Posted by Emeka Ugwuonye | 5 January 2015 | 5,926 times
For Nigeria to develop as a strong and viable sovereign nation, we must separate the state from religion, and not merge them in some unholy matrimony. Unfortunately, in Nigeria the state has never been separate from religion, and the people have suffered for it. Throughout our post-independence era, we have jostled to align the state with one religion or the other, with billions of naira squandered on pilgrimmages to Meca and Jerusalem.
Under Muslim leaders, Nigeria is pushed toward Islam and Meca, which explains how our last President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua almost died in Saudi Arabia.
Now that there is a Christian Head of State, we see the state and government pushed toward Christianity. As part of this, the President of the country, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, keeps all manner of unsettling affiliations with “Men of God” and all kinds of shenanigans are occurring between Aso Rock and the pastors. Some of these pastors are major contractors and racketeers in political circles.
The President conspires with these men of God to defraud the poor unsuspecting Nigerian masses. In fact, more than any other President before him, Jonathan has used the churches and the pastors to oppress Nigerians.
It is in the context of this development that one finds it extremely interesting to hear one of the “Men of God” break ranks and attack President Jonathan, describing him as bad luck and too corrupt to continue. Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka’s rebellion from what appeared as the conspiracy of the Presidency and the “Men of God” is a development that is in the interest of Nigerians. For the first time in this election season, there
is about to be a genuine debate over the candidates vying for the office as President. Without Mbaka, Jonathan had almost succeeded in blindfolding everybody in the Eastern part of Nigeria and having them thinking that this election is between Christianity and Islam or between the Igbos and the Hausa Fulanis, when in fact is all about his further enrichment and for the benefit of is cronies.
Every Nigerian ought to be grateful to Father Mbaka for exploding the bubble of the conspiracy and fraud that Jonathan’s administration foisted on Nigerians. Jonathan reduced his fellow country men and country women into zombies, who were meant to think that there was a dividing line and people were to be pigeonholed based on their religion and tribe. But Mbaka, a religious man and one of the former supporters of Jonathan, says no. It is not about religion and it is not about tribe. Rather, it is about the material well-being of Nigerians. He says it is about peace and stability and human progress.
Of course, as well expected, the effect of years of zombification of Nigerians was seen as some of Jonathan’s supporters failed to understand and appreciate the implications of Mbaka’s position. They attacked Mbaka and tried to reduce his argument to the old and worn out model of tribe and religion.
Understandably, President Jonathan is said to have been so greatly shaken by Mbaka’s rebellion and the President has sent emissaries to plead with Mbaka to relent. They have asked Mbaka to please retract his comments, which the priest flatly turned down. They are now settling on the second objective to get him not to make any more of such statements until after the elections. It is not just the statements of Mbaka that they President is worried about. Rather, the President is worried about the unravelling of the government/church conspiracy under which it is expected that majority of the pastors in Nigeria would come together and campaign to reelect him. It is that religious structure that has been threatened.
Every serious-minded person in Nigeria understood this religious infrastructure and structures that Jonathan had planned to rely on. That is partly why APC is using a Pastor of one of the major churches in Nigeria as Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate – to weaken that religious structure. So, please begin now to appreciate the full implications of Mbaka’s rebellion or opposition. Personally, it is a kind of poetic justice to see Jonathan fall victim of his own unholy scheme of misusing the name of God for political office.
It is too late to tell Mbaka to mind his religion. If you say that to Mbaka, then you must say the same to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and all those that take the President to Israel to make a fool of the country. Jonathan rides in the name of the Lord. It is nice for him to fall in the name of the Lord. And Mbaka actually warned the other Pastors around the President. He knew why he warned them.
So, the game has finally begun and I want Nigerians to get a fair deal. When they go to the poll, they should be better informed what they are doing.
•Emeka Ugwuonye, lawyer and acticvist, whose photo appears alongside this piece, writes from Lagos.
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