By V. AL-PEA
The Messenger Voice (TMV) spoke to Bistu Yilji Johnson, who is Chairman of the State Youth Christian Association of Nigeria–YOWICAN. A Catholic and journalist with the Word of Life newspaper, Johnson discussed many things, including security. TMV wanted to know how Johnson views Nigeria’s battle with Hausa Islamic terrorism especially the one coming from Boko Haram. Here is our interview with him.
TMV: What exactly is YOWICAN and what are its activities in the state?
BISTU: YOWICAN is the acronym for the Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria. I am at the moment the state chairman of the branch here on the Plateau. The objectives of this organization cut across large activities, but to narrow it to a very concrete and direct statement the mission of the Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria is to bring together all the youth groups that fall within the five blocks of CAN.
TMV: Some say YOWICAN is practically politicized, hence, a political group. How can you react to that?
BISTU: I would not say totally that YOWICAN or CAN itself have no elements of politics. I would go to PDP or would go to ACN or I will go to any of the political parties, but my purpose of being in YOWICAN is to develop me spiritually and to make me unite and socialize with other youths of the Christian churches that belong to CAN.
TMV: How can you rate Jang’s government when it comes to youth empowerment?
BISTU: I will tell you that he has tried. He has tried and there is still room for improvement. I’ll give you reasons why Jang has tried. If you look at the cabinet that Jang has formed it’s made of young people. Count the elderly people in his administration and you will find out there is very few. So for youth empowerment you can give him kudos in that aspect.
TMV: In the wake of the growing insecurity in the country, the President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor recently called on Christians to defend themselves, especially whenever they are attacked. Do you subscribe to that?
BISTU: I will tell you absolutely yes because for me I think the government at the federal level is not decisive on issues of security. As a Christian I believe in one thing, God has given you life to guard jealously and if anybody is going to temper with this life God has given you. That’s common morals, not even spirituality. I am sure that it was out of pain that the national President of CAN made that remark. How can you expect him as a leader to say just goes home and sleep, that when they come, they kill you and go. We don’t believe in that.
TMV: Some say that the recent imposition of state of emergency on some parts of the state by President Jonathan was politically influenced. What do you have to say about that?
BISTU: I agree with it. Why I have to agree with it is that the government has the power to handle those issues and if they had handled it, it wouldn’t reach to the issue of state of emergency. But I’ll give you an example. Plateau has suffered state of emergency during the time of governor Dariye. What we see at that time is not close to what is going on in Maiduguri. Why hasn’t the Federal Government declared state of emergency in Maiduguri as a whole? Why choose some local governments? Comparing it with the situation we are having on the Plateau, ours is far better than that of Maiduguri. We have expected that if you will declare state of emergency on four local governments on the Plateau then you will declare the whole of Borno state for state of emergency. But why do that and then justify it with that of the Plateau? For me they are two different issues. Handle every state as an entity. What is the problem with Plateau should be the problem with Plateau; what is the problem with Adamawa should be the problem with Adamawa.