Militants all over the world are often associated with one word – change. It may be any kind of change; negative or positive, depending on the prevailing situation in a society. Militancy is about a desire for change; an expression of an interests in the ‘dislocation’ of an order for a new one. While militants may receive applause from some people, they are condemned by others. In the spheres of religion, politics, economy, leadership and development, militants (or sometimes radicals) manifest an interest in effecting change because of the need to radicalise an existing system, though some people’s peculiar interests will be dislocated in the process.
Those identified as militants of the Niger Delta in Nigeria have proved to be loved and hated – loved by the impoverished, poor, marginalised, dispossessed and hungry; hated by those in government and those controlling the economic life of the region.
The first group is made up of the lovers. The dejected, hungry, deprived, had wanted a change of their situation.
Most of the militants lacked good home breeding (as a result of much poverty) and were largely illiterates (as they could not attend school). The only ways of making success were to engage in bunkering and violence. With the Federal Governments’ recent amnesty, most militant groups submitted their weapons to the government. The amnesty has made it possible for many of the militants to be redundant, while a few had the privilege of being trained overseas as pilots, doctors, etc.
Not long ago, some of the leaders of the militants, headed by Comrade Azuki, led some of their members to The SCOAN to seek deliverance. Prophet Joshua, in his characteristic interest in the poor and hopeless, decided to attend to them. He delivered Azuki, and then all of those who had come with him. The SCOAN and Emmanuel TV went ahead to give each of them N200,000, a Bible and his own book, ‘The Mirror’. Shortly after that, another set of militants came to the church and were treated in a similar manner. He delivered all, and as they narrated their experiences, they said they were liberated from drunkenness, drugs, ruthlessness and other forms of immorality. Some chose to be assisted to return to school; others chose to be assisted in their business. Prophet Joshua pledged to see to their needs, and that it would be on a continuous basis.
The Prophet’s generosity to the militants (which was highly applauded) was not the first of its type. Thousands today enjoy the scholarship scheme put in place by The SCOAN – young men and women who are orphans, and those whose parents could not afford to train them. A few young men recently narrated their own stories to the congregation, when they had been picked by members of the Emmanuel TV to work for the church, as labourers. When the man of God saw them, he felt for them, saying his conscience would disturb him engaging such young men as labourers. He had asked if they wanted to go to school, and they replied in the affirmative. He gave them scholarships. Today, they are in different schools all over Nigeria. Some young men and women are also on training outside the country, who see him as a father and benefactor.
The point is clear: Prophet T.B. Joshua is a model in motivating generosity and a philanthropist, and a stronger practitioner of what he preaches – that we should love our neighbours in obedience to God’s commandments. He had said before that ‘love is lost; let us look for it. We should not be talking about Christians or Muslims but we should look for love because love is lost.’
He had said also, ‘Whoever you see me caring for here, I was once like that. If you don’t know what it means to be poor, when blessing comes, you will not be able to manage it. I know what it is to be poor, I know what it means to be an orphan and in need. I was once like that. So, each time I see those less privileged members of the society, I remember those days when I had no one to take care of me. I always feel what they feel. I don’t know of any difficult situation that I have not passed through.’
What he has done for the ex-militants was a clear instance of what the government or privileged members of society should do in order to influence the extermination of criminalities and immorality in society. We thank God for his life.
From Sunday Patrick & Ezekiel Fajenyo, public policy analysts and members of Social Engineering Research Institute.
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