By Lukman Olabiyi Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 16, to rule on whether or not to discharge a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA ), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was charged with N2.6bn fraud. The court fixed the date Friday after hearing…
I don’t want to discuss the resignation of Pastor Enoch Adeboye. The matter borders on religion, which is usually a no-win case. Often defying logic!
Incidentally, in Nigeria, there’s no middle road on issues of religion. You’re either for or against. Painfully, there is no side of the religious divide that you line up against that does not have enough fanatics (and suicide bombers too) to make life unbearable for you. Of course, it does not matter that you have a most logical argument. When it comes to matters of religion in this clime, common sense takes flight.
So, there is no question of whether I’m standing with Jim Obazee, standing with Pastor Adeboye, sitting with the orthodox churches, fighting with the not-too-orthodox churches (that are already up in arms) or blowing hot and cold with a federal government that is yet to make up its mind over its own law.
I won’t, therefore, bother with looking at the rationale behind the action of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) or examining the pros and cons of the law Obazee was trying to enforce. That would anger both the mosques and the churches. So, I’ll just ride with the tide of emotions that has already consumed Obazee and the FRCN board – and is still thirsting for more blood. So, I won’t join the debate.
As for me, everybody is right – Obazee was right. Adeboye is right. The churches and mosques that complied are right. The ones that did not comply are right. The Federal Government that enacted the FRCN law is right. The same Federal Government is also right for sacking the FRCN board that tried to implement its own law. Similarly, those who claim the law was put in place in order to have a leash on these powerful clerics are right. But those who say there is no hidden agenda in the FRCN directives are also right. Those who say we should tax churches and mosques are right. Those who say we should not tax them are also right. And because everybody is right and nobody is wrong, I would also not question the warped thinking that informed the recommendation that church leaders should retire from their churches. Or whether the joke would not be stretched to a level whereby we now ask Buhari to retire from running his farm in Daura, in keeping with standard accounting practice. Welcome to the state of confusion! That’s what you get when we superimpose our religion (and other pecuniary interests) on our constitution. For when we do that, we’re already primed for failure.
In Nigeria, the religions – churches and mosques alike – are just as deadly as any mafia organisation can ever be. One careless comment, and you’d land yourself in one hell of a mess. It suddenly dawns on you that the man, who is to give the final nod on that contract you’ve been chasing since two years ago is a pastor or church worker with the church you just criticised. You kiss the contract goodbye. It does not matter whether what you say is the gospel truth.
You get to the court and discover that the cleric you’ve dragged before the court is the spiritual adviser of the judge. The seemingly inconsequential church (or mosque) a few blocks away from your home (and which loudspeakers blare directly into your bedroom cannot be sanctioned for noise pollution and/or invasion of your privacy, because the perm. sec. or D-G, who should take the action is a the Baba Ijo (of the church) or the Aare Adini (of the mosque).
The next Sunday, word would go round in church that your company’s products/services should be boycotted by adherents of the faith (for your comment would be interpreted to mean you’re fighting the church).
And if it is a mosque, during the Jumaat prayers on Friday, the imam would have a word or two to say about your criticisms. And woe betide you if you have any buildings or cars that can be burnt down. Arsonists would come visiting straight from the praying ground. Our country will remain in this state of flux until such a time we honestly resolve to put our constitution over and above everything else.
My only anger is that, in this matter – like in several other recent matters, the president was either misadvised, or genuinely misled. Now, he has been forced to be reactive, and wrongly appear to be battling to keep the RCCG votes in the kitty, ahead of 2019.
Of course, I have always had this suspicion that PMB is not getting the best of advice on several aspects of governance. Whether on the economy, foreign policy, the anti-graft war, party politics, or even the polity.
Even though I have never been a fan of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, I had cause to miss the old fox a few weeks ago, as I followed a seeming misadventure into The Gambia. It was during the visit of some African leaders to The Gambia – to plead with President Yahya Jammeh not to renege on his initial pledge to step down, after losing last December’s presidential election there.
I took one look at the group photograph from that meeting and shook my head. There was the Nigerian president, leader of the largest black nation on earth, looking lost in the midst of a handful of near-minions. Yes, even photo positions matter in international diplomacy! I just began to think of Balogun Owu with nostalgia. If it were OBJ, instead of going to Banjul, he’d have summoned Jammeh to Abuja. And Jammeh dare not fail to come.
OBJ, like he once did with the Sierra Leoneans during his tenure, would simply have reeled out a list of things he wanted done in The Gambia, handed the list to Jammeh, and the meeting would be over in 20 minutes. He did not need to threaten Jammeh with forceful overthrow before the Gambian leader would understand what OBJ and Nigeria were capable of. I sorely missed OBJ.
Of course, it’s not Buhari’s fault. I’m just pained that even in those areas where our president is clearly lacking capacity, he does not equally have the right people to advise him. All he has is a band of yes-men. Sycophants! All they seem to be doing is creating bad name for the president left, right and centre – as they try to impute their own selfish motives into their understanding of the infamous ‘body language’ of the president.
They raid the home of judges, and the president is left with the unenviable task of defending an action he, probably, was not properly briefed about prior to the raid. Or, at best, an action over which some smart Alec bamboozled him, without giving him the complete picture of the possible consequences. They rig elections and make PMB believe all went well. That the popularity of APC is soaring.
And while we are still at it, we are stunned with the story of the tapping of the phones of Governors Nyesom Wike and Ayo Fayose – both PDP governors. They probably told the president that it’s just a matter of getting smarter and deploying technology.
Painfully, everyone is keeping quiet. However, what probably took the trophy in this new emerging order, for me, was what I saw on my way to Bameina on New Year day.
Now, not too many people know whether Bameina is a can of paint or a fly on the wall. Or better still, whether it is in India, Ethiopia or the Caribbean.
Well, Bameina is a town in Birnin Kudu Local Government Area of Jigawa State. It is the homestead of Jigawa’s, arguably, most popular son, Dr. Sule Lamido, Second Republic lawmaker, protégé of Malam Aminu Kano, a founding father of PDP, former minister of foreign affairs and immediate past governor of the state. I had elected to celebrate the New Year with him in his village. But, I was not only delayed along the way, but was almost turned back by an intimidating police cordon.
I later learnt that they were acting on the usual order-from-above arrangement. Reason? Youths from as far as Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi and several other states across the country, under the auspices of the Jigawa PDP Consultative Forum, had chosen that day to go pay homage to Lamido, their leader and wish him a happy New Year. It was supposed to be a nonevent, but the powers that be – either in Dutse or Abuja, felt otherwise, and moved to abort the visit. That was how the police team got to be deployed there some 48 hours ahead of the planned visit. They even barricaded the road, leading into Lamido’s village.
That action literally gave the visit to Lamido’s house a lager than life image. Many of those who were turned back now followed bush parts. Some abandoned their vehicles and trekked over 15 kilometres to Lamido’s home.
And when yours sincerely, through the help of an experienced guide, made it to Lamido’s, the crowd was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Thousands of vehicles still made it to the village. Youths from as far as the Niger Delta were all there. It was a carnival. And what did the visitors do? They just sang and danced and drummed and made speeches. Nothing more!
And because the authorities had tried to stop them, word soon spread all over that a big thing was happening in Bameina. It was big alright, but it was made that big by the jittery action of those who think they love Buhari more than Buhari loves himself.
I doubt if Buhari knew anything about the police cordon, but it was PMB everybody blamed for it. That means the president would do himself a world of good to listen to other people outside of those presently around him, who are telling him what he wants to hear.