The Words of the Beard Family

Goodluck, Patience and Blessing for Nigeria

David Beard
June 2011

Left: Dr. Chang-shik Yang with Katherine Rigney speaking to Dr. Martin Uhomoibhi, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Right: Dr. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, an adviser to Nigerian presidents going back decades and a business evangelist to all of Africa, with Dr. Yang

Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan invited True Parents to attend his May 29 inauguration as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Unfortunately, Father and Mother were returning to Korea from their world tour on that date, so they dispatched Dr. Chang-shik Yang as their special emissary.

True Mother first visited Nigeria in 1993 after the establishment of WFWP. Both Father and Mother came to Nigeria in 2005 after the launching of UPF. In July 2006, Mother and Hyo-jin nim both spoke in Abuja, the nation's capital, to an audience of over a thousand people during True Mother's 120-city world tour. In describing that event, Thomas Walsh quoted then governor of Bayelsa State Goodluck Jonathan saying, "This vision will surely help us reach peace. The newspapers and television portray so much conflict and hate. That is why I am so elated to be an ambassador for peace and to be a part of UPF. After today, I only want to do more for peace." Dr. Jonathan and his wife received the blessing from Mother and Hyo-jin nim that day.

President Jonathan was born in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1957, a year after oil was discovered there. The fedora he's fond of wearing marks him as a man from that area, on the southwest coast of the country, where Nigeria juts into the Bay of Guinea.

In reading news articles from Nigeria, it seems that among Nigerians the president's given name rarely elicits comments. Apparently, non-Muslim Nigerians not infrequently give their children non-traditional English names. In fact, in the president's own administration, one can find a Peter Godsday Orubebe. Nevertheless, foreign correspondents do point out that key events in Goodluck Jonathan's political career have been unusually fortunate.

President Jonathan comes from a family of canoe-makers, but he pursued an academic career before entering politics. He earned a master's degree in fisheries biology and a PhD in zoology. He has worked as an environmental protection officer, a schoolteacher, a college lecturer and as science inspector in the Ministry of Education. In 1993, he began working as an assistant director on a commission created to redress the grievances of people in oil producing states that felt the federal government, which controls oil revenues, had done little to develop the oil producing areas. Dr. Jonathan's focus was on environmental protection and pollution control.

Chosen to serve in politics

In May 1999, the state leaders of a political party approached the elders of Otuike, Dr. Jonathan's hometown, and asked them to suggest a candidate to be the running mate of their party's choice, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, in the Bayelsa State gubernatorial election. The elders put forward Dr. Jonathan as a candidate for deputy governor, which Chief Alamieyeseigha accepted. The pair won the election, and in 2002 Dr. Jonathan justified his hometown elders' faith in him by earning an award as the best performing state deputy governor. The following year, the voters returned the pair to office for a second term.

In September 2005, while in London, Governor Alamieyeseigha was arrested on charges of money laundering. He returned to Nigeria on a private chartered plane in November only to have his state's assembly impeach him less than a month later. Dr. Jonathan automatically assumed the position of governor of the state for the remainder of the term.

Before his term as governor ended in May 2007, the retiring two-time president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, selected Dr. Jonathan as the running mate for their party's presidential candidate, Mr. Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Once again, Dr. Jonathan made up half of a winning pair. Eight years after entering politics, he was his nation's vice-president.

President Yar'Adua, a former governor of northern Katsina State, entered office with a persistent kidney ailment. Nigerians faced a number of critical problems during his presidency. President Yar'Adua made some progress in some areas but he left the country on three occasions for emergency treatment, once for several months, and died before completing his third year in office. Thus, his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, was elevated to president of Nigeria to finish out late President Yar'Adua's term.

On learning that Dr. Jonathan had become president, Chief Alamieyeseigha declared, "He was divinely prepared; I was only used as an instrument to bring him. I am glad the choice was perfected by God's grace. He is an embodiment of leadership qualities. He is unassuming but I tell you he combines intellect with wisdom. This country has made a good choice; I am glad to have been a part of it."

His inauguration after the death of Yar'Adua was simply done. President Jonathan concentrated on the job at hand and worked hard to win the people's respect. In September 2010, he announced that he would run in the next presidential election.

Left: Dr. Yang appeared often on television during an inaugural event; Middle: Dr. Yang with Chief Kanu Godwin Agabi, former attorney general and justice minister, now a special advisor to the president; Right: President Goodluck Jonathan with his wife Patience holding Independent National Electoral Commission certification that the election was fair and he is the winner.

A bit about Nigeria

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in what has become known as "the scramble for Africa," a few European powers colonized the entire African continent with the exceptions of Ethiopia and Liberia. Decisions as to what colonies would be formed and what shape they would take were made at conferences in European capitals using inadequate maps. More than half the lines that demarcate African nations are straight, often following lines of latitude and longitude, because national borders were decided with little knowledge of Africa beyond her coastline. At one meeting with French negotiators, Britain Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil III joked, "We have been engaged in drawing lines upon maps where no white man's foot ever trod; we have been giving away mountains and rivers and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small impediment that we never knew exactly where the mountains and rivers and lakes were."

Bargaining statesmen and diplomats were mostly unaware of traditional kingdoms, so though some existing kingdoms remained intact, the situations of most were not taken into consideration. Sometimes, ancient peoples were divided. The Bakongo people found themselves citizens of either French Congo, Belgian Congo or Portuguese Angola. Sometimes peoples with no cultural ties or common language were enclosed within a single nation. When a count was finally taken, Nigeria was found to have corralled two hundred and fifty discrete groups.

When it came time to negotiate Nigeria's independence, the complexities of its mix of ethnicities came to bear. In the northern, desert area of Nigeria were mainly Hausa speaking Muslims under Fulani feudal lords. In those days, the northerners were the least educated in Nigeria. Though they accounted for 54 percent of the population, they constituted only 5 percent of primary school students and 10 percent of secondary students. In the west, which included Lagos, then the capital city, were mainly Yoruba people. They arranged themselves in traditional states under local monarchic chiefs. The Yoruba had attained a good level of education under the British and were skilled workers. In the east, across the Niger River, were the Igbo, who were generally the best educated and most highly skilled, though they lived in the poorest, most crowded region. The Igbo tended to migrate in search of better living conditions. They formed Igbo enclaves in other's territories, producing tension with the local majority ethnic group. Though the other societies were highly structured and centrally controlled, Igbo communities sprang up autonomously as a result of individual risk taking and efforts to get ahead. Meanwhile, two hundred and fifty minority groups naturally resented lack of access to goods, money and power and longed to set up their own autonomous territory within Nigeria.

Modern issues

Nigeria today has to grapple with serious conflicts between northern, desert dwelling Hausa -- Fulani Islamic herders and southern jungle-dwelling Yoruba and Igbo Christian farmers in an area known as the middle belt, where their territories overlap. It's said to be less a religious and more an economic conflict, a fight for survival over limited resources. Desertification has reduced grazing land for the herders' cattle. They have encroached on farmland. The herders are much wealthier than the farmers. Christian women marrying Islamic herders, perhaps for economic security, is seen by the Christian community as an attempt to annihilate their faith group. Whatever the cause of individual incidents, news of recurring massacres and counter-massacres in the middle belt cast a pall over the whole nation.

Nigeria is the eighth largest exporter of petroleum in the world, yet UNICEF, quoting a 2006 UN report, states that 92.4 percent of Nigerians are living on less than two dollars a day. The country lacks sufficient potable water and electric power. Nigeria faces a host of problems, but being home to one sixth of all Africans, progress made there (like the gears on a bicycle turning the much larger wheel) could transform the continent.

Dr. Yang comes to Abuja

On May 27, Dr. Yang flew to Abuja,'- the Nigerian capital, where he was to join twenty-eight heads of state and hundreds of foreign dignitaries in celebrating the election victory of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. "Because I came as True Parents' special emissary," he said, "I also received the same reception and welcome as a head of state and sat alongside heads of state." He was met at the airport by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative, a protocol officer and Senator Ibrahim Nasiru Mantu, who had met Dr. Yang in Las Vegas when the senator attended a Divine Principle seminar there for prominent members of society. Senator Ibrahim took Dr. Yang in his own car to his hotel, had dinner with him later and took him on a personal tour of Abuja. While in Nigeria, Dr. Yang stayed in a luxury suite reserved in the name Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The following morning, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Martin L. Uhomoibhi, greeted Dr. Yang at his hotel. Dr. Uhomoibhi told him, "Today, we need Father Moon's blessing for our nation."

Later that day, Dr. Yang went with Mrs. Katherine Rigney, the blessing itinerant worker for Africa, who in Nigeria works closely with Mrs. Evelyne Winter, a national messiah to Niger; Nigerian national leader Olaleye Alao and his deputy Una Smart. Dr. Yang and Mrs. Rigney went to pay a courtesy call on Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who is the president of the African Union's African Business Roundtable. He is also an ambassador for peace and a member of UPF-Nigeria's board of trustees. According to local reports, Alhaji Tukur is seventy-six years old and "is still shuttling round the continent preaching his gospel of business emancipation to African presidents with so much vigor that he is the envy of his generation."

"Alhaji Tukur helped receive True Mother and Hyo-jin nim in 2006," Kathy Rigney wrote, "He was deeply moved when he read True Father's autobiography and he told President Jonathan to pay close attention to what True Father's representatives have to say. He told Dr. Yang he believes that every sentence of the autobiography has a deep message. Alhaji Tukur said he was pleased to receive Dr. Yang as True Parent's representative and promised to work for the success of the eventual visit of our True Parents to Nigeria in person."

They also called on Dr. Kanu Godwin Agabi, who is sixty- five years old and is also an adviser to President Jonathan. He has served Nigeria as the minister of justice, as attorney general and as the minister for solid minerals development. Dr. Yang, who noted that Dr. Agabi has visited Korea and has read Father's autobiography, said of him, "He is a special leader, chosen by God. He told me, 'In order for Africa to be transformed, we need blessings from people like Father Moon.' He takes pride that he is an ambassador for peace and said, 'The teachings of Rev. Moon are necessary for this nation and will transform the nation.'"

Because Dr. Yang believes that Nigeria is a central nation in Africa that will be able to exert a positive influence throughout the continent, he gave True Father's autobiography and World Scripture to many people that he met.

Inaugural events

It is a Nigerian tradition for a newly elected president to attend a religious service of thanksgiving at both the National Cathedral and the National Mosque. As a Christian, the president went to the mosque first. In the afternoon, he went to the cathedral, where he, his wife Patience and their two children sat on the dais, to the side of the pulpit. "Our True Parents were offered seats among visiting presidents and diplomats at the front and center of the cathedral for the two-hour service conducted by several of Nigeria's most famous Christian leaders," Mrs. Rigney stated. Their emissary Dr. Yang -- who said that because he was the only non-African in the front row, television cameras lingered on him -- occupied that seat.

The guest list to the inaugural banquet that evening was limited to four hundred. Afterward, Mrs. Rigney reports, "Dr. Yang found himself swept up in a group of about thirty presidents, vice-presidents and prime ministers who filed past President Jonathan and his wife, who greeted each one in turn. Other guests were channeled off toward a different exit. In the middle of this distinguished group, Dr. Yang met President Jonathan and offered him greetings and blessings from our True Parents."

The following day, at the inauguration, Africa Regional President Hee-sun Ji joined Dr. Yang in seats reserved for True Parents. In the inauguration program Dr. Yang found the president's curriculum vitae, which indicated the day he was appointed an ambassador for peace and proudly included his UPF good governance award among his honors.

In his inaugural address, the president and ambassador for peace echoed his comments during True Mother's visit when he said, "This is the era of transformation. This is the time for action. But Nigeria can only be transformed if we all play our parts with commitment and sincerity. Cynicism and skepticism will not help our journey to greatness. Let us all believe in a new Nigeria. Let us work together to build a great country that we will all be proud of. This is our hour."

Face to face with Nigeria's future

The following morning, Dr. Yang, Rev. Ji, Mrs. Rigney and Mrs. Winter met President Jonathan privately on behalf of True Parents. As he had to others, Dr. Yang presented As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen and World Scripture, a book that Kathy Rigney explained "contains many quotations from traditional Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa religious teachings."

Dr. Yang conveyed True Parents' love and greetings to the president, who asked about Father's health. The president expressed humility and said that he is in awe at how God has been guiding his life. As Dr. Yang later explained to Father, ten African nations are anxious to receive True Parents. President Jonathan asked that he be the first to be told when True Parents schedule is clear and that he would welcome the opportunity to officially welcome them to his nation. So much effort is being made to break through pressing difficulties in Africa that people recognize a need for more than human effort, so as Dr. Yang heard several times in his few days in Nigeria, a cry arises for True Parents blessings on their nations. 

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