This letter was written by ex- President Obasanjo some eight years and two months today, to the the CAN President. It is as relevant today, as it was back then.... Enjoy

His Eminence,

The Most Reverend Peter J. Akinola,

National President, Christian Association of
Nigeria, (CAN),
c/o The Church or Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
, 23 Doula Street
Wuse, Abuja.

Your Eminence,

As I said to you when you formally called on me on Monday, May 17 2004, the situation in Plateau State of Nigeria portends grave danger for the
  State and its citizens in particular and for all Nigerians in general. 

And I have always thought  that men and women of goodwill especially those in positions of leadership religious leaders in peculiar circumstances, should use their God-given positions not to exploit or inflame such a grave situation no matter their personal losses or grievances. To accuse me of taking sides against Christians in a situation of mutual genocide in Plateau State by anybody at all but particularly by a Christian who calls himself or herself a leader of the Christian body in Plateau State is to say the least
destructively insulting. 

It is also tantamount to accusing me of dereliction of duty and failure to perform my constitutional duties and Oath of Office which I took to do justice to all, at all times and at all places. I will, of course, not take kindly to such unwarranted undeserved, unfair and un-Christian allegation. Such an accusation also terms me as anti-Christ, anti-Christian, anti-justice and anti-love against what the Holy Bible teaches and what our Lord and Saviour prescribed. 

I found it extremely provocative and like Paul said in Ephesians 4:26, I reacted properly and instantaneously and rebuking but without bitterness and without allowing the anger to linger.

As a Christian, I believe that is what Jesus taught in Matthew 11 :23 when, out of anger, he condemned the unbelievers of Capernaum his adopted home base. He even went further in John 2: 15 when He whipped out of the Temple area the money changers and merchants of evil. I would, of course, not put myself in Christ's position not to talk of whipping a man for doing what I consider to be grossly unexpected of him but will rebuke such a person publicly or privately. 

I have no regrets for doing exactly that in Jos. I was performing my Christian and political duty of rebuking when it was necessary. It is my duty and responsibility just as it is your responsibility and duty to mount the pulpit and pronounce cathedrally and condemn what you think is wrong. I also do so politically, economically, socially and even spiritually in the interest of Nigeria and all Nigerians.

I believe that all Christians' must cultivate the habit taught by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians
that we should conquer evil with good; not an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. And I also
believe that good begets good, confidence begets confidence and I will rather stoop to show to people of other faiths that Christianity teaches tolerance, patience and love.

As you very well know, our Lord Jesus did not say that we would not have tribulations. John 16:33 is clear on the fact that we should take heart to overcome the world. Jesus did not say to us to kill, maim or even carry the sword in order to live a Christian life. I still believe that the best way of conquering the world is through exemplary virtues of peace, tolerance, forbearance, love, forgiveness, kindness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control which are the fruit of the Spirit as Galatians 5:22-23 teach us.

I also believe that all men and women of goodwill, particularly leaders and in a specially particular way, Christians, should be builders of love, peace and bridges of harmony in the embattled and embittered Plateau State within the gulf of the State's ethnic and religious groups. I write you these words in the true spirit of humanness and belief in the ultimate power of God. 

My belief tells me that God is the ultimate judge and we, as mortals, must use our blessings from God carefully in uniting and not dividing people; building and not destroying bridges: leading and not misleading our folk; and in laying a viable, holistic, peaceful and sustainable foundation for the present and the future. 

If we learn no lessons from the past as well as from the unfortunate experiences of other lands, then
we have no business in calling ourselves leaders. Let me, once again, disabuse your mind about my response to Revd. Yakubu Pam, the CAN Chairman in Plateau. My response and comments were to him and not to CAN as an institution. I have great respect for all religious institutions and not least CAN which is an umbrella organisation for the religion which I practice.

It is my hope that, you and other leaders of CAN will join me and governments at all levels in the honourable and christianly endeavour of building and sustaining peace, love, harmony, tolerance,
justice, inclusion, and development in Plateau State in particular and Nigeria at large.

Yours sincerely,
Olusegun Obasanjo

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