Some Christian groups, especially the Christian Association of Nigeria are still wondering why the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, is yet to speak out in the face of glaring cases of persecutions of Christians in certain parts of the country. They are indeed worried that His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is yet to utter a single work of condemnation against the recent rampaging of some Fulani herdsmen in the Southern- Kaduna where about 808 lives were reportedly lost with several others injured and properties worth of millions also destroyed. Such Christian groups rightly or wrongly hold the opinion that the Acting President as a Christian leader should be representing their interests and the interest of the Church at the seat of power in Abuja.
But unknown to his fellow brethren in the Christendom, the Acting President may actually be incapacitated in the real terms when it comes to devolution of power at the Presidency. Even though he may hold a joint-ticket with the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, some of the President’s aides may be more powerful than he in the exercise of Executive powers. He is carrying out the functions that are assigned to him by the President on the advice of trusted presidential aides and not necessarily by the powers conferred on the office of the Vice-President by the Constitution. During the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, it was a common knowledge that his Vice-Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was in charge of public corporations/companies. But that may not be the case under this current administration where the Chief of Staff to the President and Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF) seem to be more visible in the running of the state affairs than the Vice-President. And to avoid unnecessary bickering and acrimony in running the government, the Vice-President must have kept to whatever schedules that may be passed to him on the advice of top aides, who have the ears of the President.
Some weeks ago, a Christian group – Christian Social Movement paid the Vice-President a courtesy visit in his office at the Villa where the group reportedly raised the burning issue of concerted attempts to Islamise the country. It was during a ceremony in which the Vice-President was conferred with an award by the visiting officials of the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria when the group raised the contentious issue. And the Vice-President reportedly allayed their fears that nobody can Islamise the country while citing the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, which made no provision for a state religion. Being a Professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the Vice-President was relying on the Constitutional provisions, which guaranteed freedom of worship and association. Maybe, the Vice-President being a lawyer is not obvious of the fact that if the proponents of the purported Islamisation fail to achieve their aims through legislation, they may resort to violent means or use of brutal force as the case may be in some of the reported killings in certain parts of the country in which many Christians allegedly fell victims. As an erudite scholar and a brilliant lawyer, the Vice-President may be dwelling on theories while his brethren – his Christian brothers and sisters, who are feeling the pains where the shoe is pinching them are focusing on the practical. And the body language of those in authority -at the corridors/chambers of power does not help matters. And that was why some Christians thought and expected that the Acting President should choose to be different. But choosing to be different may amount to an act of disloyalty in the balance of power.
While we are not trying to hold brief for the Acting President for maintaining an ominous silence in the face of the alleged persecutions of his fellow Christians, who are outside the government, nobody can actually tell what he may be passing through and his secret pains as a Christian leader who found himself in the corridor of power amidst politicians who do not share the same belief with him and who may hold extreme divergent views as they affect separation of the affairs of the State from Religion.
Even though there may be logic in the African adage that says “if one is not in control of the sword, one should not dare to ask for the kind death that kills one’s father (ti owo eni ko ba te eku ida, a kii beere iku to pa baba eni),” yet the Vice-President should have issued a letter of condolence to commiserate with the orphans, the widows, the widowers and the bereaved families that were left behind by the victims of the Southern- Kaduna killings . That was the least the Vice-President could have done in the aftermath of the reported genocide that took place in the southern part of Kaduna assuming he has no authority or he was incapable of issuing a press release to condemn the killings in its entirety. His fellow brothers and sisters in the same Faith were actually expecting the Vice-President to identify with them in their moments of sorrow and severe pains in line with Biblical injunctions.
And if these afflictions are coming upon the Church as a result of our sins and especially those of our leaders- the Bishops, the General Overseers and Senior Pastors, may the LORD behold us with the eye of His great mercies and forgive us our sins in Jesus name.
The ominous signs remain that Islamic threats on the nation are real and they are getting more visible every day. And so no one should try to cajole us into believing otherwise. Who knows, it may be these Islamisation tendencies that form the bedrock of secessionist movements in certain parts of the country. There may be other factors but of a certainty, the suspected Islamisation of the country constitutes a major threat to the oneness and the continued peaceful co-existence of this nation as a united entity. Little wonder there was capital flight by our foreign investors, which has eventually landed us in the ongoing economic recession. Of course, no sane investor will venture to invest his/her capital in an economy where there is a recurrent fear of the unknown in the system.
Except we chose to be deceiving ourselves and raising our hopes on empty promises, there can be no true economic recovery or prosperity in the nation where there are suspected cases of injustice, inequalities or alleged persecutions of certain groups of people based on their religious or tribal backgrounds. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14: 34, KJV). And all unrighteousness is sin, from the Biblical point of view.
So, the choice is ours as a nation, if we want to be honest in our dealings with ourselves and maintain a good course in order for this nation to move forward and achieve her God designed good purpose by fulfilling her destiny in the comity of nations, as an emerging super-power economically, technologically, politically and militarily.
• Gbemiga Olakunle, JP is General Secretary, National Prayer Movement Abuja; [email protected]; gbemigaolakunle.blogspot.com