By BASHIR ADEFAKA
“The Nigerian Muslim Community want to see you in their midst. After all, you are a major contribution that this community has made to the Nigeria Project, considering the many years of blames that had been hurled by people saying “Muslim leaders ruling Nigeria are the problems of Nigeria.” Your coming has changed the tide and today, although they would not acknowledge it publicly, everybody in the world knows that while neither Muslims nor Christians are problems of Nigeria, CORRUPTION and BAD CITIZENSHIP ATTITUDE are!”
On Friday, the President of the united peoples of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the country’s Armed Forces, General Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, explained to Nigerians why he chooses to observe his Jumat Service in the State House Mosque as against doing so in the National Mosque Abuja.
The excuse Mr. President gave is a genuine one being that it is about the convenience of humanity against the hardship in traffic people are more likely to be subjected to by the VIP Movement his coming to the nation’s number one mosque for such all-important worship will cause.
However, I want to tell Mr. President that the Prof. Galadanci-led delegation of Imams of Nigeria calling his attention to his not coming to pray in the National Mosque should be seen beyond the excuse he has given turning down their request to have him amidst during Jumat Service. This President is too distant from his Muslim Ummah and it is undesirable as, this may have adverse effect, no matter what.
Yes, we all believe that President Buhari is a normal Muslim that does not go into extreme. His non-extreme kind of Muslimness is in line with the teaching of Islam. However, to many non-Muslim watching particularly those elements within the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Christian Elders’ Forum (NCEF) and the so called Retired Christian Generals, they love to see that you don’t connect physically with your religious community although they do not hate the close connection of your Vice, Yemi Osinbajo GCON, SAN, to the extent of him even going to play piano with other clerics in any church anywhere in the country; just like they do not find it out of place for your immediate processor, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan visiting any church service at sight and issuing government policies therefrom, sometimes to the disgust and chagrin of many.
I have facts that Jonathan not only chose church going as hobby (which is desirable to me and many who believe in my way because being President must not deprive one of his right of association with his faith side) but also he chose a particular church in Ogun State, Winners’ Chapel as conduit pipe through which he channeled national wealth owned by Nigerians of various religious backgrounds: Islam, Christianity and idolatry to church’s pockets.
This for the purpose of using the funds to do good to people so in election time, direction of voting to be decided by Oyedepo would be where benefitted communities and church goers would face. Little wonder therefore that Oyedepo has remained hell-bent damning any consequences in his war against General Muhammadu Buhari as 2015 seeker of office as President and, till recently during the 2019 presidential election period, he pulled strings across Buhari’s path as sitting President seeking re-election in office.
It does not matter to Oyedepo whether Buhari is far better than his political party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and whoever it pushes forward for the contest, anybody who could stop him from living a fake life, using Nigerians’ collectively owned wealth to appear to people as if it is his church that is doing the wonder must be crushed. That has been what Oyedepo has done against Buhari since 2015 even till now that 2019 election is over.
What did that mean? Pastor Oyedepo then became a nice man as many neighbouring communities of his Ota, Ogun State 15,000-seat capacity church practically applied to him for electricity transformers to power their energy supplies. Many of those communities up to the Toll-Gate, Sango, Oju Oore portion of Idiroko Road areas believed that the road Federal or Ogun State government could not afford to do, only Winners’ Church could do it. This, in a way along with concentrated campaign of Islamisation against Buhari, played a big role in the dangerous religious division that Nigeria suffered during the 2015 election.
Not only that, fuel was sold inside Winners’ Chapel as low as N44 per litre as at the time general pump price was N87 for the time Jonathan was in power. Although I do recognize the right of Oyedepo, whose direction is claimed be determined on daily basis by God, has a right to do business. He must however be having unhindered access to free supply or prioritized order from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to be able to sell fuel at that incredibly lower price. I don’t need to remind anybody that Diezani Allison-Madueke, now being exposed on daily basis as spearhead of many electoral misbehavour that happened then under Jonathan, was Minister of Petroleum and Chairman of the Board of NNPC during the time. Oyedepo, according to many of the beneficiaries, gave empowerment loans to people who came to his church as worshippers in need of support and, even independent commuter transporters who ferried the church goers to the church, gave accounts of their benefits from Winners’ Chapels, which unknown to them was their own government indirectly helping them but in most unconstitutional manner of hiding behind religion to cheat others to appear as good church. Just for votes!
Although I personally told one of the CDAs in Iju, near Atan area, that “I do not say you should not apply for this transformer you want to apply for, but you should have it in mind that it is your government that in actual fact gives you the transformer because, it is Federal Government money that Oyedepo is using to give those transformers he gives”, not many believed me. I challenge any Nigerian who is committed to Nigerianism and truth to come out and tell me that since Buhari came to power, Oyedepo has given transformer to anybody or any community or that he has sold fuel at N44 per litre even at N80 while the actual pump price is now between N0.00 and N145.00 per litre at pump price.
While I would not like to sound immodest, what Oyedepo was doing giving out transformers for communities’ electrification projects was a good thing. But the unfortunate thing about that Jonathan’s attitude, and which nobody is talking about (including those that are praising Buhari today for not associating with his Muslim Community in time of worship but rather choosing to pray in government premises) is that the former President used Nigerians’ collective wealth to advance his own Christian faith making it look to many Nigerians that it was the church (Winners) that was so kind to distribute electricity transformers to those communities and even build their roads. This is one of the areas hypocrisy of many Nigerians may not help them until they repent.
So grateful I am that President Buhari’s Change mantra has hymned this out of our public life in Nigeria; to the extent that all sponsorship to Holy Pilgrimages during Hajj has stopped, although CAN would want that policy to restrict only to the Muslim Ummah and it is not affected by it. If not, how come Buhari approved exchange rate for Christian pilgrims during his early days in office after his 2015 inauguration only for the same Christian using all the powers at their disposal including their “almighty media” to cry woes against the President when he did same for Muslim pilgrims same year?
However, this attitude of unbiased leadership on the part of Nigeria’s President, a Muslim/Fulani of Northern Nigeria, must not disconnect him from the fact that the Nigerian Muslim Community needs him in their midst at their all-important occasion of Jumu’at Service except when he is out of Abuja. Being too righteous in everything can be extreme sometimes if not tactically handled.
There is no better statement to explain why it is necessary. It does not stop people who will call you religious bigot from so calling. Are we not now having situation where the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) even goes to the extent of trying to make us realize that some elements tried not to make it congratulate the President on his re-election victory? It might not be well pronounced but many of us can testify to the fact that CAN did a great underground work asking people in Yoruba Land (I don’t know of the North or Igbo Land) not to vote for President Buhari but Atiku. We however wondered whether Atiku Abubakar was actually a Christian and even a non-Fulani. I however got to know that while Atiku is a Muslim, he is surely not a Fulani man. How has that interested CAN? So, for such religious organization, it should not matter to President Buhari its attacks on him for being Muslim at all times.
Just before I stop, let me come clearer to President Muhammadu Buhari. When you came, you met a Nigeria profoundly polarized and heavily divided along religion line. But you said, “I want to lead a Nigeria where Muslims and Christians will practice their religions without fear.” Much as you ensure that, CAN has never rated you positively on religion. It continued, till election time, to present you to Nigerians as a religious bigot who is out to Islamise Nigeria. CAN’s allies that Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo and, above all, the TY Danjuma-led Retired Christian Generals of Nigeria are, have never stopped to mischievously tell themselves – and other vulnerable citizens who blindly follow them – how ethnically jingoistic and religiously bigot you are.
But how would you continue to mind such people who appear to be men and women of God but, in actual sense, are not? How would you continue to throw yourself in the hands of people to whom you send a rat all times but in return send you serpent (snakes)?
The Igbo people of Nigeria did not vote for you in 2015 but you have been so kind towards them in terms of appointments and regional infrastructure development. Yet, how do they pay you back, though you are using the money of Nigeria, a country many of them do not believe exist except as a Zoo? For 16 years before your coming, their own sons had access to such Nigeria’s money, what did they do to their region? For such people, Your Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, there is little you should do in disconnecting yourself from your own religious community and ethnic group in the name of pleasing a people who do not for once appreciate any good about you. When the ships are down, they would not accept you, it is your own people within the Nigerian marriage that will accept you.
I overheard a Northern person saying that, “President Buhari has developed the South more than he does in the North here. How come therefore those over there keep blackmailing us as cheating Nigeria?”
This explains how mischievous many Nigerians you try to favour with good character will never see you in good light except that you just continue to do the good things you are doing while we help in praying to Allah to continue to give you the patience and resilience to withstand their ungratefulness and, within our own limited media opportunity, we evangelize to the rest of the country the good news about your government and your personality which they have been deprived from knowing. That’s all!
But it should not stop you from coming around to intermingle with your Muslim Community, during Jumat Service, and that is best done – not in the Presidential Villa but – in National Mosque Abuja. Don’t forget that during Olusegun Obasanjo, there was no State House Mosque, although he knew about large number of Muslims working in the Villa. Even after office, the same Obasanjo got some Northern governors who gave him donation in N40 million each on claim that he was launching a Muslim Mosque inside his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Abeokuta, Ogun State. After a long time, the mosque for which about five Northern governors contributed N40 million to build was eventually completed. Now, okay, I have been told by a very influential Nigerian in Abeokuta not to open it until I confirm that no serious Islamic activity is going on in that mosque. I will leave that aspect until I have my fact that the hundreds of millions naira by those Muslim governors to the Obasanjo Library mosque is a waste.
Rather, while in office, he (Obasanjo) built an Aso Rock Chapel where the President worshipped. When Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua came, he, rather than build a mosque like Obasanjo built a church, would go to National Mosque Abuja to pray while his Vice, Jonathan, occasionally went to National Church Abuja but often made use of the Aso Rock Chapel which was overblown to the point that Aso Rock was like headed by a Christian President. Ditto the time Jonathan assumed office as substantive and later elected President.
Don’t also forget that what you call State House Mosque is just a makeshift that can easily be converted to office under any Christian President. Whoever thinks I am fanatical for saying this obvious can only be on his or her own. So, what is the impression you are creating by telling us why you don’t pray in National Mosque, Your Excellency? If the logjam or restricted access that VIP Movement for Jumat Service period once in seven days (and you are not even in Abuja all the times) would cause is the reason people will take you to be unconcerned leader, LET THEM SAY like King Sunny Ade would sing. How has that concerned the spirit of togetherness that the Nigerian Muslim Community needs to feel from you?
To this end, Mr. President, mosque influential Black President and Africa’s number corruption fighter, Alhaji General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, you can still attend Jumu’at Service at the National Mosque and nothing will happen, Insha Allah. It is enough the distancing. The Nigerian Muslim Community wants to see you in their midst. After all, you are a major contribution that this community has made to the Nigeria Project, considering the many years of blames that had been hurled by people saying “Muslim leaders ruling Nigeria are the problems of Nigeria.” Your coming has changed the tide and today, although they would not acknowledge it publicly, everybody in the world knows that while neither Muslims nor Christians are problems of Nigeria, CORRUPTION and BAD CITIZENSHIP ATTITUDE are!