When the results of the Presidential and National Assembly polls which held across the nation on the 28th day of March were being announced, I was interested in the outcome for three major reasons. First, I wanted to know the consequence of the outgoing President’s virtual relocation to the South-West States, especially Lagos State where he almost took up permanent residence.
Second, I wanted to know the effect the dollar rain which escaped from the cumulonimbus clouds of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) would have on the political behaviour of Nigerians. Lastly, and, by far, the most important, I wanted to know if the prophecies of certain spectrum of the Christian clergy would assume a state of actuality.
With regards to the first concern, I am one of those who believe that if the polls had not been postponed from the earlier date of 14th February to the latter date of 28th March, the PDP would have suffered a crushing defeat. This belief is unconnected with the allegations of bias levelled against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the PDP over the manner the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) were being distributed. It even has less to do with the PDP’s unfounded allegation of an illusory grand conspiracy between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the INEC. This concern arose from an inherent understanding of the demographics of the presidential polls and the contributory role of the PDP, nay, its presidential candidate, in engendering such demographics. Dividing the nation along the ever combustible religious and ethnic lines, the President and his handlers failed to appreciate the political expedience of putting up a nationalistic façade, even if for the sake of appearance. The diatribe of the President’s wife, during her rally at Ibadan wherein she disparaged the cultural, nay, religious practice of the northern people by indefensibly describing them in this epithetical fashion as “people wey dey born children troway” ensured that the northern votes remained, if not for anything at least for the sake of religious and cultural pride, with one of their own. By choosing to be clannish, and benightedly embracing the primordial persuasion of religious bigotry, the PDP became blinded by its perception of the combined strength of the South-South and South-East votes. Further, it failed to recognise that the variables which combined fortuitously in favour of the incumbent in 2011 were no longer in existence. In their place was another set of variables chief among which were general disillusionment and disappointment with the President, heightened poverty, grinding corruption, parlous security situation, theoretical economic development, a railway system which conveniently became functional months to the 2015 polls, abrasive aides and cliquishly intolerant supporters who found pleasure in atavistic suasions. How the PDP and its army of political strategists failed to do the mathematics will remain a moot point among political pundits.
In my prognosis of the 2015 kerfuffle published on my Facebook Wall in 2013, I posited that whoever that hoped to become the next President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should fight for the soul of the South-West while also putting up a good outing in the North-Central. The PDP did not see the political relevance of the South-West. Conversely, it overestimated the political influence of its political elites in the North-Central Zone. By the time it eventually realised its precarious misreckoning, the polls were upon it. The purpose which the PDP-induced postponement served was only to give the PDP a fighting chance: it did not serve to guarantee it of electoral victory. One thing is certain: the results would have been embarrassingly overwhelming against the PDP if the elections had held in February.
Yet, the dollar-rain, as journalists came to describe the process of employing sleazy monetary inducement of the electorates prior to the elections, or stomach infrastructure as certain media practitioners choose to call it, as a form of damage control could not salvage whatever political fortune that was left of the PDP. Then, it was bruited that the President had doled out significant sums of money to outlawed socio-cultural organisations in the misbegotten hope of acquiring their endorsements. Not a few Nigerians questioned the political prudence of the President soliciting the support of felons who ought to be standing trial for treason and treasonous declarations in a sovereign entity. Not a few perceptive persons saw the manifest contradiction as akin to that of a house owner retaining the protective services of a bandit. What started as a rumour was given definitive confirmation when the leader of the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) revealed in an interview he granted to newsmen that, contrary to speculations that the President gifted the subversive organisation with over N9 Billion, the actual figure was in the neighbourhood of N4 Billion and the money, he further justified, was for the protection of oil pipelines and installations. http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/179053-while-tinubu-starved-us-jonathan-gave-us-multibillion-naira-pipeline-contracts-gani-adams.html. Before him, the President had awarded several contracts to key members of the Niger-Delta militant family; with High Chief Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a. Tompolo responsible for the procurement of warships and other military hardware for the nation’s military. http://www.punchng.com/news/ex-militant-tompolo-buys-six-warships/. This is in addition to the contract to protect oil pipelines and other installations. http://thenationonlineng.net/new/jonathan-okays-oil-jobs-for-tompolo-fasehun-others/. We will not seek to query why, in spite of the billions spent by the Federal Government of Nigeria on these skewed and unorthodox contracts, the incidence of oil theft assumed an alarming dimension, much that the erudite Professor Chukwuma Soludo posited that the nation was being deprived of the sum of about $60 Billion or N12.6 Trillion as a result of oil theft annually. That is more than the nation’s budget for three years! http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/soludo-replies-okonjo-iweala-alleges-n30tn-unaccounted-under-her-watch/200756/.
While these unorthodox contracts were awarded rather surreptitiously, with Nigerians becoming aware of their existence through the grapevine, it was no secret that the Nigerian film industry, popularly known by the nomenclature ‘Nollywood’, was the beneficiary of several interventionist funds from the Federal Government. And, then, there was the disturbing matter of traditional rulers, who ought to be fathers of all becoming actively involved in the campaigns of a particular party after being ‘settled’ by the politicians. It is however instructive to note that despite the slush funds deployed to lubricate the machinery of President Jonathan’s re-election bid, the people of Nigeria exercised their franchise in conformity with the dictates of their conscience. An example of such popular rebellion was the result of the presidential poll from Gani Adams’s ward where President Jonathan lost to his main challenger, General Muhammadu Buhari.But, in all these tales of filthy lucre, the loser is the Christian clergy. I do not want to say the Church, because there is a fundamental distinction between the Church and the clergy, so that, in the bid to denounce the reprehensible conduct of the clergy, one do not classify the two distinct entities in the same category. Even among the clergy, there are those whose calling cannot be impeached. Beginning from the day the South African immigration authorities intercepted a private jet loaded with foreign currency, with the former belonging to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor who, incidentally, is the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and the latter the purported property of the Nigerian Federation meant for the purchase of arms, a cross-section of the Christian clergy, without any pretensions to neutrality, shamelessly became partisan in the political contest. This they did without as much as considering that the Church, like any public institution, is populated by people of different political and ideological bias. Yet, they failed to understand that if there be a place where partisanship ought to be bowdlerised, it is the Church. It remains to be added that the only thing members of a particular Church have in common is doctrinal uniformity. Apart from this, members of a Church are as free as, say, members of the academia, to hold divergent political and ideological views without fear of any form of, or threat of temporal or supernatural retribution.
Yet, certain spectrum of the Church leaders chose to play the role of kingmakers in the build-up to the just concluded Presidential election. From Pastor Oritsejafor whose private jet was used, not for the propagation of the gospel, but to procure arms the purpose of which is lost today in the maze of speculation, to one Pastor Bosun Emmanuel the National Secretary-General of CAN whose infamous audio tape alleging some form of sinister Islamisation agenda of the APC served to cement his name in the forecourt of the house of obloquy, the Christian elders readily chose to be oblivious of the traditional African wisdom that whoever is the object of public spectacle should not wallow in detritus. When His Excellency, Right Honourable Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State raised an alarm that the Presidency had sowed the seed of N6 Billion in the lives of top Pastors in the CAN, not a few Nigerians believed him. When, however, Pastor Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa Executive Director of Voice of Northern Christian Movement and an associate pastor with the EYN Church addressed a Press Conference and informed Nigerians that the actual amount involved was N7 Billion and not N6 Billion, the CAN used the instrumentality of the Department of State Security (DSS) to hound him. http://leadership.ng/news/412848/jonathan-gave-can-n7bn-not-n6bn-pastor-dikwa-alleges. http://pointblanknews.com/pbn/exclusive/dss-invites-pastor-musa-dikwa-claimed-jonathan-gave-n7bn-can/.
But Nigerians were not fools. They knew those Pastors had eaten of the forbidden fruit when prophecies began to emanate from these clergies. Like an oversexed man starved of sex who made all manner of wild promises as he savoured the natural joys of copulation, Nigerian Christian clergies, delirium under the influence of N7 Billion and other offertories donated by these praetorian politicians, began to unleash positive prophecies on the President and his party. Nigerians heard Bishop David Oyedepo threatening to open the gates of hell on any of his members who voted against the outgoing President. Pastor Oritsejafor publically adopted the President as the candidate of CAN. Another vassal clergy in the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) claimed that God had chosen President Jonathan to lead the nation for the second time. Similarly, Prophet Joshua Iginla of the Champions Royal Assembly, Primate Elijah Ayodele Babatunde of the INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Apostle Johnson Suleiman of the Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo of the Kingsway International Christian Centre and Prophet Michael Olubode of the Celestial Church of Christ, Lagos all assured Nigerians that the President would retain his seat.
Those prophecies were evocative of a particularly instructive incidence in the Holy Bible as recorded in I Kings 22:1 – 39. The King of Israel, Ahab, prepared to engage the armies of Syria in a decisive battle over the ownership of Ramoth-Gilead. King Jehoshaphat of Judah agreed to join forces with him on the condition that prophets be consulted to inquire if God approved of the military expedition. All the four hundred prophets who Ahab assembled agreed that King Ahab would be victorious in the war. One of them, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, added a touch of drama to his prophecy when he constructed horns of iron and assured King Ahab that he would employ those to push the Syrians away from Romoth-Gilead. Dissatisfied, King Jehoshaphat of Judah wondered if those were the only prophets in Israel. King Ahab replied that there was one left, not his favourite, he warned, since he had never prophesied anything good unto him. At King Jehoshaphat’s request, Micaiah the son of Imlah was brought before the two royalties. Courageous as he was, and against the plaintive advice of the messenger who was sent to call him that he should bring his prophecy into conformity with the prophecies of the other prophets, Micaiah warned Ahab that he would die in the battle. Enraged, King Ahab ordered that the prophet be remanded in prison custody. As he was being led away, Micaiah made the following declaration: “Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets, and he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.” Ahab died in the battle. Like the prophecies of those four hundred prophets, the naked dance of Nigerian clergies which prophesied good unto the outgoing President has detracted from their respectability and credibility. With the results of the election, Nigerian Christians, nay, the entirety of the Nigerian populace, now have cause, more than ever before, to question the authenticity of the calling of these men who address themselves as men of God.
This spectrum of the Nigerian clergy which is the Nigerian replication of the four hundred prophets of King Ahab worships a common deity: its belly. Collectively, this spectrum should be addressed by the proper appellative designation of the Parish of Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot was that disciple of Jesus Christ who betrayed his master to the Jews for thirty pieces of silver. Eventually, he was overcome with remorse and returned the said money to the Jews before hanging himself. These Nigerian clergies betrayed the collective trust of their parishioners and other Nigerians who looked up to them for spiritual and other guidance. They are like the Church in Sardis which had a name that it was alive, yet it was dead. Though these clergies may be alive physically, spiritually they are as dead as Judas Iscariot.
Ogbu, Blessing Ekpere, Esq. a Legal Practitioner, writes in from Abuja
One particular Minister who craved anonymity has called for the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan for conceding defeat graciously. In other reports, several Nigerians, especially those whose roles prior to the election had been less than dignified, have made similar calls.
Incumbents have been known to concede defeat, not just in the so-called advanced democracies, but also in Africa. Aden Abdullah Osman Daar of Somalia conceded defeat to his opponent Abdirashid Ali Shermarke in the 1967 Somalian presidential elections. First President of Zambia, Kenneth David Kaunde lost to Frederick Chiluba in the 1991 polls and bowed out graciously. Rupiah Bwezani Banda also of Zambia made no fuss about relinquishing presidential powers to Opposition Leader Michael Sata in 2011. Similarly, in 2011, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal handed over to Opposition Leader Macky Sall in 2012.
It is a testimonial of how far we have sunk in the valley of mediocrity that what is the norm in other climes is invested with that quality of extraordinariness here. It remains to be added that President Jonathan’s concession of defeat did not germinate from any altruistic motivations. Two of my good friends have captured the situation apophthegmatically.
Lucky Chambers Umezulike wrote on his Facebook Wall:
“People that are suggesting Nobel Peace Prize for President Jonathan because he conceded don’t actually know the meaning of Nobel Peace Prize.”
Oni Kayode Philips also known as Oni Naijamaican Qayoday also wrote on his Facebook Wall:
“I won’t HAIL a captain who agrees to leave the cabin not because he wants the ship to SAIL but because he wants to avoid JAIL.”
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