“Nor should we listen to those who say ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God’, for the turbulence of the mob is always close to insanity.” Alcuin, 735-804.
It was bound to happen, sooner or later. The unholy alliance between Lagos State and two religions – Christianity and Islam – was going to blow up in somebody’s face. That unconstitutional support for the two religions, to the exclusion of other indigenous religions, had been maintained for political reasons since 1960. The British never funded anybody’s trip to Mecca. Certainly, the Governor General at any time, though Christian, would have considered the person fit for admission to a mental hospital who suggested funding Christian’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem. All the Nigerian constitutions ever foisted on the people have proclaimed that the government should support no religion.
But, unpatriotic Heads of State, Presidents, Governors and Local Government Chairpersons have repeatedly and happily dipped their hands into the public purse to fund the two religions. That is endemic corruption; or more appropriately, stealing (credit for that goes to former President Jonathan). Nigerian governments at all levels have been stealing public funds and they have handed the loot to “Men of God” leading the two religions – who, despite preaching against it had gladly received stolen money. And like the bunch of corrupt “David Copperfields” that they are, they never failed to ask for more.
Nigerians would recollect the picture of a “Man of God” standing shoulder to shoulder with Jonathan in Jerusalem with a 24-carat gold chain stretching to his ankles during GEJ’s last year in office. Naturally, only “Men of God” can be so brazen when indulging in corrupt acts. Nobody claims to be Man of Satan even when they do devilish things like fornication, receiving stolen money to buy jets etc. They get away with it because most of us Muslims and Christians are complaisant. We turn our gaze from the evil deeds until one incident gives us a dirty slap to make us face reality.
When the PUNCH and some other papers carried the news that Mrs Ambode got the Chaplain of the Chapel of Christ the Light at Alausa, Ikeja, fired for whatever reason, it was predictable what would follow. Christian faithful will condemn the termination of appointment and Mrs Ambode. Pressure will be brought to bear on the Governor to reinstate the Chaplain; some will ask Pastor Taiwo to apologise to the Governor’s wife and all will be forgiven and forgotten. That is mob thinking – very close to insanity.
For those who might not have the patience to finish this article, permit me to deliver my verdict on the matter now. The explanation will follow.
First, Ambode should not reinstate Pastor Idowu now or ever again. Second, he should not appoint a new Chaplain to the chapel. Third, he should close down the chapel or hand it over to Lagos Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, to run as an ecumenical centre. Forth, he should use this unnecessary controversy to get Lagos State of out of religious matters for good. Now, the explanations follow.
From available information, the chapel is under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, but, it is supervised by the Office of the First Lady. The first observation here should be clear to anybody with minimum intelligence. Lagos State owns a chapel – when the law forbids it to do so. Ambode did not start the chapel; he inherited from the Governor who should have done the honourable thing by closing the chapel and the mosques established by the state. The guilty party was Babatunde Fashola, SAN, who knew and failed to do the right thing – for political reasons. Pastor Taiwo went to work for an illegal unit whose supervision had long been delegated to the office of the “First Lady”. (Is she also the Supervisor of the Mosques?). She was Taiwo’s boss; and a boss can recommend that any subordinate be fired without putting the matter to public debate. So, most of those carpeting Mrs Ambode are ignorant about the principles of management. Decisions about who to appoint and fire are not subject to popular vote. In fact, Ambode will be sending a bad signal if he caves in to pressure on this.
He should also not appoint a new Chaplain because, henceforth, there is “no vacancy” for Chaplain at the Chapel of Christ the Light. The illegality it represents should stop now. But, he should also stop funding the Mosques in Alausa. Lagos State should now exit religion. Otherwise, I will lead delegations of other religions to demand for the establishment of their shrines in Alausa and funding by government. Fair is fair. If government has so much excess cash to spend on religion, then it should be ready to spend on all of them – including Sango worshippers.
Finally, there is something inherently absurd about the Commissioner for Home Affairs “supervising” the wife of the State Governor. The poor Commissioner has an untouchable “subordinate”. Nothing Mrs Ambode does can be queried by the Commissioner or anybody else. She can spend public funds at will and the accounts will not be audited. Again, Ambode did not create this administrative monstrosity and corruption-prone system, but he has inherited it. In the spirit of the change mantra of the All Progressive Congress, APC, he should not shy away from addressing it. Courage is required, especially when the leaders of CAN and Islamic movements who have benefited from this illegality are not ready to relinquish their hold on the public purse. Nobody willingly walks away for free money – even if illegally acquired.
But, courage is still the greatest of all human attributes when allied with justice. Justice demands that discrimination against non-Muslims and non-Christians should stop. Courage demands that the governor should not allow second term to prevent him from stopping this nonsense.
LAST LINE. For what ever it is worth, I am a Christian and I even fund my own prayer house in Lagos Island. I have never asked for donation from anyone. The only donations we have received have come from those who receive our calendar each year and contribute to the next year’s edition. A friend came to me a few years ago proposing to get me listed for Jerusalem Pilgrimage. My answer to him was: “You must be out of your mind. Show me a line in the Bible which makes such pilgrimage compulsory. We can’t imitate Muslims whose religion encourages it – for those who can afford it.” The friendship stopped that day. People must stand for something or fall for anything. This nonsense must stop.
P.S. This column was written but was not sent to the Editor before the squabble between Lagos CAN, Pastor Taiwo and his supporters broke out. I expected it. “If you work with glue, sooner or later you’re bound to get stuck”, wrote Leo Tolstoy in WAR AND PEACE.(VBQ p 76). CAN, which should never have accepted help from government to build a church and maintain it, will now be at war over the termination of appointment and the property and be enslaved to government. Pity.
ARMED THUGS IN POLICE UNIFORM RAID EKWEREMADU’S HOUSE.
“Power is the chief weapon of the ignorant.”
Ambassador Cabot Lodge, 1972, (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTES).
On May 26, 2017, people dressed in police uniforms, which are readily available to thugs and armed robbers, invaded the house of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, PDP, whose only sin was to exercise his constitutional right to vie for the office of the Deputy Senate President. The majority of his elected colleagues must have great respect for him to have crossed party lines to elect him. But, the enemies of democracy masquerading as “change agents” would have none of it. Without consultations with the Senators, a few power-hungry individuals had decided who would be Senate President.
Everything has been done since his emergence as Dep. President to force him to step aside for the anointed candidate of the leaders. The latest was the raid which failed to achieve its intended purpose.
Two years with little to show other than release of Chibok girls and containment of Boko Haram, the All Promises Comedians (that is what a disillusioned friend calls them), APC, needed a major front page scandal to divert the minds of Nigerians on May 29, 2017, from the trope of empty words that would be delivered.
The police have disclaimed the raid as their own. No other security agency had stepped forward to claim responsibility. That is the nature of failure. Failure is always an orphan; nobody claims it. Had it been a success, Police, EFCC and DSS would have argued about which branch was responsible. So, now we have thugs in police uniform invading the house of Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, three days before “Democracy Day” – marking two largely wasted years.