This is indeed the time for us to answer some hard questions and speak some home truths. It is a season that shall separate the men from the boys. It is a time that the holy and wholesome light of truth shall overwhelm and expose the evil darkness of doublespeak and deceit. It is a season that the enunciation and exposure of the ugly realities of the day must not be sacrificed or compromised on the alter of political expediency or on the table of fear. Thankfully there are a few courageous and discerning voices that have risen to the occasion, made the relevant observations and asked the right questions. Amongst them are Mr. Bayo Oladeji and Mr. Opeyemi Agbaje. Permit me to begin with the former.
Oladeji, a seasoned and experienced journalist who writes for the Leadership Newspaper, wrote the following on his Facebook page on 31st October 2014.
”When Chief Femi Fani-Kayode came out to expose the plan of the APC chieftains to impose a Muslim/Muslim ticket on the party, their attack dogs were ordered to abuse him using words picked from the gutter. They even told us he was never part of them! Chief Tom Ikimi came out and corroborated him and they said he was telling a moon tale. They then recalled his participation in the Abacha evil rule which murdered Ken Saro Wiwa as if their hero, Muhammadu Buhari did not play same role in the same government. When I raised the issue here after confirming from those who were involved in the plan some who can never talk to their hero rose up ignorantly to fault me. But since President Olusegun Obasanjo did the same, their response remains a deafening silence! When I was growing up I was told that SILENCE MEANS CONSENT. Meaning those who have been saying it are not wrong after all. The Church has kept mum for so long and these people in the opposition are cornering all for themselves. For example, I have challenged the apologists of APC to publish the list of names and the religions of all their political appointees in the Southwest especially the following- the governors, SSGs, Speakers, Finance Commissioners in all the APC controlled states in the southwest. Let us see how fair they are to the two religions in the country. If they could do this at the state level where they have someone who claims to be a Christian as deputy governor, we wonder what they would do when they have the President and the Vice President from them. In the whole of the North, there is only one Christian in the National Executive Commitee and the National Working Commitee of the APC. His name Engineer Babachir David Lawal from Adamawa State! And if you know the extent he went to get that seat, you would know what that party is up to. These are the issues. It goes beyond President Jonathan. If the party does not change, God spares our lives, come 2019, you will still find me doing the same. Until the rotten tooth is pulled out of the mouth, the mouth will continue eating with caution. It is a tragic irony that those who have come out to defend them are those who claim to be Christians”.
Oladeji’s observations are indeed food for thought even though in fairness to the APC their party Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, did come out and respond to Obasanjo by saying that his party had no intention of fielding a Muslim/Muslim ticket. Few believe him. The question is this: in the light of General Mohammadu Buhari’s latest assertion that he cannot rule out the possibility of the selection of a muslim running mate if he manages to win the nomination as the presidential flagbearer of his party, can the belated assurances of the National Chairman be taken seriously? I doubt it very much but even if I do take John Odigie-Oyegun seriously and even if he has the best of intentions, the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day it is the Presidential candidate of the party alone that will make the choice as to who his running mate will be and what religious faith that running mate espouses and not the party’s National Chairman.
To that extent Buhari’s celebrated and widely reported comments about not seeing anything wrong with a Muslim/Muslim ticket, in my view, speaks volumes and outweighs Odigie-Oyegun’s denials and desperate attempts to calm the waters. To make matters worse it is quite possible that John Odigie-Oyegun may end up not being National Chairman for much longer simply because he has dared to challenge the status quo and say what no-one else in his party has dared to say.
To add to Oladeji’s concerns permit me to point out the fact that in the APC-controlled Lagos State today 80 per cent of State House of Assembly members are muslim, 80 per cent of Local Government Area Chairmen are muslim, 80 per cent of National Assembly members are muslim and 80 per cent of Commissioners and key government functionaries are muslim.
All this in a state that has an overwhelming christian majority and that has been governed by a muslim governor for the last 15 years. I will not even go into the affairs of the APC-controlled Osun state which is slowly being turned into a Taliban enclave and which is a place in which Christians are fast becoming second class citizens. Should anyone be surprised or alarmed by all this? I don’t think so. It is a well-orchestrated, well-thought out, well-designed and well-implemented agenda.
That is the APC for you. With them you will never see what you will get until it is too late. They are very good at using religion to achieve their objectives and at playing double games. And of course propaganda and the manipulation of the mass media is their forte. They implement their hidden agenda by guile, stealth, deceit and subtefuge and they prey on our sense of fair play, generosity and magnaminity. In short they have taken us all for granted and they have mistaken our genuine sense of liberalism and the desire to accomodate other schools of thought and perspectives as weakness and stupidity.
Yet it gets worse and it doesn’t stop there. It is also a fact that every single state that is under the control of the APC in the south west today is governed by a muslim whilst 90 per cent of APC governors throughout the Federation are muslims. If this does not paint a clear picture about what the overall agenda of the APC really is and if it does not give a clear indication about what their intentions for our country really are then nothing ever will.
Let us come to Mr. Opeyemi Agbaje who is a banker, an economist and a lecturer at the Lagos Business School. He made his own contribution to the debate by asking the following insightful questions on his Facebook page on 31st October, 2014 . He asked:
”How come the only debates we have in Nigeria are over a “Muslim-Muslim” ticket? How come the opposition partys instincts are always in that direction-Nuhu Ribadu/Fola Adeola in 2011 and now all sorts of Muslim-Muslim permutations and possibilities? How come a discussion of a Christian-Christian presidential ticket is completely inconceivable and has not been countenanced by anyone? How come Buhari, who even in a military regime instituted a Muslim-Muslim/North-North ruling clique along with Idiagbon and 8 or 9 out of 11 Supreme Military Council members, is now testing the ground again with another possible Muslim-Muslim pairing? Is it that we have a shortage of capable Christians in NIgeria?”
I wonder if anyone can answer these questions. I believe that the Nigerian people deserve to hear the answers. The fact of the matter is that even though many in our country are in deep denial and have buried their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, religion has not only become a factor in our politics today but it has actually become THE factor.
This was never meant to be the case and it is a sad and unwelcome development but, sadly, that is the reality and we have no choice but to live with it. Those that dispute it ought to be reminded of the fact that these are the days of Abubakar Shekau and Boko Haram. They ought to be reminded of the fact that this is an age that has witnessed the unprecedented and meteoric rise of Islamic fundamentalism, religious intolerance and ISIL-like barbarity in the affairs of our nation.
They ought to be reminded of the fact that these are the days that have witnessed the advent of an opposition party that is hell bent on using religion as a major political weapon in an attempt to grab power at the center regardless of the dangers of undertaking such a dangerous and unpredictable course of action. They ought to be reminded of the fact that this is a time in which the leading Presidential candidate of the opposition party is on record as saying that an attack on Boko Haram ”is an attack on the north”. They ought to be reminded of the fact that the same man told the Nigerian people in 2002 that he wishes to spread sharia law ”all over the Federation”. They ought to be reminded of the fact that the official spokesman of the opposition party only last year said that the proscription of Boko Haram by the Federal Government was ”unconstitutional and unjust”. Given all this only a fool would suggest that religion is not a major factor in the unfolding events in Nigeria’s political arena today.
Yet I am not surprised and neither should anyone else be. That is style and manner of Nigeria’s opposition party. That is the APC way: lies, deceit, doublespeak, Byzantian manouverings, subterranean plots and hidden agendas are their stock in trade. They are nothing but darkness and only the light of God and the power of truth will expose them. May God deliver our nation from their ilk.
There is no gainsaying that both Oladeji and Agbaje have raised some very pertinent issues and their deep concerns reflect the thinking of millions of Nigerian who are very worried about the unfolding agenda.
We await the response of anyone within the ranks of the Buharists and the Haramite hordes for an answer to these pertinent questions and observations that these two courageous and deeply patriotic Nigerians have raised. Whichever way we choose to look at it one thing remains clear: the reaction of the Nigerian people will be decisive and swift if those that wish to turn our nation into an ISIL-style state push their luck too far.