous and widely condemned national elections as symptomatic of a system in which political players compete mainly with rival gangs of heavily armed youths, who rape, kill and intimidate opponents. The winners of these battles then use the Nigerian government’s vast oil wealth to entrench their power.

“In violent and brazenly rigged polls, government officials have denied millions of Nigerians any real voice in selecting their political leaders,” the report says. “In place of democratic competition, struggles for political office have often been waged violently in the streets by gangs of thugs recruited by politicians to help them seize control of power.”

The report does not detail the Anglican Church’s involvement, so let me add a few facts which, if more widely known, ought to embarrass American “Anglicans” who have been quick to pledge allegiance to Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola because of his assiduously publicized anti-Gay campaign:

• The Nigerian government donates the land on which many Anglican churches are built, including Akinola’s own cathedral in Abuja. There is no such thing as separation of Church and state in Nigeria.

This is a much bigger danger to the Church and the Gospel than it is to the government. When the Church gets co-opted, injustice invariably results.

• The Nigerian presidency, by common consent, rotates between Christians and Muslims. Christian presidential candidates choose Muslim VP’s and vice-versa. The previous president was an Anglican; the current president is Muslim, and his vice-president is an Anglican. Among all the Christian denominations in Nigeria, only Anglican politicians win the top slots.

• Government officials attend every important Anglican event—a school here, a bishop there—arriving in their Mercedes and BMWs and mixing with the “in” crowd. Indeed, belonging to the Anglican Church is seen as a way to get ahead financially and politically.

• The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria—Akinola until recently, when he was defeated for re-election by his fellow Christians for being too close to the government—is an automatic member of the government’s National Security Council. Akinola tried to stack the deck for his re-election by rescheduling the vote for a date when his main Catholic rival was out of the country attending a Vatican event. Akinola’s fellow Christians saw through his manipulation and denied him even the loser’s automatic vice-presidency. He’s losing prestige at home, even as he continues to attract homophobes in America.

By the time this schism is done there’s going to be hell to pay. Akinola’s American backers have hitched their wagon to a mafioso in a Mercedes; can blood be far behind?

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