Former deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu has admonished young lawyers not to play the card of religion and ethnicity which he said has kept the country backward, while in the practice of their profession.
Senator Mantu also said that those going about killing Christians and burning down churches across the country in the name of Islam are pursuing an agenda that is quite different from the teachings of Islam.
The former Senator spoke in Abuja at a reception organized by the Law firm of Chukwuma-machukwu Ume (SAN), in honour of some new lawyers who were called to the Nigerian Bar.
He told his audience that the combination of bad leadership, religion and ethnicity are the bane of the country’s under development.
Among the celebrants were Pius Nnadim, Chiderea Okoroma, Rev.Sister Winifred Moneme (who bagged a Doctorate degree in both civil and Cannon Law); while the former Nigerian Ambassador to Mali, Ken. Nwachukwu, was the guest speaker.
“To the new wigs, you are now going to face the world. As you do that, please don’t allow yourself to practice what has kept this nation where it is today. I don’t think any of us seated here is happy with the state of affairs in this country today. Nobody is happy, but God loves Nigeria in such a unique way.
There are few countries in the world that God loves as Nigeria. We have done a research and we have gone round the world to find out that there are seven countries in the world that God loved as much as Nigeria.
What do I mean by that? A country God has provided with everything. We are the most intelligent people in Africa and by extension in the world. God has bless Nigeria with exceptional intelligence. In Africa, we are the only place that you can grow anything that is grown in Europe. Every type of soil is available in Nigeria.
But why haven’t we translate all these God given gifts to make our country the richest on earth?Absence of quality leadership has been our bane. As you go out there, if you have a case between your tribesman and somebody else, don’t be carried away by sentiments to say oh! This is my tribesman and by all means, I must help him to win the case against the man from another tribe.
And let me say this, tribalism, ethnicity is one of the major problem we have in this country that has kept us where we are today.”
Speaking on religious intolerance, Mantu lamented that those killing and burning churches in the name of Islam are not true Moslems, but are pursuing a different agenda.
“Religion is generally about peace and love. I am a Muslim but those who are killing in the name of Islam are not true Muslims. This is because in the Koran, we are instructed, we are directed by our own Prophet Muhammed that we should protect Christians whenever they are in trouble.
To buttress this point he narrated a story of some Muslim faithful who were in trouble and were chased away from Medina and they ran to Ethiopia. At that time, there was a Christian King in Ethiopia who was just baptized and he was known all over the place as a man who fears God. So our Prophet told us that those who were being chased go to Ethiopia where there is a King , a Christian King who is so kind hearted and a very nice person who actually accommodate.
So when they went, he took charge of them. But of course in those days, if another king takes charge of some people from another city or country, the king of that particular area will also send a message to him say look, release my people to me or there will be war.
So the king of Saudi Arabia sent a message to the king of Ethiopia to release those criminals and bring them back to Saudi Arabia to face justice. And the Ethiopian King said okay, let me find out from them why they ran away from your town. They said we ran because we told our people to worship the true living God, but they said we must worship the gods of our ancestors, Idols that don’t talk to us. And we told them no, that there is a true living God, who actually we shall worship and they said we are committing heresies.
The King asked, a true living God? They said yes, and he asked, do you know Jesus? They said yes, he is the son of Mary. The king asked further, how was he born? They said he was born of the Holy Spirit. The king was shocked and said, so what is the difference between your religion and my own?
At this point, the Ethiopian King said look, go and tell the king of Saudi Arabia that I am not releasing these people, they are people of God and so they remained there. That is why in Saudi Arabia, we have Moslem and Christians.
When the war was over in Saudi Arabia, Prophet Muhammed went back to the King and say thank you very much for protecting my people, but those of you who want to come back to Saudi Arabia should come with me. The people said no, we are comfortable here. We are not going back to Saudi Arabia again. Some of them have converted to Christianity and that’s why in Ethiopia today, you have Christians and Muslims.
The message here is that we are commanded by Prophet Muhammed that every followers of Islam should protect Christians as that king protected Muslims when they were in trouble.
But what is happening here? People go to church and kill and they say they are Muslims. Are they true Muslims? Of course no. They have an agenda that is absolutely not in line with the teachings of Prophet Muhammed. This is because we are supposed to protect Christians.
And come to think of it, most of us are Christians and Muslims. We all know that we are the same mother and father. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Will you want to harm your brother or sister that come from the same womb with you or biological father and mother? So by extension, we are all coming from the same biological womb. Why should we hate one another?
If God had wanted all of us to be Christians, or for all of us to be Muslims, He just say ‘be’ and it will be, because he has the power to do so. But in His own wisdom, He gave us the right to choose.”
On ethnicity, Senator Mantu who was the chairman of the event noted that ethnicity breeds nepotism at the expense of meritocracy.
“Meritocracy should be the yardstick if our country wants to move forward. When you talk about ethnicity, you are Yoruba, Igbo, Itsekiri, Urobo, did any of us in this country ask God to create him a Hausaman or a Yorubaman? No because we did not have a choice. So why should I hate you because you are Igbo, Yoruba or this and that?
But what I want to simply say is that whether you are a Christian or Muslim, does hunger know the difference between a Christian and a Moslem stomach or a Yoruba and Igbo stomach? All these things that dehumanize us don’t know the differences. So what are we supposed to be?
As human beings, we are supposed to pull our resources together, close ranks and fight all those things that dehumanized us. And when we do that, life will be worth living, because there will be peace, love and stability. If there is peace and stability, there will be progress and development. If there is development, there will be prosperity and life will be worth living and nobody will want to die.”
So as you go out, don’t allow those things that have made us captives to capture you- religion, ethnicity and regionalism.”
He described the former Attorney General of Imo state, Chukwuma-machukwu Ume (SAN), who organized the reception as a “a finest human being. I hate people who sing the praises of people. But of course, those of us who are here must know the kind of person we are dealing with. He is the finest human being I have ever met. He has a heart of gold.
He is a detribalised Nigerian, a true nationalists and indeed, a global citizen. He is a kind and generous man, transparent man who is always there for his friends and relations. These young lawyers he is celebrating today are not his biological children, but he is happy that they are qualified to practice in the law courts.
On his part, he said he was motivated by need to give the young lawyers, who are not his biological children, a sense of belonging and encouragement as they go into the legal profession.