(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, October 1, 2018)
The Ark of Noah offered man redemption after God’s anger rained a retributive deluge which submerged the earth and its sins thousands of years ago. Surely, the ways of God are not the ways of man. I remember the hymn, ‘God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform…’ Who but God could make the tiger live peaceably with the lamb inside an ark for many months without shedding blood? Who could make the deer enjoy a sound, bloodless sleep in the sight of the lion, but God?
The cat and the mouse must have fed from the same trough while the chicken playfully pecked the underbelly of the fox lying face up and the rat snored right on the head of king cobra. What a deathless existence! What a world of strange bedfellows! Though science called the Great Flood a myth, religious scholars would hit the bull’s-eye by unraveling to the unbelieving world when, why and how some of the predatory animals in Noah’s Ark lost their innocence and began to thirst for the blood of their fellow survivors. I think the descent into bestiality must be after the ark finally disgorged its content and every animal kind went their way. What could be the cause of the descent? Definitely not any sin committed by animals! Or are animals capable of sinning and earning punishment? Our religious leaders would earn more respect on earth and treasures in paradise if they could come up with answers to knotty religious questions – instead of competing with politicians in obscene wealth acquisition and display.
I can’t explain why none of our crowd-pulling pastors and imams could make the popular Ibadan musician walk – despite him churning out hits upon hits, narrating his desire to walk. One of Nigeria’s greatest comedians, the late Tajudeen Gbadamosi, popularly known as Jacob, also lived in Ibadan, where he made fame alongside his alter egos, Papalolo and Aderupoko. Jacob was a hunchback from the cradle to the grave and a cleric would have drawn multitudes to God if he or she healed Jacob. The late Benjamin Aderounmu, popularly known as Kokoro, the minstrel, was a prince of Owo in Ondo State, who thrilled Nigerians with his unique solo tambourine music. He became blind at the age of 10.
No cleric could make him see until he died on January 25, 2009, aged 84. Yet, most religious conventions and deliverance services witness ‘earth-shaking’ miracles restoring sight to the sightless, power to lame limbs and the raising of a countless Lazaruses from the dead. But I’ve neither come across a blind nor a deaf or a dumb whose affliction was cast out by a Nigerian cleric. Or, have you? Nothing highlights the falsehood characterizing deliverance services in Nigeria than the religious video, “Pamela, why,” which starred South African pastor, Alph Lukau. Anyone who believes that viral video needs true deliverance.
Noah redeemed humanity; can our religious leaders do the same, too?
Save for few of our clerics, who constantly speak truth to power, chief among who are Pastor Tunde Bakare, Pastor Sam Adeyemi, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, Nigeria is in dire need of more religious leaders who wouldn’t be silent in the face of debilitating misgovernment. I remember Jesus spoke against societal ills, criticizing the Sadducee political class and the hypocritical Pharisees.
Today is October 1, Nigeria’s Independence Day. It won’t be wrong if clerics, today, take a critical appraisal of happenings within the polity, and speak up against government’s obvious inactions, pervasive collusion and corruption. I’m aware the Baptist, Catholic, Anglican and Methodist churches periodically comment on political happenings in the country, but I strongly believe that a much more frequent and robust intervention is long overdue. The church and the mosque must be interested in democracy and show commitment in nurturing it by preaching feasible wealth creation on the altar of good governance. Assuring the populace of miraculous wealth acquisition if they worship in a particular mosque or pay tithe to a particular church is the most corrosive chemical needed to create a dysfunctional citizenry, who would see the offer by politicians to buy their votes as prayer answered. Most of the country’s famous clerics sit on billions of dollars worth religious establishments without harnessing the potential of their personal influences in ordering socio-economic change. Can you imagine how the face of public schools and hospitals would change for the better if Nigeria’s top-20 pastors and imams tell their congregations to rehabilitate public schools and hospitals? It’s true that Nigeria’s current political predicament wasn’t directly caused by the clergy, but they have a lot to do in solving it.
A strong wind blew in Osun on Saturday, September 22, 2018, and with it came a downpour. The downpour caused tension as people anxiously looked for the deluge to dry up and a rainbow to appear in the firmament. The flood didn’t abate and no rainbow showed in the sky. A stalemate ensued. It was after another rainfall five days later that a rainbow finally appeared amid accusations and counter-accusations. The deluge rocked the political ships on River Osun. And a Yoruba proverb says when rain falls, the partridge and the chicken cohabit. This was true of the Osun governorship election, which culminated in a rerun on September 27, 2018. It’s only the Osun deluge that could make the partridge strut hand in hand on land with the chicken – like it was in the Ark of Noah which created a classless existence. In keeping the inviolability of their permanent interests, sworn enemies suddenly turned friends and the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Iyiola Omisore, became a crucial factor in determining who wins between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.
The SDP candidate, whose surname means ‘Water is useful’, knew the two leading parties in the election would come seeking his support. He itemized his demands and waited. People thought that being his political party a few months back, the PDP would easily get Omisore’s support, and go ahead to clinch the governorship. Senate President Bukola Saraki was the first caller at Omisore’s Ile-Ife home. Many expected Omisore to endorse the PDP forthwith, but he was circumspect, saying he’s given his party’s demands to Saraki to study. Then came emissaries from President Muhammadu Buhari, who turned Omisore’s house into a tourist centre. Ekiti governor-elect, Kayode Fayemi, opened talks with Omisore. Six governors and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, among others, were also part of the delegation to Omisore. At the end of deliberations, Omisore agreed to work with the APC, a party which had consistently accused him of being culpable in the 2001 killing of a former Justice Minister and Attorney General, Chief Bola Ige, despite the Supreme Court declaring him innocent. Omisore wouldn’t have been swayed by the impressive array of the APC personalities that negotiated with him if he wasn’t planning to avenge his forced exit from the PDP during the countdown to the opposition party’s governorship primary from which Ademola Adeleke emerged as the candidate. The bitterness of the crisis ostensibly explains why no Osun PDP member could visit Omisore to negotiate for Adeleke. APC candidate, Gboyega Oyetola, reaped from the PDP crisis, emerging as governor after the rerun marked by violence in Ife and Orolu areas amid massive vote buying. The outcome of the election shows an embittered citizenry which Oyetola must earnestly pacify. The masses voted on September 22 and 27, it’s now the turn of lawyers to vote at tribunals.
Today, the President would perform the yearly independence ritual of assuring Nigerians of security and socio-economic growth, but the threat by Boko Haram terrorist to kill kidnapped schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, on Independence Day speaks volumes of the president’s empty reassurances.
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