DIALOGUE WITH AKIN OSUNTOKUN
Several weeks ago, I anticipated the concerns of Pastor Enoch Adeboye with this conclusion: “I have decided to broach the advocacy of restructuring this time around on account of the apparent foreclosure of any meaningful constitutional review by the status quo powers and the increasing perception of such foreclosure as the abrogation of the middle ground. In consequence, hope and belief in restructuring is being gradually eroded and supplanted by recourse to the option of outright self determination”.
Adeboye inhabits and straddles the complex and contradictory world of faith and science, mathematics, to be precise. He was colleagues with another pentecostal church giant, Pastor Williams Kumuyi of the Deeper Life Christian missionaries, at the department of mathematics, University of Lagos, where they both served as assistant professors, before shedding the academic gown for the pastor’s cassock in the early seventies. So was Dr. D. K. Olukoya (of the sprawling and expansive Mountain of Fire and Miracles) a lecturer at the Faculty of Science, University of Lagos when he heard the call to become a minister in God’s vineyard.
Given that ‘faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’; and science on the other hand personifies the culture of predicating belief on verifiable, empirical, provable, explanatory and replicable knowledge, both traditions have coexisted in conflict and contradiction over the ages. You would then wonder at the proclivity and predisposition of these scientists towards ‘spiritual conviction rather than proof’. To begin to make sense of the riddle of the conflict between the secular scientific tradition and religious faith, the archetype progenitor of Judeo Christian civilisation, Jesus Christ, clarified that ‘give unto God, what is God’s and give unto Ceaser what is Caesar’s’. The applicability of this scriptural injunction is that the secular dispensation, inclusive of the scientific tradition, need not be in conflict with faith-based Christianity even if they are mutually exclusive. The rightness of one does not presuppose the wrongness of the other. It is not a zero sum equation. Yet, both callings speak and pontificate with authority, certainty and certitude. The word of God is immutable and so does the scientific equation of two plus two equals four remain eternally true.
In Adeboye, the two cultures are twinned and find a great exponent. This much, he brought to bear in his quaint mathematical exposition and understanding of the peculiar political conundrum confronting Nigeria at the 60th Independence Day celebration symposium co-organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God and the Nehemiah Leadership Institute. Pontificates Adeboye “in Mathematics if you want to solve a problem, you try what we call Real Analysis, then if it doesn’t work, then you move on to Complex Analysis and see whether that will help you. If that fails, you move on to Vector Analysis and so on”. Just like the cause and effect relationship between the theory of relativity and the atomic bomb is no longer up for debate; the revelation knowledge that comes from whoever is deemed an authentic mouthpiece of God cannot be contradicted. To do so amounts to the repudiation of belief in the existence and supernatural power of God who speaks through his prophets and ministers. As mathematician and prophet, it is on the power of these two unassailable platforms that Adeboye stood to pronounce the dire prognosis he recently gave on Nigeria. He was delivering a value free conclusion in the best tradition of the intellectual who pursues the truth to its logical conclusion regardless of the path it takes. In the spirit of intellectual engagement softened with light-hearted banter, Adeboye noted: “We all know that we must restructure. It is either we restructure or we break, you don’t have to be a prophet to know that one. That is certain – restructure or we break up.
“Now, we don’t want to break up, God forbid. Some people feel that all our problems will be over if Nigeria should break up. I think that is trying to solve the problems of Nigeria as if it is a Simple Equation. The problems of Nigeria will require quite a bit of Simultaneous Equation and some of them are not going to be Linear either – forgive me I am talking as a Mathematician”.
Coming on top of similar strictures from the preeminent ranks of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Professor Wole Soyinka, the Northern Elders Forum and Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency was duly spooked hence the recourse to the characteristic blind and abtruse response. In typical poorly thought through and appalling rendition, the presidency pushed back- Buhari Administration Will Not Succumb To Threats And Undue Pressure “The Presidency responds to the recurring threats to the corporate existence of the country with factions giving specific timelines for the president to do one thing or another or else, in their language, “the nation will break-up.
This is to warn that such unpatriotic outbursts are both unhelpful and unwarranted as this government will not succumb to threats and take any decision out of pressure at a time when the nation’s full attention is needed to deal with the security challenges facing it at a time of the Covid-19 health crisis. Repeat: this administration will not take any decision against the interests of 200 million Nigerians, who are the president’s first responsibility under the constitution, out of fear or threats especially in this hour of health crisis. The president as an elected leader under this constitution will continue to work with patriotic Nigerians, through and in line with the parliamentary processes to finding solutions to structural and other impediments to the growth and wellbeing of the nation and its people.”
I have recalled the response at length in order to extrapolate from its quality, the poverty of the mind from which it was issued and the consequences of such incapacity for Nigeria going forward. At the eminently symbolic threshold of the golden jubilee anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, the tragic irony is having as president the most divisive, intellectually challenged and unenlightened occupant of that high office. While accusing others of posing ‘recurring threats to the corporate existence of the country, unpatriotic outbursts, dividing the nation while President Muhammadu Buhari continues to promote nation building and the unity of Nigeria’; and within one week of the important October 1st 2020 national milestone, President Buhari, once again, drew attention to the incongruity between the aspiration for Nigerian nationhood and a president who has perfected the art of perennially calling that aspiration to question.
“Of the total 628 cadet trainees who had resumed at the Bauchi facility as of September 23, 535 trainees joined the service from either the North-east or the North-west. Only 93 were from either the South-east, South-south, South-west or North-central”. And “While speaking on behalf of aggrieved senators, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said that Umar, from the North-east, should not have replaced, the former DG, Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, who is from the South-east. He said Buhari’s action was a flagrant breach of the Act that established the PenCom”. “Section 20(1) and section 21(1) and (2) of the National Pension Commission Act 2014, states, “In the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint a replacement from the geopolitical zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure.” And in tandem, the Nigerian Customs carried out an exercise in which in the following appointees were next in hierarchy to Comptroller General Hameed Ali, Abdullahi Babani, Mohammed Boyi (Deputy Comptroller Generals); Saidu Galadima, SM Modibbo, Uba Mohammed, Hamza Gummi, Usman Dakingari (Assistant Comptroller Generals).
Before now and in exasperation, Colonel Dangiwa Umar had lamented “One of the swiftest ways of destroying a Kingdom is to give preference of one particular tribe over another or show favor to one group of people rather than another. And to draw near those who should be kept away and keep away those who should be drawn near” (quoting Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio).
“All those who wish you and the country well must mince no words in warning you that Nigeria has become dangerously polarised and risk sliding into crisis on account of your administration’s lopsided appointments which continues to give undue preference to some sections of the country over others.
Nowhere is this more glaring than in the leadership cadre of our security services.
Mr. President, I regret that there are no kind or gentle words to tell you that your skewed appointments into the offices of the federal government, favouring some and frustrating others, shall bring ruin and destruction to this nation”. In a grave indication of the nature of the mind of this government, it has taken to reducing such admonitions to the theory of envy “With so much to show and many more coming, preens Buhari, it is little surprise that President Buhari would be the object of envy and harsh unfair challenges by politicians who failed to deliver, but continue to nurse ambitions of delighting the audience long after their curtain has been drawn”.
The fact that this government conceives itself as worthy of envy is an evidence of the magnitude of the governance crisis besetting Nigeria. This is a President whose record of achievements include taking Nigeria to the pedestal of the poverty capital of the world, of number fourteen on the failed states index amongst other atrocious indications.
As evidence of this enviable status here is the latest testimony from the British house of lords “We write to highlight urgent concerns about escalating violence in Nigeria where attacks led by Boko Haram, Fulani herders and other Islamic militia continue in Northern and central-belt states with reports of increasing violence in the South-east.
The Nigerian former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma, whom some of us have met and spoken to, says the armed forces are “not neutral, they collude” in the “ethnic cleansing” by Fulani herders. He insists that villagers must defend themselves because “depending on the armed forces” will result in them dying” one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop. The state’s failure to protect its citizens is a clear breach of its obligations under the commonwealth charter in respect of human rights. There is now an urgent need (a) to ensure adequate protection and aid for those suffering the loss of family members and destruction of their homes and livelihood.”