When sheer ignorance degenerates into pure political mischief, couched in sleazy slogans, guttersnipe language and derogating doggerels, all with the mandate of the pull-him-down syndrome, especially from so-called social commentators, there is cause for serious societal concern. Also, when an issue that is strictly within the purview of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has seen those same mischief-makers climbing the rooftop to literally cry more than the bereaved, Nigerians cannot but begin to ask the pertinent questions.
The first, of course, is to find out if indeed Pastor Femi Taiwo, whose sack has triggered his sympathisers’ sentimental angst, was under the employment of Lagos State government? The answer is “yes.” He was, until recently, the chaplain of the Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Ikeja, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, as part of the office of the First Lady and owned by the state government. And if so, has that government got the mandate to hire and fire him, and any other civil servant for acts of gross misconduct? The response again is another resounding “yes!”
But what about the First Lady, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode; has she got the constitutional power to sack any civil servant? Of course not. Yet, one Paul Onomuakpokpo in his recent puerile piece on the said matter tried, but vainly too, to convince his readers to that effect. He wrote: “The state government does not want us to link the ordeal of the pastor to the insufferable arrogance of the governor’s wife. It wants us to accept that the pastor had been a serial offender and it was the culmination of his offences that led to the termination of his employment and eviction.” We may not blame him based on his crass ignorance of the acts of misdemeanor his good friend has committed.
For instance, he might not have known that the good pastor flouted the church rules by going behind it to seek for N75m to fund a questionable youth empowerment programme. We may also forgive Paul for being ignorant of the pastor’s mania for money, leading him to collect another N40m outside the knowledge of the church council. A “poor pastor” indeed!
Furthermore, it is utterly saddening for the concerned writer to have delved so morally low as to describe Mrs. Ambode as Lady Macbeth. Said he: “The period unveiled a Lady Macbeth in the Lagos State house and that while the state government was valourising democracy, which privileges the will of the people, it was at the same time serving one of its residents a robust measure of authoritarianism.” He should have known much better.
Contrary to that erroneous insinuation, those who have had the opportunity to meet with her on a personal basis would testify to Mrs. Ambode as being imbued with virtues of humility and commitment to the service of God. These are inborn attributes that have seen her rise to become a Deacon in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
In fact, not a few critical observers of the exemplary achievements of her husband within two years in office have attributed it all to his God-sent wife. She has been a conscientious companion, a confidant and prayer warrior. Such a virtuous woman would never, ever engage in acts capable of undermining her husband’s career success. But the writer wants the public to believe otherwise. In his words: “The governor’s wife might have read somewhere the blurred lines between the state and the church in medieval times. Unfortunately for her, the state now should not be concerned with running the affairs of the church.”
Not done, he degenerated so abysmally low as to ask this quaint question: “If the state government were really concerned about the religious wellbeing of its people, why did it not build houses of worship for other religious adherents?”
So, we have to ask him if he would have raised so much dust and dirt, if the Ambode-led government had built such Babalawo and Olorisha shrines and sacked any of the priests? Ha! Ha!
Perhaps, Onomuakpokpo should also have vented his spleen, when erstwhile Governor Babatunde Fashola sacked Pastor Olu Adeleke, his personal assistant on Christian Affairs, collected his car and chased him out of office and residence within 24 hours!
Truth be said, those who live in glass houses must never throw stones. And one should exercise much moral restraint; critically study circumstances surrounding decisions made by government before casting aspersions. Honour must be given to who it is due. “Giving honour to whom honour is due” is a biblical principle. Paul emphasised this point in his letter to the Roman church, “Render (give) therefore to all (not some or just select individuals) their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Rm. 13:7).
For now, the governor has his attention fully focused on delivering on the promises he and his party, APC made to the good people of Lagos during the campaigns than being distracted by spurious allegations based on senseless sentiments. CAN has taken its position that the sacking of Pastor is in tandem with its rules and regulations. So should it be. Anyone who feels aggrieved should know what next step to take.
The current conspiracy against the First Lady and by extension her husband is one from the pit of hell, which will never succeed. Those involved are well advised to channel their energy to worthwhile ventures, or better still, to engage in matters that would add value to the lives of Lagosians, who are unanimous in their applause for the people’s governor by his sterling achievements.
•Adeleke writes from Lagos