By James Ogunjimi
The activities of the last one week have presented learning points for those who want to learn. In this age and time, ignorance is a choice.
First, it was Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal’s daughter’s wedding. The Hisbah commission – the body charged with enforcing Sharia Law in Sokoto – had stormed the venue of the wedding. When they couldn’t find the Dj to arrest, they seized the musical instruments and left with them. The response was swift. The next day, the Sokoto state Hisbah Commission was dissolved.
Next, there came the issue of the retirement of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) because of a law made by the Financial Regulation Council of Nigeria (FRCN). As soon as the retirement became public, the same week, the Executive Secretary of the FRCN, Mr. Jim Obazee was sacked by the Federal Government.
Now, there are folks who will go to town singing the ‘touch not my anointed’ anthem. There are those who will die defending the fact that religious houses should not have any interference from the Government. But for those who want to learn, these are the learning points:
1. The Government knows how to respond when it is affected. Sometimes, there’s a bomb blast or a national disaster and you wait and wait for Government to respond. But you get no response. In the case of Babachir and Buratai, there was a national wait during which everyone hoped the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal would be fired. It never happened. General Buratai’s Dubai properties should have gotten him fired. It never happened. General Dambazzau’s involvement in the ARMS scandal should have gotten him fired. It never happened. The havoc being wreaked by herdsmen all over the country should have elicited a strong response. It never happened. The recurrent Kaduna massacre never got a national response. But when the ruling class is directly affected, it does not matter party, religion or tribe, they react instantly and leave no doubt at all that they mean business. The response in Sokoto was immediate. The response in sacking the FRCN boss was instant too.
2. Religious leaders are hypocrites. This is politically-incorrect but I swore at the beginning of this year that I would be as politically-incorrect as possible. So, here goes. The Church can stand up to influence the actions of government when it affects their leadership but will be mute when Government fucks the citizens over.
When Government messes with ordinary Nigerians, the preachers tell them to submit to authority and pray about it but the church is affected today and people are getting fired. When Government implements policies that don’t favour citizens, the preachers tell them to fast and pray about it. When citizens want to protest government’s actions, the preachers tell them to submit to authority and pray about it. But government tries to regulate the church and suddenly it is no longer enough to leave it to God. Suddenly it is no longer enough to fast and pray about it. The church drags government to court and when they lose, they use their people in high places to get the enforcer of the law fired.
When Eunice Elisha was murdered, the RCCG called her a martyr. No warning to government. No ultimatums. Over 800 Christians were killed in Southern Kaduna, no word, nothing. But government tries to tamper with the number of years they spend as preachers and all hell must be let loose.
The preachers are part of the problems of this country. They travel to other countries and see how government regulates religion. The branches of their churches in other countries submit to these kind of regulations. When they travel to the UK, they get a license as Minister of Religion before they can preach. When they travel to the US, they apply for permits to preach. But when government tries to do the same thing in Nigeria, they kick and scream, they allege persecution, they threaten to call down fire and brimstone. Why?
Because Nigeria is a dumping ground where anything and everything goes. Because it is in their interest that Nigeria should never work. Because a Nigeria that works will never permit their shenanigans and robbery in the name of “sowing seed”. Because a Nigeria that works will have a working health care program that will put an end to the dependence of people on religious houses for health solutions. Because a Nigeria that works will see salaries being paid which will put an end to people going to “sow seeds” in church because they want emergency money. Because a Nigeria that works will have good roads and a working body to regulate road users and that will make it unnecessary to go to church to bind and cast before traveling.
Those who want to learn can learn and those who want to live, defending people who will not defend them are constitutionally empowered to do so too. Defending religious or political leaders who won’t do same for you is a waste of time and energy.
In the end, everyone always realises the truth. Some will learn easy while some will be force-fed reality.