Buhari: The Politics of Religion, By Tam David West
Every Nigerian to the last person agrees that the greatest impediment to our quest for robust national growth and development (economic or political) as well as needed progress is bad leadership. The main existential ingredients of which are: Corruption, lack of integrity, lack of principle, indiscipline, unreliability, visionlessness, and power intoxication.
Furthermore, all these undesirables are even compounded with arrogance of power manifest in reckless and careless impunity in exercising power, with the power elite or leadership being deluded into baselessly believing in its invincibility. The great Chinua Achebe in his famous work, “The Trouble With Nigeria” was unequivocal in identifying bad leadership as central to all our national problems.
Things seem not to have changed over time. Writer (or analyst) after writer still see bad leadership as our major problem. For instance, one of our leading writers, Steve Nwosu, ‘celebrated’ our 54th year independence anniversary with his beautiful, “At 54, leadership remains our key challenge” (Daily SUN October, 01, 2014 back page).
Chiedu Uche Okoye; in a similar vein also wrote “Nigeria at 54: The Journey So Far.” (Daily SUN October 01, 2014 page 21) He submitted (and I totally go along): “Nigeria has the potential to become an economically and technologically advanced country, but inept and corrupt political leadership stands on our way to development…our leaders perceive leadership as an opportunity to amass wealth by corrupt means.”
Corruption, that ugly monster; militating against our national growth, development and progress has become such an integral part of our national ethos that one of Nigeria’s most distinguished sons, Alhaji Shehu Musa, scholar, intellectual and administrator (he was once Secretary to the Federal Government and Head of Service) bemoaned: “In Nigeria, it is not just that officials are corrupt, but that corruption is official. It is more so both in public and private sector. Anybody who does not do so is seen as a fool.” (This Day Sunday October 05, 1997 page 11 column 4 last paragraph)
No wonder Transparency International couple of years ago rated us among three “most corrupt” countries in the world. Indeed, corruption has become so “official,” and as such defines our national character that Nigeria is the only country in the world, which shamelessly makes provisions for corruption in our annual national budget. For instance, it has been established by many well-meaning Nigerians that the so-called much orchestrated petroleum subsidy does not exist. It is all fraud against the state benefiting few corrupt unpatriotic Nigerians.
General Muhammadu Buhari, who was once in charge of the nation’s petroleum enterprise has stated, nay asserted, repeatedly that the said petroleum subsidy does not exist. It is fraud. Gani Fawehinmi (late) even published a monograph on this fraudulent practice. A professor of Petroleum Studies also published articles to buttress this. On my part, I also wrote similar articles; and also spoke publicly in rallies or lectures on this petroleum subsidy fraud. Furthermore, the government has also confirmed this monumental fraud through its probe or investigation panels.
However, in spite of all these, the same government goes ahead to make annual budgetary provisions in trillions of Naira for ‘petroleum subsidy.’ Corruption exists in Nigeria because the system we operate encourages as well as condones corruption. Corrupt public thieves are even sometimes decorated with National Honours. We com¬ songs to honour corrupt persons. We dance and wine with them. A country where the president unabashedly asserts with curious audacity that stealing is different from corruption cannot be serious. However, corruption will stop when correct and knowledgeable leadership emerges to face it head on. It can be done. Yes. All we need is good and clean leaders.
“My dear people, corruption remains a big challenge in our national life. It corrodes our efforts at development and at motivating competence in critical sectors of our economy.” (President Jonathan’s Declaration Speech November 11, 2014).
In the light of the above, one is forced to observe, nay acknowledge, a saddening paradox in our aversion and verbalized fight against corruption. We tend to be curiously ambivalent. For instance, we are unquestionably against corruption and its detrimental effects on our national development, growth and progress.
But we also tend to be scared of leaders who are generally adjudged to be incorrupt, disciplined and of impeccable integrity. And such leaders are the ones that can seriously combat corruption head on and capitulate it so that we can have or enjoy a refreshing breath of life in the national economy, for the great majority of the public – greatest happiness for the greatest number.
This naturally brings me to what I call, the ‘Buhari Phenomenon.’ All sincere and serious-minded Nigerians agree that General Muhammadu Buhari is NOT corrupt. Incorruptible. Disciplined. Patriotic. Man of impeccable integrity. His detractors or traducers, even the rabid ones have failed woefully over the years to put any stain on his integrity or claim to incorruptibility. He has over time also personally challenged his traducers or detractors to prove him wrong. This was not a parade of self-righteousness but justified solid self-confidence. An “extra-ordinary Nigerian!” (General Abdulsalami Abubakar)
Suffice it to say that none of them was bold enough or confident enough to pick up the gauntlet. They chickened out, lily livered. This is clearly because they know all too well that they cannot counter his impeccable records on integrity and or non-corruption and honesty. Buhari’s words and actions are never divergent. He is a man of his words. Like Oliver Goldsmith, Buhari believes that we can preach better sermons with our lives than with our lips. Leadership by personal examples! “A good example is the best sermon.” (Fuller)
Alexander Pope is correct that “An honest man is the noblest work of God.” Buhari has popularly earned the sobriquet, ‘Mai gaskiya,’ Hausa, meaning an ‘honest man.’ Most justified.
General Buhari’s integrity, discipline, ability and capability as a person and also as a leader have been publicly and independently acknowledged by many (even from most unlikely sources): General Obasanjo, General Yar’Adua, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, even Asari Dokubo, President Jonathan’s foremost megaphone; (not necessarily with much content) among many others. I have over time assembled over 20 of such refreshing testimonies.
Let me use selected very few:
“Major General Muhammadu Buhari, an extra-ordinary Nigerian, matched only by few in integrity and readiness to subject himself to the demands of public office…..abiding concern for the fate and welfare of the people of this great country.” (General Abdulsalami Abubakar). Forward to the book, “Who Really Is General Muhammadu Buhari?”
“General Muhammadu Buhari is a man of principle and moral absolutes who has made a name for probity and integrity. By all standards, Buhari has proved an extra-ordinary Nigerian in and out of uniform.” (General Abdulsalami Abubakar).
“Nigeria in its current dire straits needs Buhari more than he needs Nigeria.” Femi Orebe (The Nation on Sunday September 28, 2014 page 18).
I totally go along with Mr. Orebe.
General Buhari as president is coming to solely serve the nation for the sake of noble service to country. He is not going to loot. He did not ever stain himself in such corruption even as a much younger person in spite of being responsible for important ‘juicy’ national assignments: Commissioner (Minister) of Petroleum Resources. Executive Chairman Petroleum Special Task Force. Military Governor, North-Eastern State; the largest state in the Federation. It is now carved out into six states: Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Yobe, Taraba and Gombe.”
At 73 in 2015 as president, Buhari will be solely interested in turning things round for the better for the country, greatest happiness for the greatest number in every aspect of the national economy. Nigeria will be his sole focus. He will empty self of self; selfless service. I put my honour on this. And I am optimistic I will be richly vindicated.
“General Buhari is known all over the country as a decent untainted person.” Femi Orebe (The Nation on Sunday October 26, 2014 page 16).
For 2015, I make bold to assert (with documented evidence) that none of the other aspirants for the Presidency can match Buhari on integrity, non-corruption, disci¬pline and selfless service. He is the poorest aspirant to the presidency. A national daily in 2007 also rated him a “shallow purse” on a scale of deep purse and medium purse.
Furthermore, none of them can match him on the question of patriotism. As a military man, he put his very life on line to fight to keep Nigeria one country. Let me be specific. Buhari performed outstand¬ingly in the crucial ‘Ogoja Battles’ of the Civil War. He was Battalion Commander; and later Brigade Major and Commander of the famous 4th Infantry Brigade, Second Sector 1st Division of the Nigerian Army. The capture of Ogoja was decisive to the Federal victory (Major-General Alexander A. Madiebo in his (The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War Chapter 7).
Another testimony of Buhari’s outstand¬ing patriotism was when a neighbouring country invaded and occupied parts of Nigeria during President Shehu Shagari’s administration. Buhari counter attacked, drove out the invading foreign army in a devastating defeat. He gave them “bloody nose” (his very words) before he saw the Commander-in-Chief’s signal to “hankali hankali.” Great for Nigeria! Great for all Nigerians. He made us proud; very proud.
It could therefore be argued that, that President Jonathan is president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria today is partly (in fact largely) because of Buhari’s (and colleagues) military successes.
More tributes and testimonies:
Buhari “A first class officer, very brave, but very calm, even under pressure; absolutely calm, he has first class discipline and integrity and tends to insist on such qualities in his subordinates both officers and men to measure up to his own stands – General Martin Adamu (In: “Muhammadu Buhari Nigeria’s Seventh Head of State” page 84).
Buhari, “he was as reliable as he was hard working” (General Obasanjo In: “Not My Will” page 153/154).
Asari Dokubo, “I prefer Buhari” (Today’s Top News January 26 – February 1, 2005 Front page). Asari Dokubo dismissed both Obasanjo and Atiku for the 2007 presidential election. He believed that Buhari is better than both of them. The reasons (Buhari’s defining qualities) for this conclusion are still as solid as they were then.
It is, therefore, a most unfortunate paradox that the very widely acknowledged positive sterling qualities of General Buhari, as a good leader (President), who can turn things round for the better for Nigeria are the same defining qualities that his detractors and traducers in concert have over time in their convenient spins, distortions and disinformation orchestrated in their campaign of calumny against him in his bid for the Presidency through democratic means.
This type of paradox is addressed in my Essay: “Disqualifying Virtues” (Weekend Concord 07 October 2000 page 18).
The gang of Buhariphobics, I accept, has constitutional right to dislike him just as we, his admirers, also enjoy our constitutional right to be so disposed. However, for the phobics and the admirers, it is moral imperative to be honest and truthful. Facts not fiction. Truthfulness not fabrications in articulating our position with the public. We should also be honourable. It seems an uneven battle. For instance, the anti-Buhari has handsome sources of money to buy pages of the print media. Their sponsors also splash them generously with Naira (mostly looted) to attack Buhari. But refreshingly, lies must eventually collapse face to face with facts.
Some of these attacks on Buhari were so satanic and empty of serious contribution. For instance, Adebayo Williams described one of Wole Soyinka’s anti-Buhari philippics as “dripping with venom and vitriol” (The Nation 21 January, 2007). Must we descend so low? It proves nothing. Must we allow our obsessional mindset to fly out of decency? My attention was called recently to a repeat publication, as advert, of Wole Soyinka’s long anti-Buhari discourse presumptuously titled “General Buhari versus Nigeria.” Presumptuous, because Soyinka cannot equate with Nigeria. He is not even selected by Nigerians to be their spokesman. I will very much like to believe that Wole Soyinka was not playing Louis XIV of France, who vaunted that he is the state of France itself.
“Wole Soyinka versus Buhari” or “General Buhari versus Wole Soyinka,” I think it is patently more appropriate because all the views expressed are Soyinka’s – his natural and constitutional right. And I respect this even though I am completely against them with good cogent reasons.
Another vitriolic philippic against Buhari was as usual pompously and presumptuously titled, “The Nigerian Nation Against Buhari.” World Press Conference! Haba, Wole.
Because the anti-Buhari are handsomely financed, the Soyinka’s piece on Buhari published in 2007 was re-run as full page advert in The Guardian October 19, 2014 page 40.
It is significant and instructive that Chief Duro Onabule’s well-researched, detailed incisive rejoinder, “If General Obasanjo, Why Not General Buhari?” (Daily SUN 26 January, 2007 page 7) was not referenced. Chief Onabule, with detailed references to history and literature completely made nonsense of Soyinka’s treatise.
The Onabule’s counter-essay is published in my “The Sixteen ‘Sins’ of General Muhammadu Buhari” page 109-121. Courtesy Chief Onabule and The Sun Publishing Limited. One of the best rejoinders I have ever read in scholarship, maturity and thoroughness.
The Buhari phobics also acknowledge his defining sterling qualities of impeccable integrity and discipline, which place him much above all his contemporaries. However, because of their obsessional aversion purely for personal reasons (even though they pretend that their object is for the general good). Lie! They spin lies about him. They distort, disinform, misinform and manipulate to divert the unsuspecting public from the outstanding credentials of Buhari. Their first ploy was to list a number of so-called sins or misdeeds of Buhari. But they are all blatant lies.
These bunch or gang of anti-Buhari lie with audacious impunity! Some of them with great learning and intellectual decorations, relying on their silver tongue calculate that the public will follow them as the pipe piper of Hamelin to crucify Buhari in spite of their lies about him. They seem to forget in spite of their great learning that truth, like cork cannot sink. It can’t be sunk. Never. Never.
Furthermore “Truth, crushed to the ground shall rise again.” (Bryant). “Truth is immortal, error is mortal.” (Mary Baker).
I, sometimes feel some rather strange pity for these anti-Buhari liars, especially when one of them once even publicly lied about the class of his first degree and also the institution. I disciplined myself, in spite of him, not to reach out to his jugular. Many of my friends agreed with me. Matter closed for now at least.
In my 151-page “The Sixteen ‘Sins’ of General Muhammadu Buhari” I exposed and also debunked with copious evidence and documents all the so-called concocted ‘sins’ of Buhari:
“N2.8 billion” poppycock. “53 suitcases” tommyrot. “PTF” nonsense. “Ooni of Ife-Emir of Kano” rubbish. “Siege of Chief Awolowo’s house” disinformation, etc. etc. etc. All heaps of monstrous lies. I challenged the anti-Buhari to a public debate. I am still waiting even after two years. Let the public judge.
Having failed in the above ploy on lies against Buhari, they decided to try two other diversions to administer their hidden personal obsessional hate. The first was that at 73 in 2015 he will be too old for the Presidency. Untenable. My “Buhari: The Politics of Age” (Daily SUN October 14, 2014 back page) once again knocked them out – not “TKO” real “KO”). I gave a list of 15 Presidents/Heads of State both Africans and not of Africa much older than Buhari. The case of Robert Michael Mugabe was left out by the printers’ devil. President Mugabe is 90 years, 2014. He has only recently won another landslide election for six years tenure. This means that he will still be president of Zimbabwe at age 96. He could be father of Buhari.
The next on this sterile age tommyrot is the case of Nana Akuffo Ado, leader of Ghana’s Opposition Party, New Patriotic Party. He is 70 yet his party continues to elect him as its presidential candidate for the third time. I must once again appreciate my adored friend, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla for assistance.
Now, having failed woefully in their campaign of calumny with their lies, concoctions, distortions, misinformation and disinformation these shameless lazy to research bunch of Buhari phobics have resorted to the Religious Question as the next red herring to divert attention from General Buhari’s unassailable credentials for leadership (The Presidency) – zero-tolerance for corruption. Disciplined. Focused. Impeccable integrity. They have conveniently avoided these imperatives of good leadership in their philippics; very instructive indeed.
Even President Jonathan in his recent address at his Declaration for a shot again for The Presidency in 2015 was unequivocal that “Corruption remains a big challenge in our national life. It corrodes our efforts at development….”
He implicitly admitted failure or incapability to combat and destroy corruption. He knows, just as many Nigerians that he cannot contest the moral turf with Buhari.
On the: Religious Question or the Politics of Religion the anti-Buhari resort to the following ploys:
First, Buhari is a Fundamentalist Muslim.
Secondly, he hopes to have a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the Presidency in 2015.
Thirdly, he will Islamise Nigeria.
Fourthly, APC, his party, is a Muslim (Islam party).
Let me say right away, before I address the specifics, that all of these charges like the ones before are arrant nonsense, tommyrot, poppycock. Heap of rubbish! I believe that any serious minded and responsible Nigerian should see them as such. No shred or even atom of fact (truth) to substantiate these reckless charges borne out of frustration and desperation.
The anti-Buhari in their haste to paint him dark confused Religious Fundamentalism with Religious Extremism. The former is in fact complimentary. Fundamentalism: the practice of following very strictly the basic rules and teachings of any religion (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary New 7th Edition 2006). The Buhari traducers are so rabid with hate they refused to listen to his refutals and evidences to prove them wrong. For instance, “I am not a religious fundamentalist. The question of being an Ayatollah and a fundamentalist does not even arise. People are being dishonest. Nigerian politics! Give a dog a bad name and hang him.
“I commanded units, formation from platoon to division, including UNO. And most of my staff officers were Christians. I have challenged you, the press several times, go and find out whether I have ever treated anybody differently either because of different religion unfairly or different tribe. And I have gone through all the positions. I was governor of a state that is now six states. I was petroleum minister. I was Head of State and I have never been accused for intimidating anybody on tribal or religious basis” (Saturday SUN 03 July, 2004 page 5). It was a detailed, incisive, probing interview by one of our serious and best journalists, Eric Osagie.
“I am not a religious fanatic” – Buhari (Sunday PUNCH 26 October, 2014. Front page promotion and page 5).
APC Islam (Muslim) Party
Once again because of their laziness to do reasonable research, the anti-Buhari lied again. Some of them apparently believe that their social status, great learning and decorations for achievement are in themselves adequate to sanctify any lie they conveniently feed society. Wrong. Suicidal. Falsehood cannot reign for ever or even for long.
The facts: National Chairman of APC, Christian. Of the two national Deputy Chairmen, one is a Muslim, the other, Christian. APC has six National Vice-Chairmen representing the six geopolitical zones. Four are Christians. The one for the North East (Christian) was personally sponsored by Buhari himself.
For PDP, the National Chairman is Muslim. Its National Organising Secretary is Muslim, National Vice-Chairmen two Muslims, two Christians.
From the above facts, which party, APC or PDP is more Muslim in its organogram?
Section 10 of the Constitution
Prohibition of state religion clearly makes it difficult to Islamize or Christianize Nigeria. Any major change of the Constitution can only be possible if 24 states (2/3 of 36) Houses of Assembly approve. Now, of the 36 states we have 19 (North) and 17 (South).
Furthermore, since Independence we have had 14 Heads of State: 8 Muslim; 6 Christians. If we add Zik it will be 15: 8 Muslims, 7 Christians. Shonekan is also added without prejudice.
No Head of State/Government can Islamize Nigeria or Christianize Nigeria. Such speculations are necessarily empty or sterile. Convenient political red herring. Stupid. Our problem is neither from Mecca nor from Rome. Nigeria’s problems are Nigerians themselves. Simpliciter. When Babangida (not Buhari) surreptitiously wanted to smuggle Nigeria into OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) the heat of protest was so much he, the Army General Dictator, was forced to pipe down. His political father, Sultan Dasuki, the Supreme Head of Nigerian Muslims was unable to save him (Ref. Daily SUN editorial 21 June 2005 page 8).
Buhari: Liberal (open-minded) on religion (Personal Staff)
Confidential Secretary/Principal Private Secretary, Christian. 3 Cooks, Christians. No 2 Security, Christian. No. 2 Driver, Christian. They have been with him for years.
A passing word on General Tunde Idiagbon, Buhari’s No. 2. Idiagbon’s wife, a born-again Christian. Senator Isiak Ajimobi, Oyo State Governor’s wife, Florence is a Christian. Governor Fashola’s wife, Christian. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s wife, Christian.
The other day, one professional re-cycling sycophant. No abiding principle. Questioned integrity. No pedigree of democracy; stated that Buhari chose another Muslim, Idiagbon, as his No. 2. Stupid. Pathetic ignorance from a vaunted self-styled intellectual!
The fact is that both Buhari and Idiagbon were so selected (honoured) by The Supreme Military Council, on which we also had top Christian officers. These contemptible Buhari traducers or phobics are shamelessly glamourising falsehood. Freedom of speech. Yes. But not freedom to lie. No. No. No.
Buhari’s religious open-mindedness. My personal examples
In 1984, OPEC wanted to hold a session of its meeting on December 25, Christmas Day. I was a lone voice of protest. The other oil ministers were Muslims. I was necessarily overruled. But I was not cowed. I stood my ground. My final submission: “Your Excellencies you can continue. But without Nigeria. As a Christian and the leader of the Nigerian delegation, I am pulling out my delegation to celebrate Christmas at home. We will join you afterwards, if need be. We should respect each other’s religious faith. Let me assure you that though a Christian, I will also object to OPEC meeting being held on the day of Eid Maulud, Prophet Mohammed’s birthday celebration.”
The Nigerian delegation pulled out from Geneva on December 23. It made international news. The oil market was poised to react. On arrival to Lagos, I went to report to my Head of State, General Buhari. It was ironic that some Christian phobics of mine even urged the Head of State, General Buhari to sack me. Two of them are even Knights of the Roman Catholic Church. One of them was so shaken up when he came to know that I have been aware of his conspiracy; he went to my adored friends Dele Giwa (late) and Ray Ekpu to make peace between us. I forgave him.
He did not sack me. He even commended my courage and principle. To crown it all, both himself and Idiagbon later sent me Christmas gifts. The Saudi Oil Minister, Sheikh Zaman also sent me Christmas gift from Rhiyad. Thus, those parading that Buhari is anti-Christian are simply talking nonsense. Rubbish. Rubbish. Rubbish.
Buhari’s so-called u-turn on contesting again:
I will not comment on it. Buhari’s “Presidential race: Why I changed my mind-Buhari” (Daily SUN October 14, 2014 page 5) should be adequate to any serious-minded and open-minded responsible person. People who are not intellectually fraudulent in their claims to be acting in the bigger interest of society! The intellectual fraudulence of this anti-Buhari is made even more manifest when they shut their eyes to several serial u-turns of their master: President Jonathan. I refer to: “Jonathan’s Top 10 2011 broken promises” (The Nation On Sunday November 16, 2014 page 9).
I am constrained to add his mega u-turn that in 2011 he vowed that he will do only a single term if elected. His man, Tafida, confirmed.
He himself, Jonathan, publicly and unequivocally also asserted so in Addis Ababa while interacting with Nigerians in The Diaspora: “Nigerians in the Diaspora will not vote in 2011 it is going to be difficult now, but I will assure you that I will work towards it by 2015 even though I will not be running for election: (The Nation On Sunday ibid page 10).
What of the signed agreement with the North? Obasanjo was not lying. The Northern governors were not lying. Question: Have they now chickened out, lily livered to confront him? Mortal fear of EFCC and skeletons in cupboards? Instructive indeed.
Muslim-Muslim ticket disinformation and hypocrisy:
Disinformation, because the core issues are conveniently distorted to serve personal sinister causes. Hypocrisy, because most of the articulators are not even known to be faithful religious men. Some have many times even openly been anti-Christ.
Frank Talk by Steve Nwosu, a foremost columnist and scholarly analyst in the Daily SUN October 29, 2014 back page): “The Muslim-Muslim Ticket” is superb in depth, logic and construction. A must read for the open-minded.
Some particular excerpts:
“Politicians know there are only two goals: money and power.”
“So somebody should tell OBJ and his co-travelers that there is no big deal in this Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket.”
“Incompetence has no religion. Performance worships at the altar of commitment and public service, not mosque, not church. It needs no rosary or candle of whatever colour.”
Some other engaging write-ups:
“Buhari don’t fly the Muslim/Muslim Kite” (Daily SUN October 29, 2014 page 21) by Wale Sokunbi. It is intriguing to note that writers seem to have already concluded that Buhari is clearly the choice for APC.
Daniel Kanu’s: “APC and Muslim-Muslim ticket debate” (The Niche on Sunday November 02, 2014 page 16) is a must read. Superb.
The other rich article is “Religious Politics: Toying with Fire” by C. Don Adinuba (Daily SUN November 12, 2014 page 20).
Obasanjo may be right somewhat that it may be “insensitive” especially in contemporary times when President Jonathan, has elevated divisive religious and ethnic politics to the level of religions. But I disagree with Obasanjo that a Muslim-Muslim ticket is necessarily absurd. No. Never.
I also argue that even the “insensitivity” part should be seen in context and not out of context in order to fully place everything in better perspective and circumspection. Politics is said to be an art of the possible.
Furthermore, “Idealism is important in politics. But in the final analysis, it is Realism that dictates how fast we run.” (Kinnok)
In other words, pragmatism is central to the dynamics of politics, which is to win in elections. However, pragmatism should not be disconnected from moral or ethical imperatives. This is where politics and religion meet. Religion should sanitize politics. (Ghandi). “We cannot overlook religion in politics” (The Nation On Sunday November 16, 2014 page 69) by Evangelist Dr. Uma Ukpai, one of the few non-politicised pastors I respect. I will specifically address this later.
Obasanjo versus Pastor/CAN Chairman
There were sectarian killings in Jos in 2005. President Obasanjo was late to visit. And when he finally visited the local pastor, who was also the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Plateau State, humbly expressed they had been expecting the president sooner. What was Obasanjo, now the great defender of Christianity’s reaction? He called the pastor an “IDIOT.” He further went on to bellow: “CAN my foot.” All these in public! I recounted this in my Bishop Mike Okonkwo’s Sixth Annual Lecture, Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Lagos September 01 2005; serialized by The Guardian September 06/08 2005.
Obasanjo and the form of Government versus Good Governance
Obasanjo’s new thesis on the importance of the form or structure of government is patently different from his earlier “thesis” published in his book, “Africa Embattled” 1988 page 59. Hear him: “At this crucial juncture of our development I believe that ordinary Nigerians are more concerned with the substance of government than its form (emphasis, mine). This is redolent of a similar position by Alexander Pope, hundreds of years earlier: “For forms of government let fools contest, whatever is best administered is best.”
Governor Samuel Ogbemudia, at the peak of his good governance in Bendel State in one of his famous public lectures also stressed: “the delivery of good governance, and downgraded its form of origin.”
Lastly, Steve Nwosu, in his “The Muslim-Muslim ticket (Daily SUN October 29, 2014 back page): “Incompetence has no religion. Performance worships at the altar of commitment and public service, not mosque, not church.”
Perhaps I should respectfully also remind Obasanjo that he was once emphatic and unequivocal that “Nigeria is not a secular state, OBJ declares (The Monitor On Saturday March 22, 2003. Front page splash). So, why the now all the said “insensitivity” or “absurdity” of a hypothetical “Muslim-Muslim Ticket”
The anti-Muslim-Muslim ticket advocates greatly ruined their case by failing to focus on the felt core or fundamental issues at stake. Instead of this their advocacy clearly gives the impression that it is part, or a variant of the tagging Buhari anti-Christian campaign of calumny. Thus, they sometimes sink to ad hominem attacks on his person rather than focusing on the issues.
It is most refreshing that because of the antics or ploy of the anti-Muslim-Muslim ticket, Buhari has once again come out to present and strongly and convincingly make the case of his open-mindedness, liberal on religious issues.
For instance, in 2003 his running mate was Chuba Okadigbo, Roman Catholic, Ibo. In 2007 it was Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, Roman Catholic, Ibo. In 2011 it was even a popular renowned Christian pastor, Tunde Bakare. It is therefore most unacceptable and factually fraudulent for any South-East to print Buhari anti-Ibo. Nonsense. One of his chosen Ibo running mate even later betrayed him for personal gains with Jonathan. Buhari has emphasized Ibo in governance more than any other leader.
I was drawn to tears when Buhari lamented: “Honestly, what do Nigerians want me to do? If they don’t believe I’m not a fundamentalist. What else can I do?” (The Niche On Sunday November 02, 2014 page 16 column 2). These bunch of Buhari phobics are being intellectually fraudulent if they fail to commend him for always going to the open public space to make his case – all cards on the table face up. No other leader in our history has even come near this.
It must be stressed that Buhari is not subjecting himself to these unwarranted indignities because he wants to serve and loot like most, if not all the other leaders.
Why should he be so humiliated and harassed simply because he wants to serve Nigeria for the sake of service simpliciter – to give greater happiness for the greater number. He is not corrupt. He is incorruptible. He is disciplined. He is honest and reliable. A man of impeccable integrity. A very rare gem in Nigeria’s headship history. Buhari has no estates. No oil blocks. No jets. No personal private university. No business concerns. Challenges detractors to a moral contest. They all chickened out.
Buhari “a man of principle and moral absolutes who has made a name for probity and integrity.” (General Abdulsalami Abubakar)
All the above by our great former Head of State, General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar, GCFR, CSG. Forward to the book: “Who Really Is General Muhammadu Buhari? By Professor Tam David-West 2009.
Finally, at this juncture, I wish to say that I will not waste any precious time on Femi Fani-Kayode only to say that I am proud – very proud dyed-in-the wool “Buharite.” And I have been consistent over time. No regrets. No apologies.
This brings me to a beautiful rebuttal to one of Femi Fani-Kayode’s usual hasty and breezy outings by the priest (now Bishop) scholar, polished intellectual. A great messenger of The Almighty, Matthew Hassan Kukah. I refer to his demolition of Femi Fani-Kayode in his “Priest, Politician and More” (The Guardian On Sunday March 17, 1996 page A11).
“We see Fani-Kayode as being merely a Pentecostal Christian and Yoruba man” (Kukah).
“I dare Fani-Kayode to take up the challenge of improving the polity and see if you will hear from me again.” (Kukah).
Bishop Kukah is a seasoned priest, intellectual giant; never known to be frivolous or partial, a great objective commentator, analyst of issues of public interest. He went through very rigorous training as priest; indeed like all his colleagues. He is not a crash-programme priest. He never flirts with power elites. Bold. Courageous.
Running Mates in History; The National Beauty Jonathan’s Nigeria has soiled
Abiola v. Kingibe (Muslims) won decisively in the most transparent and free election. Voted for across the country no ethnicity. No religious divisiveness.
Lateef Jakande (Muslim) the wonder-governor of Lagos State, had Alhaji Rafiu Jafojo (Muslim) as running mate. Landslide victory with Muslim and Christian votes.
Chief Bola Ige, Christian, had Chief Sunday Afolabi (Christian) as running mate. They won, landslide with both Christian and Muslim votes.
Professor Jerry Gana, Christian resoundingly won election to the Senate in a constituency in Niger State with over 90% Muslim.
For more I refer to Don Adinuba’s “Religious Politics….” (Daily SUN November 12, 2014 page 20).
The case of the Mayor of Enugu in the 1950’s is a shining example of Nigeria’s former religious accommodation. Alhaji Umam Altine, a Muslim, Fulani was Mayor of Enugu, the capital of the Eastern Region. He was so sponsored by the great Zik (Christian) himself.
I paid regular visits to Mayor Altine in 1956 when I was living temporally with an uncle in Enugu after the University College Ibadan (UCI) was closed down for student unrest, and we were rusticated. It was my first year undergraduate.
He, Mayor Altine encouraged me to be writing for the Zik’s paper “Sentinel” to occupy me. My first article: “Day Dreams In Exile” was personally received by him. Yes indeed “Once There was a Country” (Achebe). We also regularly discussed Nigeria.
The point I am making is that the current embers of conflictual religious faiths, Christianity and Islam are convenient ploys to answer to personal prejudices or obsessions by persons who are neither practicing Christians nor politicians with integrity.
Christianity and Islam
These great faiths should be complementary to each other and not conflictual. However, politicians of either faith, serious or unserious exploit religious sentiments to answer to personal goals. I have over time interested myself with interplay of Religion and Politics. “Religion and Politics (Sunday Tribune 15 July, 1990 page 8)
“Politics and Religion: A Synthesis” or “Between Politics and Religion” (The Guardian On Sunday 31 March, 1996 Page A11).
The word “Religion” is derived from Latin meaning “Bind Together,” “Tie up.” No fighting. “Islam” and “Christianity” are not, should not, be in collision course. They should complement each other being “children” or “offshoots” of same ‘parent,’ Judaism”
Let me refer to two relevant books of interest: “The Bible The Qur’an and Science” by Maurice Bucaille, “Comparing the Qur’an and the Bible” by Rich Richter.
I must also mention that in addition to my Bibles I also have a copy of “The Holy Qur’an Text, Translation and Commentary” by A. Yusuf Ali, a gift by The Aare Muslumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Arisekola Alao, date 21 September, 1985.
Religionisation of politics
I have always held that we should bring religion into politics. But take out politics from religion. “For a lasting and stable polity we should take politics out of religion, but bring in religion (Codes of Conduct) into politics” (The Guardian On Sunday March 31, 1990 page A11 last paragraph).
If the codes (Dos and Don’ts) of religion are injected into politics, politics will be necessarily sanitized of all filth. No election rigging, No cheating. No corruption. Love will take over from hate. Real democracy will be realized. There will be justice, peace and progress.
My religious pedigree
I have a Christian (Anglican) pedigree of over 100 (106) years at least. I am in fact, a Fundamentalist Anglican. Both my paternal and maternal grandfathers, High Chief David-West (Fubara) and High Chief Kio Dick Harry (Tiriah) were pioneer Christians in the Kalabari Kingdom, sometimes at great personal risk. The early Christian missionaries were, as expected, not welcome. They left to avoid trouble.
High Chief (Opu-alabo) David-West personally went to plead with Bishop Dandeson Samuel Ajayi Crowther to return to Kalabari. The Bishop was reluctant. It was my paternal grandfather who eventually convinced the Bishop to change his mind. It took David-West four such visits. Compromise solution. The Bishop will be his personal guest, friend and will stay with him in his house. All security guaranteed. Bishop Dandeson agreed to the terms. He started the church (now St Michael’s Anglican Church) at the ground floor of David-West’s two-storey building.
David-West later complained to the Bishop that he was not comfortable having God downstairs and he upstairs. The Bishop failed to convince him that God is everywhere. Omnipresent. Compromise: David-West had to put up a bungalow at the entrance to the David-West’s compound for the church. This is where the present elegant Cathedral of St. Michael’s Church stands. He also ordered for the church bell from London and also built the first belfry. All these were in 1908.
I continue to thank Chief (Dr.) Lulu-Barango for showing me written church records of 1925 to authenticate these. There many more about David-West and the Church. He passed on January 17, 1925.
My maternal grandfather, Opu-alabo Tiriah, along with few other chiefs founded the Our Saviour’s African Church. This was in 1913. He was also a leading member of the famous Bishop Garrick Braide’s Pentecostal Church. The torch of Christianity has been passed on from generation to generation in the family. It will so continue by His Special Divine Grace.
Why the above religious pedigree? Simple. If I ever suspect, even with the slightest evidence that Buhari is anti-Christian, I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER have anything to do with him. Metaphorically, I will borrow winged legs from the Greek, Fidipedis, and run away from him very fast.
Things about religion go deep into one’s bone marrows, those of politics only end on the epidemis.
Buhari, is never anti-Christians as addressed in this discourse.
I was on the choir of St. Michaels Church, Buguma.
I have been invited to lead religious fellowships in Nigeria and abroad.
I have preached the sermon on Sunday at the Vom (Plateau State) Church (1962). I have also preached at a Methodist Church in the United States; I was also guest speaker at Oregon, also in U.S. Along with the famous Reverend Martin Luther King, I was also Guest Speaker at the 18th Christian Ecumenical World Congress at Athens, Ohio, United States. All these were during my student days in the US. 1958-1962.
King was assassinated before I could honour his invitation to visit his church. May his soul rest in perfect peace with the Almighty. Amen.
Finally, none of the vociferous loud-mouthed, dark hearted anti Buhari can boast of religious pedigree as rich as mine. They cannot, as the saying goes , be more Roman Catholic than the Pope, Buhari is not, never , anti –Christian.
Let me conclude by appealing to all that in 2015 our different religious ethics should be paramount in our mind in voting for the President (and also other officers).
Aspirants throwing money around are public thieves, looters. The bribe money they offer is public money (our money) recycled to corrupt us for their selfish ends. Why should one take all the trouble to buy votes to enable them serve the public? Hidden Agenda to mega loot if elected. Let’s say NO NO NO.
“The universe would not be rich enough to buy the vote of an honest man” (St.Gregory).
And , “ An honest man is the noblest work of God” (Alexander Pope).
Professor Tam David-West
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