Blinken’s Africa Tour includes a heartfelt heart with a Nigerian minister

Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised African countries a new diplomatic face on his first trip to Africa, cutting the ribbon of a $ 2.1 billion aid agreement with Nigeria. But a Baptist preacher in a small town told him at a private meeting on November 19 that persecuted Nigerian Christians most wanted freedom of speech.

“Recently, they put one journalist, Luka Blinken, behind a bar to report the true story to the American audience,” said Rev. Joseph Hayab of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria. I remembered what he said to Blinken in a small space. Group meeting.

“Our government is full of lies, and they oppose freedom of speech to ensure that the world does not get the truth about what is happening in Nigeria. I’m in jail just because I want to silence him, “Hayab told the Epoch Times when he recalled his meeting with Blinken. He and four other representatives of Nigella’s civil society met with the US Secretary of State in a “heart-to-heart” exchange of views at the embassy, ​​Hayab said.

The Epoch Times contributor Vinyat was arrested on November 4, and was subsequently charged with “cyberstalking” in a story that senior officials said were a threat to him. Cyberstalking is allegedly used by the Nigerian government to silence journalists, experts say. Vinyat is detained in a major prison in Kaduna.

Epoch Times Photo
Rev. Joseph Hayab. (Provided by Rev. Hayab)

Hayab said the State Department’s recent delisting of Nigeria as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) has been convicted of a particularly serious violation of religious freedom, and its status continues. He said it was frustrating for him because it was justified by the slaughter. Of mass kidnapping of Christians and congregations in the church.

“When the entire 66 Baptist congregation was abducted on October 31st and just last night I made a video saying that the bandits are doing it because they are against Christians, why are they improving? Can you say? “He said. “What he does [Blinken] Nigerian Christians and others suffering from persecution have confused us because they feel they can’t rely on the US government to help them, “Hayab said. “It’s like telling a sick person in a hospital to go home and die.”

Hayab also told the secretary that the term “farmer-herder conflict” to describe the killings in Nigeria was incorrect. “When bandits and terrorists come to the village at night and fire at innocent people, how do you describe them as nomads? People who use the story of the peasant-herder conflict talk about it. I just use it as a distraction from the real cause, “he recalls at a meeting that lasted 45 minutes.

“Secretary of State Blinken thanked me for being frank and said that was the reason I invited me to give me a different perspective than the official one,” said Hayab.

Defenders of Washington’s religious freedom strongly opposed the State Department’s more favorable assessment of Nigeria announced in mid-November.

“We call on the U.S. government to rectify this mysterious decision and instead continue the long American tradition of standing up for persecuted people around the world,” said the Alliance Defending Freedom International religion. Sean Nelson, Vice President of Freedom, wrote in an email: Epoch Times. “No explanation has been given to justify this decision. If anything, the situation in Nigeria is worse than last year.

“Thousands of Christians and Muslims who oppose the goals of terrorists and militia groups have been targeted, killed and kidnapped, and the government simply does not want to stop these atrocities. Cases have been regularly filed against religious minorities, including northern humanists. Removing Nigerian CPC status only boldes the increasingly authoritative government in Nigeria. “Nelson says.

Human rights specialist Anne Bwalda, Executive Director of the Jubilee Campaign, has also joined.

“Removing Nigeria from the State Department’s list of violators of religious freedom is a significant setback in efforts to hold perpetrators accountable,” she wrote in an email to the Epoch Times.

“The United States has chosen to keep the citizens of Nigeria safe and reward Nigeria’s terrible failure to pursue justice for the survivors and victims of jihadist violence and hate crimes. It’s time for the northeastern Christians to be killed every day, “Bwalda wrote.

Baroness Caroline Cox of the British House of Lords added her voice to the protest.

“We urge the Department of State to overturn the decision to remove Nigeria from the list of’violators of religious freedom’.

“We receive daily reports of terrorist violence, slaughter, forced transfer, forced conversion, forced marriage, and ransom kidnapping. According to experts, religious alliances recruit and inspire violence. Often used to do. Attacks are often predicted by the hatred of those who refuse to abandon their religious beliefs. “

Blinken, who has been a foreign policy expert inside and outside the government since 1993, told African leaders in Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal that the ministry would be involved with African countries as an “equal partner” under the Byden administration. Told.

The Executive Secretary said Friday’s visits to Nigeria and other countries to stop the pandemic, oppose global warming, increase access to renewable energy projects, revitalize democracy, and achieve peace and security. He said he focused on the “partnership” of.

“Often, international infrastructure transactions are opaque and compulsory. They impose unmanageable debt on the country. They destroy the environment. They are the people who actually live there. Does not always benefit, “Blinken said. “We do things differently,” Blinken said on November 19, announcing the aid package.

According to several media reports, the Secretary has never mentioned China, Nigeria’s main trading partner, but the message he conveyed is that the United States has built Nigeria’s economy and the quality of life there. It was that we could do a better job than China to improve.

Douglas Burton


Douglas Burton is a former US State Department employee stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq.He writes news and commentary from Washington DC