A good background would suffice here – I was born into a family of Muslims – and I was a Muslim for the first 22 years of my life; and I have then gone on to be a Christian for next 18 years of my life; and as a Christian, I actively supported and campaigned for Nuhu Ribadu, a Muslim from the North in 2011 even though my wife, my closest friend for the past 23 years is a Niger Deltan as was Goodluck Jonathan that my candidate at the time was running against!
My late Mum, may her soul rest in peace, comes from a deeply Islamic-rooted family in the Etsako town of Agbede, Edo State and she often told me stories when I was much younger of how her family originally descended from Kano – her dad, my late grandfather, was taken by his own father, as a 9-year old on pilgrimage through the deserts from their town to the Holy land of Mecca; and was only able to find his way back home to Nigeria as a 21 year old, 13 years later, after his own father had died as an lslamic Scholar in Mecca and buried there, when he came across others on pilgrimage that spoke the same native language as his – they helped him relocate his family in the village – he married my grandmother and the rest as they say is history! My own mother was their first child; and my grandmother remains alive today – so those that feel this intro sounds more a Nollywood encounter can challenge me to them to her to have this story fact-checked.
Till date, I have four living siblings that are Muslims and I, along with three others are Christians – I can share story in in public because I am very proud of my roots as a Nigeria even as my Wife’s mum is Igbo from Imo State while probably the three closest friendships I have cultivated in my adult life have been with three guys from the Middle Belt of Nigeria – so I have my roots very well-rooted in all parts of this nation and I can easily state that I am a very unapologetic Nigerian.
These has become very necessary for me to place in the public domain as I do this rejoinder because too often, you come across others, my Egbon Dele included, who pretend as though they are more Nigerian than others – and who feel they have a very unique understanding of the complexities that make up Nigeria; and that only they are qualified to tell you “what exactly we must do to move forward as a nation” – so as I read this article on the plane on my way back to Lagos from Abuja on Saturday, I told myself, “I must respond to this” – I must respond to this because, I refuse for anyone to try and claim that “Religion is not a part of Politics in Nigeria” when with the experience I have had as reeled out above, I can definitely conclude that indeed – Religion is part and parcel of Nigerian Politics.
Religion is actually the twin-sister of Ethnicity within Nigerian Politics while Hypocrisy is their triplet-sister – and in this article, Dele has used the latter to hide the former two in presenting his positions, but he is not alone, this is what so many Intellectuals and Public Speakers do within this polity – they shy away from accepting that even they routinely perpetrate this act of Hypocrisy while trumping Religion and Ethnicity in taking political [and even Business] decisions from time to time; Dele does just that by paying attention to Pastors in his article while exempting the Imams – he pretends as though he is also not aware of the influence Imams exert within the Islamic faith as the Pastors do in Christendom – he writes as though he is not aware that indeed, Muslims – in the North and the South – are also largely going to follow the political directions they see their own Islamic leaders tending towards in the same way he has tried to theorize that with Christians and Christian Leaders – and he tries to erase some part of our collective memories about the very Political history of Nigeria – leading to how we got here.
The real reason I have chosen to do this article is to attempt to once and for all put an end to this theory of “Religion should not mix with Politics in Nigeria” – because nothing can be farther from the truth than that – what I have noticed as in the case of Dele with the subject article, is that those that push this theory, only do so when such seems to favor their own side of the debate – Religion has always been part of Politics in Nigeria – and would remain so for a very long time to come, even possibly till the Rapture – Religion was always part of Nigerian Politics when the British pushed for the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates; it was part of Nigerian Politics when the coup d’état and pogroms of the early sixties took place in Nigeria; during the Civil War; during the series of leadership tussles that led to many other coups in the 70s and 80s; Religion was part of the considerations that led to the Presidency of Obasanjo in 1999; his succession by Umar Musa Yar’Adua; and Religion almost placed the nation in a major crisis when he died and has put the nation at war in the last 4 years even leading to the next elections which is now being contested on the basis of Christian/Muslim v Muslim/Christian Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates!
For every season as I have mentioned above, Ethnicity and Hypocrisy have worked hand-in-hand with Religion to produce the eventual outcomes that we had in this nation – and that is looking like the case again in 2015, because even while the intelligentsia on the side of the opposition, APC were pushing the mantras of “Change and Performance” even they warned “APC against fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket” and told the party “how such a combination would make victory less likely for the party versus a Christian/Muslim ticket being presented by the PDP” – the same group of people sat through the meetings that came up with the Osinbajo joker – “Present a Pastor from the largest and most respected Christian denomination in Nigeria and in the process divide or even possibly steal the bloc of Christian votes that would have gone to Jonathan!”
The Change and Performance mantra pushed by the APC was not strong enough to have them push a Southerner-Christian/Southerner-Muslim Candidacy like Amaechi/Fashola or Southerner-Muslim/Southerner-Christian Candidacy like Fashola/Osinbajo – when it was time to pick their candidates, even APC sacrificed their supposedly-most-performing Governor Fashola as they could not match him with a Buhari-Muslim-Candidate to present a Muslim-Muslim ticket – so in essence, Egbons like Dele, who say “Religion should not be considered in Progressive Politics” were also very busy working behind closed doors negating their own propounded theories.
Then back to the Pastors – I am equally surprised that the same Dele who saw nothing wrong with “Pastor Adeboye’s visit to the annual Lagos State Thanksgiving Service that had Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in attendance” – one that became a major Photo-Op thereafter by APC and their supporters to suggest “Pastor Adeboye had endorsed Buhari” now all of a sudden chooses to do an article warning this nation of the interfering roles of Pastors in Nigerian Politics when “Bishop Oyedepo also chose to receive President Goodluck Jonathan at the Winners’ Chapel!”
Dele goes on to write “I’m not just a Christian; I had the great privilege of being born by my heavily spiritual mum and dad in an Aladura church in Ile-Ife. That was in the good old days when men and women truly served God and prayed more than a praying mantis” – yet the same Dele saw nothing wrong with 1) Pastor Tunde Bakare becoming the VP candidate to Buhari in 2011 neither did he complain when 2) Buhari picked Pastor Yomi Osinbajo as his VP candidate for 2015; and of course he applauded when 3) Revd. Fr. Mbaka and 4) Archbishop Okogie practically endorsed Buhari by lampooning Jonathan; so does this mean that Dele is suggesting that “Pastors Adeboye, Bakare, Osinbajo, Mbaka, Okogie who now play some roles in Politics no longer belong to the categories of Real Men of God”
Dele and many others like him actually play this Religion in Politics game – they only do so while pretending as though they do not – in their closets and in the private meetings and in political strategy sessions, all the intellectuals that consult for our Politicians and Political Parties discuss how “the Muslims in the North would vote for Buhari but the Christians there would still vote for Jonathan” and how “Jonathan would win more votes with the Christians in the South although with the roles of Pastor Osinbajo, many more Pentecostals are likely to give their votes to Buhari irrespective of the zones they come from; and coupled with the messages of Revd. Fr. Mbaka and Archbishop Okogie, Buhari is also likely to get a lot of votes from the Christians in the South-East” – so in essence, those that say “Religion should not be part of Nigerian Politics” are simply being hypocrites and they are basically pushing for an ideal that even they do not subscribe to!
In the very case of this article, it is apparent that Dele conceived this article for the sole purpose of finding a way to water-down the effect Jonathan’s visit to Bishop Oyedepo’s Church might have had with some Christians, some of whom had already concluded that “Pastor Adeboye had already endorsed Buhari” considering one of his loyal Pastors was running as VP candidate to Buhari leading them now also begin to consider voting for Goodluck Jonathan as well! Keep in mind that Dele did not publish a similar article when the Mbakas and Okogies and Bakares delivered moving sermons directly and indirectly endorsing Buhari.
Dele goes on, within this article of his, to mention that he searched vigorously for the Video in which Bishop Oyedepo was alleged to have made references to “the Gates of Hell” in respect to those that oppose the candidacy of Jonathan [this was a lie well-concocted and spread by APC bloggers led by Kayode Ogundamisi on Social Media before finding its way into Mainstream Media] – he writes “I have endeavoured to watch the video of the Presidential visit which was mercifully uploaded on YouTube and nothing of the sort emanated from the Bishop unless the full footage had been cleverly edited which I doubt.” So in essence, he goes on to try attempting to massage the ego of the Bishop, reeling out his past encounters with him, that showed him to be a good man while also suspecting the Bishop at the same time!
My Egbon, As Apostle Paul asked the Galatians, I dare ask of you – “Who has bewitched you like this into this Buharism leading you to become a Buharian that you would seek to misjudge the Good Bishop like this?”
It is my conclusion, sadly though, that Dele’s article is basically another one in his now very famous series of Saturday Digests to push his Candidate Buhari [thank God he no longer denies this] and nothing more – and I must congratulate him for being able to maintain this ThisDay Back-page spot for so long that he has now become the official weekly rallying-point for all those supporting the Opposition, to the point that they now wait very religiously for his essays every other week as a tool to set the agenda for the incoming week on how they must fight and insult Jonathan for the next couple of days leading to the next article.
I close by remembering my conversation with my Egbon Dele when I ran into him at Eko Hotel only a couple of weeks ago, he had commended me for being respectful as I pushed my candidate while he and others pushed theirs – and I trust I have done the same thing within this write-up – what I didn’t have the time to tell him at the time though was how I frown at the way respected voices within this polity commit the act of Intellectual Dishonesty when they deliver lectures; write articles; and present positions that has to do with this polity – most especially when their major audiences are the younger generation that they are supposed to be helping find the right direction on the issues that pertain the nation – and Dele’s article in this case, falls sharply within that category.
Dele’s article can be viewed at – http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/the-pastors-and-the-rest-of-us/200569/
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