IN DEFFENCE OF OYEDEPO, OBAZEE & RELIGION
I have grown up over a long time in Nigeria to understand that if you say anything that runs counter to popular opinion, attempt to defend any one already judged and condemned either by the media or the mob or say what is regarded as not politically correct you are likely to be attacked by those who do not have the intellectual discipline to accommodate differing opinion or view. But because, I always want to stand up for the underdog and maligned, I must stand up and go against popular opinion on certain recent developments in the Nation. I do this because I know that there are always two or three sides to a coin and I hate to be among those who shout 'crucify him, crucify him' just to please Pilate, even if the man is innocent as the Pharisees did to Jesus.
Recently, I read the comments of some people who were abusing Bishop Oyedepo of the Winners Chapel because he was said to have said a prayer which was seen as not politically correct. He was reported to have prayed to God to break up this Country if it is His will and if it is the only way peace will reign in this Country. I do not know if the story is indeed true, because in the media, words can be put into peoples' mouths. If it is true, then I can understand his frustration. If we have been praying for the unity of our Country for over 50 years and it seems that we are getting progressively disunited, then it is within human logic to conclude that it may not be actually the will of God. But more importantly, most Nigerians who are religious believe that God is in control of the affairs of Men and many insist that the will of God must be done at all times and that it is always the best for us. So we can not and must not quarrel with that kind of prayer. We want peace in our Country. We want development. But We do not like what is going on in our Country, where lives are being wasted every day around the Country. Why must we kill ourselves everyday and still want to live together? So I fully support whatever It takes to bring peace and stop this carnage going on in this Country. And for me the will of God should be done, whether or not, it agrees with our wish. That I believe is what every religion preaches and we should not abuse any one who prays that the will of God for Nigeria should be done!
In the last week, the media has been filled with the condemnation of one Mr Jim Osayande Obazee who until last week was the Executive Secretary Of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC).He was said to have issued a code of corporate governance which led to the resignation of Pastor Enoch Adeboye as the General Overseer of the RCCG in Nigeria after 32 years. He has been severely criticized in the media and it looked like he committed Harakiri. Of course, his immediate sack by the President supports the belief that he did something unpardonable. But his instant replacement, which is uncharacteristic of this government, indicates that his sack was on the offing. I believe that many people had been pushing for his sack, especially since he had a running battle with some corporate organizations last year. This National Corporate Governance code must be the last straw that broke the Carmel's back especially when it was said that he refused to obey the directive of the minister to defer the implementation of the code. I do not know this Obazee guy from Adam but I have been fascinated by the way he went about his job. He made the FRC active and worked to introduce several innovations in the mandate of what hitherto, was a mundane and unknown organization. He was the one who saw Nigeria's transition to the International Financial Reporting system in quick and orderly way. True, many people especially corporate organizations had complained of his arrogance and high-handedness, which I deprecate, but Mr Obazee looked to me like an unusual public servant, one who had a vision, determined to change the status quo and was un afraid to stand up for his belief . Such characters are rare in our public service and if our Country must change and rise from the 3rd World to the 1st World, which is my passion, we need men like Obazee, who of course must be properly guided through an effective governance to ensure they do not run riot or appropriate public policy to achieve personal goals. Having said that, I do not see what is wrong in setting up certain code of corporate governance for All Non- governmental institutions, religious bodies inclusive. Man by Nature can abuse every privilege if there is no check. And it is clear to all, what is happening in many of our religious organizations. Some form of governance code, well fashioned out, thoroughly debated and agreed with stakeholders must be pursued even after the exit of Mr Obazee. This is not to interfere with religious activities as envisioned by the Licensing proposal of Kaduna State or legislating the internal affairs of religious organizations. But Leaving Religious organizations by whatever name to go about the way some are going, dehumanizing human beings as one Bishop King did,refusing to recognize the sovereignty of Nigeria as as some Islamic groups or fleecing poor adherents to live luxurious lives is not in the best interest of the true worship of God.
I hope that someday, Mr Obazee will find his voice to give his side of this incident. I admire his civility in keeping quiet, taking all the hit even as Jesus Christ did on the cross of Calvary. Hopefully our judgement and wholesome condemnation of his actions may be better balanced when we hear his side of the story and he may yet turn out to be a hero instead of the villain he seems to be right now. That is a lesson I have learnt from history.
Prof Wole Soyinka said "we must tame religion or religion will kill us" He wondered what the World would be if " Religion was not invented". He actually would like Religion killed. My answer is that religion was not invented just as race or human colour was not invented. What has been invented is false religion. Religion has been with man from creation. No matter the religious sect or what theory of creation that any one believes in, Man has sought God from the Foundation of the Earth. In Africa, before the arrival of Christianity and Islam,the Native Africans worshiped one god or another. It was not invented. They saw the awesomeness of the World and the beauty of creation and knew that there was a force or power greater than they that was responsible for creation. Human beings are spiritual creatures with a longing for God in their hearts. The Bible says that ""only fools say there is no God" Before Christianity & Islam, there were inter-tribal wars. Men ate their fellow human beings or buried the dead with the living, killed twins and used all kinds of poisons-physical and spiritual to destroy their neighbours. So man's inhumanity against his fellow man was not created by religion.
The truth is that many people are committing heinous crimes because they have filled their spiritual void with false gods. I do not know much about Islam, Hindu or the other World religions but I know something about Christianity. Christianity is classified as a religion, but in essence, it is God seeking Man. And all those who accepted God's invitation have become New creatures. They hate what God hates. God hates murder and the wanton killing of the innocent. Christians can only defend themselves when attacked but can not go out of their way to attack the innocent. That is what Jesus Christ has taught all those who are truly Christians. The kernel of Christian religion is love of God and the love of the neighbour. I suspect this may be true of some other true religions. So it is futile to try and kill religion.
What needs to be done is, rather than lament as we have been doing and asking questions as to why offenders in the name of religion are not tried or brought to Justice as the Vice President did last week at a book launch, is to enforce the laws of the Nation strictly, without fear or favour. Offenders must be promptly arrested and put through Justice. Speedy and conclusive justice is possible if the government has the will. The Executive, Legislature and Judiciary are arms of the same Government. With appropriate leadership, Nigeria can faithfully implement its laws in a way that discourages bad behaviour in every form and elicits confidence. The crisis & killings involving Fulani Herdsmen and local farmers in Benue, in Nassarawa, in Plateau, in Kogi, in Enugu, in Ekiti, in Anambra, in Delta, in Abia and now in Southern Kaduna has gone on for so long with little punishment and little deterrence. If Government is helpless, no body should blame anybody else ,not even religion!
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR