Haba, Oga Ichabod, Were You Actually Called?
Grace Ego Omoni
The world is changing rapidly in all facets of life…technology, science, education, fashion, money-making and of course our religion including absurd activities of many church leaders, I mean the so- called “men of God.” Stories surrounding the “self-anointed men of God” are so incredible that one is left but to ask whether they were really called by the Lord who instituted the church or it was a self-induced call.
Career choice in guidance and counselling in the school system is based on the use of psychological tests, one of which is the Vocational Interest Inventory by Prof C.G.M Bakare. Unfortunately, many schools know little or nothing about this all-important tool which assists students to choose a career based on their area of interest, ability and capability. So many people find themselves in professions not actually meant for them but are there just to make two ends meet. Of all the professions most bastardized, is the pastoral ministry where we find every dick and harry calling and parading themselves as “men of God” whereas the anointing is very, very far away from them.
They are of different shades: the trained but not carrying grace, the charlatans, the self-appointed church leader, the illiterate pastor, the morally bankrupt church leader, the false prophets/prophetesses and the general overseer church leader( which I have labelled: one-man company) and a host of others. My problem is that many of these so-called “men of God” do not realise that church leadership is dependant on God’s power and call and not just a feeling or a desire. It is a decision taken which entails relying on God based on what He has revealed about Himself through His nature and the Scripture.
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Unfortunately, some of these “men of God” who are supposed to influence society positively in their biblical teachings and moral behaviours are the ones perpetrating corruption and immorality unabated in their environment. Unhealthy toxic culture has crept into the church and it is being spread sporadically by this calibre of Christians popularly applauded as “men of God.” Hence my question: Haba, Mr. Ichabod, were you actually called or you see this noble profession as your last resort after failing to secure a job in the secular world? Why have you decided to make the glory of God to depart from the church? This article is meant to help us reposition and redefine the influence and the role of church leaders in our society and not in any way to bring her to disrepute.
Thus, we shall be looking at this discussion under the following sub-topics:
1) The characteristics of the ideal church leader or pastor.
2)Levels of immorality among pastors.
3)Factors facilitating immorality among pastors.
4)Consequences of these practices on the society.
As earlier observed, this article is not to play down Christianity but it is with a view to repositioning the integrity of the church and for society to realise that the office of the pastor is sacred, noble, ordained by God, a model worthy of emulation and thus must be held in high esteem.
Characteristics of an ideal pastor or man of God or church leader:
According to 1Cor 2: 14, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” Thus a real man of God is spiritually inclined, anointed and called by God Himself. He is able to discern spiritual things; listens and hears from God. He is one who can give a defined testimony of his or her call into the ministry. Such a one must have undergone proper training in a bible school, a theological seminary or college. There must be evidence of this training; he or she must show evidence of being qualified to pastor the church by his or her character. That is he must possess a licence which gives him the authority to minister under laid down principles, beliefs and practices of the denomination he belongs to. This licence acts as checks and balances to him in his role as a church pastor. The implication is that such a licence can be withdrawn from a pastor who fails to live up to expectations as outlined in the ethics, beliefs and practices of the church.
The scripture also identifies the many qualities of a pastor. He must be blameless, husband of one wife with disciplined children and able to rule his house. He must not be a drunk nor a brawler. He must not be covetous. He must be of very good moral behaviour, accommodating, not greedy or boastful or proud. The pastor is patient, not given to wine, hospitable, vigilant, full of wisdom from above and not sexually immoral or weak. He is not given to telling lies, not quarrelsome or one who exhibits uncontrollable anger. He is disciplined, , a lover of peace, sober and is judicious with his speech and not greedy for riches or women. He must be able to teach the word in truth and in spirit and must be able to influence the church and the society positively.
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Levels of unethical and immoral behaviour among pastors.
The church is supposed to be the core institution where morality is taught and a campaign against immorality ought to be mostly carried out. Morality relates to the act of being right or wrong. It pertains to the principles concerning good or bad behaviour in which man is supposed to act; whereas, immorality connotes unethical practices not acceptable by the society. It pertains to all forms of absurd abominable corrupt and evil acts by individuals. It is pathetic to observe that immorality among Christian leaders/ pastors is going on at an alarming rate.
The level of immorality among “men of God” is rampant and high and causing embarrassment to the church. It has negatively affected the society. It has brought serious shame, disgrace and mockery to Christendom as well as lawlessness/disorderliness to the larger society. It is an irony that men of God who are supposed to be role models to the secular world are actually the shameless vanguards and perpetrators of immorality. The integrity of the church is now at stake making the glory of God to depart( Ichabod).
Stories of pastors engaging in all manner of unethical practices, corruption and immorality abound. They range from frauds, deceptions, intimidation, false teachings and prophecies, heterosexual and homosexual acts ( gay/lesbianism relationships), sex abuse, adultery, fornication, violent conducts, vandalism, covetousness, pride and power intoxication to misappropriation of church funds, acts of schism, cheating, swindling of funds, fighting, lying, ostentatious lifestyles and bullying. Here are some scenarios as reported in the media, by friends and those personally witnessed. It was reported recently in the media of a pastor caught in an adulterous act with a member’s wife and he shamelessly asserted that God told him to do so. Does God have a double standard?
The 10th commandment says that we should not covet a neighbour’s wife but this pastor claimed that God told him to sleep with his member’s wife right inside the church office! Haba! Some weeks back, a pastor was made to pay the dowry and perform all the marriage and funeral rites of a dead woman who had an abortion for him. It was reported that he forced the lady to go for an abortion because it was shameful to hear that he put a girl in the family way out of wedlock. Just a few days ago, a friend narrated how a pastor resold plots of land he had already sold years past to new buyers just recently and lavished the proceeds on women leaving the mother, the real owner of the land homeless and the immediate family in total penury.
Presently, he is roaming about with nothing because the church has relieved him of his appointment. Yet another story of our so-called “men of God.” Some years ago, a pastor fought his members in the church with only his pants on in the presence of onlookers and without remorse. He was already at loggerheads with the church, so he refused to release the musical instrument for the members to use. What a shameful act! What a world! Recently, a group of people witnessed an ugly situation of money swindling by a pastor right inside the church and people could not talk and arrogantly carted the money away.
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A story was also told of a pastor who engaged in administering drugs and giving medical treatment to people in a village in the Niger Delta Region. He was neither a trained nurse nor a doctor or a pharmacist. This very pastor was also involved in a sexual relationship with a widow in the church. This last but not the least story is an eye-witness account. During an executive zonal meeting of a denomination, this pastor exhibited very terrible anger and boasted to members of how three of our members died because he was challenged. He confiscated the property of the church he was pastoring under his care, carried away the church notice board, sold the church land, resisted arrest and attempted fighting the police when he was to be arrested.
Dear reader, what will you call this kind of pastor… a murderer, or a sorcerer or a cultist or a thug? I can go on and on to cite examples. Some are ritualists, cultists, serial killers, rapists, dupes and thieves. I am led to ask, is it compulsory to be a “man of God”? Should you use this sacred title to cover up for your atrocities, Mr. Ichabod? Yet many people are still following them sheepishly even when the glory of God has left them. Some of them cannot teach the undiluted word of God.By their fruits, you shall know them!
Factors facilitating immorality among pastors:
These will be briefly itemized:
a) Many pastors are not called by God. They are self-made.
b) Many lack formal education.
c) Most of them do not have pastoral training. They neither went to bible schools nor theological institutions.
d) Some came into the profession just to have a means of livelihood.
e) There is proliferation of false prophets for money-making.
f) Many people patronize them with money for powers and to help them solve their seemingly insurmountable problems.
g) The society worships them without questioning their source of power.
h) The society is already lawless and disorderly.
i) Unemployment and poor economy sydrome.
j) The craze for wealth and power.
k) Gullibility of followers especially the female gender.
l) High-level criminality in the society without appropriate punishment meted out to culprits.
m) The culture of silence among the high and the low especially, the leadership of the Christian Council of Nigeria. The idea of covering up the atrocities of these pastors has eaten deep into the society.
n) Proliferation of churches in every nook and cranny of the society by men of shady characters. The factors are inexhaustible!
Consequences of unethical behaviour and practices by the so-called “men of God”:
a)Disruption of the integrity of the Church of Christ. Their unethical and immoral practices have brought shame and mockery to Christendom. The Glory of God seems to have departed from many churches.
b) It has increased the level of doubt people have on the integrity of real pastors in our churches.
c) Societal lawlessness, indiscipline and criminality are on the increase as unscrupulous individuals hide under the name of the churches to perpetrate heinous crimes in the society.
d) There is a high rate of sexual atrocities among members and their pastors. Cases of sexual abuse, heterosexual and homosexual relationships abound now as well as adultery. These have led to a high rate of divorce and single parenthood. e)Paternity issues are on the increase no doubt.
f) Instability in families is also on the increase.
g) Many so-called men of God seek powers from herbalists, cultists and marine spirits leading to more evil such as ritual killings.
h) Since it is now a lucrative business, charlatans, false prophets and false teachings are on the increase.
i) Competition and jealousy among pastors are now the other of the day. There is no more unity, love and peace in the body of Christ.
j) Conflicts and schism( division) in the church is the order of the day.
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1)Formal education and seminary training must be the criteria for becoming a church leader. The Christian Association of Nigeria must see to this.
2) the curriculum content of training pastors must include relationships, educational laws, rights of the citizen and guidance and counselling. These will help would-be pastors to adjust well to societal issues.
3) Seminars and workshops should be organised periodically by different bodies such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, denominations, non-governmental organisations, counsellors, bible schools and theological seminaries for pastors in the field to discuss trends in their profession as they relate to the society.
4) sanctions should be meted out to culprits.
5) The culture of silence should be stopped among Christians especially by the leadership of CAN.
6) Men of God found guilty should be prevented from practising as church leaders and the licence of such withdrawn. No pastor should be allowed to practise without licence from a properly registered seminary or bible school.
7) The society should stop being gullible and learn not to be easily deceived by this category of pastors. So church members need counselling too on who to call to pastor the church and how to handle him when issues on unethical behaviour arises in the church .
8) Families should take care of their children and spouses. Members should caution themselves on too much dependence on their pastors. This gullibility should stop.
9) The society should lay emphasis on morals and not on wealth, fame and power.
10) Churches take care of your pastors financially, morally and socially. They are human beings and can be tempted, so pray for them without
We exhibit faith when we trust in the wisdom and logic of God’s plan. Faith in God is a choice and not a feeling. Many so-called men of God are but a lie and exhibit behaviours that have brought shame to Christendom in Nigeria. Unhealthy toxic culture at work in the church has penetrated the society at large. This includes money temptation, sexual temptation, anti-Christ teachings, suspicious criminal acts such as cultism, ritual murders, exaggeration of fake miracles, lies, pride and fraudulent “men of God” playing god before their gullible members. These practices have influenced the society negatively and have also destroyed the integrity of the Christian body in Nigeria. The glory of. God is fast departing in churches harbouring this category of church leaders .
The culture of silence among the high and low in the church has further heightened the scandals, abuses and moral fallouts among the pastors. There is a call that enough is enough! The church leadership should rise up to fight against this pollution and unhealthy immorality in the church by teaching the undiluted word of God, resisting unethical behaviour by fellow men of God, counselling, restoring the old-time religion of the apostles, abolishing the culture of silence and flushing out culprits, withdrawing their licence and taking legal actions against them. These will help in restoring the glory of God in our churches and further bring sanity to the society.
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Who Needs Counseling In Nigeria?
By Leo Igwe
In January, I registered for a professional course in counseling at the Attitude Development Institute (ADI) in Lagos. After my doctoral program in religious studies, I thought I was done doing any other academic course. But I was mistaken. I recently noticed that something was missing in my academic and learning accessories. And I needed to rectify it. So I started this professional diploma program. I embarked on this course in my quest for a more competent way to assist people who contact me for help and support. Many contact me saying that they are tired of life and could not find anything meaningful to do or to earn a living. Many attribute their problems to ‘village people’, witches and wizards, generational curses, evil spirits, jinns, demonic attacks, etc. Many attribute their failures, setbacks and misfortunes to juju or harmful magic. I decided to do this diploma in counseling because I felt that something was lacking in my knowledge and understanding of human beings and human problems.
Last year, a lecturer on guidance and counseling at a college of agriculture in Ebonyi state invited me to come and talk to some of his students. Some of the students wanted to do money rituals and he was worried. This lecturer asked me to come and persuade them against engaging in this futile and criminal venture. But how could I do this professionally and effectively?
I wondered what else to tell these students apart from what I had repeatedly said in the past. That money ritual was a superstition, and the belief had no basis in reason or reality. But will that help? Will that be enough? Will the students be persuaded by that proposition? I asked. I felt that telling them that ritual money was a myth would likely be an exercise in futility. It would likely be inadequate and would not yield effective results. I felt that young people needed a more structured way to get them to change these thoughts and behavior. Anyway, I went to that college of education and met with some students and spent time talking to them, advising and persuading them not to indulge in money rituals. I urged them to try and complete their education and then seek out other evidence-based ways of making money. I do not know if my talk yielded any positive results.
Before and after this incident I encountered many who strongly believed in ritual money, and who, given the opportunity could kill, or use human body parts for rituals. Last year, someone contacted me from Kwara state. He inquired how he could do money rituals. I offered similar advice. Some people have contacted me seeking some other forms of help and support. Someone called from Imo state asking how he could stop gambling. That it was ruining his business and that his friends were pointing accusing fingers at his landlady. They said the woman was a witch and was responsible for his dwindling fortune. I offered him some words of advice. Also, in advocating against witch persecution, I have come across people who had anxiety, and mental and emotional disorders but who attribute these psychological problems and other existential challenges to witchcraft. I have been looking for competent ways to manage witchcraft believers and suspecters. I have been searching for more professional ways to support traumatized victims and survivors. I have been seeking a skillful mechanism to empower, guide and enable entertainers of witchcraft fears and sufferers of witch persecution to heal, recover and take control of their lives.
Beyond that, there are personal reasons. I am the first son in my family. I started dealing with family issues at a very young age without any knowledge of human psychology. I was socialized to help my younger brothers and lead even when I barely knew my left from my right. I was made to manage and resolve family-related issues even when I was a child with barely an understanding of how life worked. I was not self-aware or socially aware. I did not know human personalities and temperaments. I was not allowed to grow like every other child. I was pressured to behave like the first son, the deputy head of the family, and to intervene in family issues including my parents’ marital issues. Even now my father has passed away, I manage family issues and deal with members with personality disorders and untreated traumas, including my siblings who engage in micro/transferred aggressions and other negative behaviors rooted in childhood experiences. They intentionally make life miserable for me; they complicate matters to settle childhood scores, to punish or deal with me for some real or imagined privilege that they thought I had enjoyed as a first son.
In addition, I started teaching at 17 years, I taught at a local seminary and helped in nurturing children. I did not know children and educational psychology. It was like a child teaching children. It was while studying for my bachelor’s in philosophy that I did some psychology courses. I learned about Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Ivan Pavlov and their explanations of human behavior. But it was all theory. Then my focus was on getting good grades and passing examinations, not applying the knowledge to real life and issues. In the course of my humanist work and campaign, I have come across people suffering from religious trauma, and victims of religious oppression and persecution.
I would like to offer them effective help and support. As a humanist celebrant, I help families that are grieving, couples who are getting married, or those celebrating the arrival of a new baby. To provide effective help and services, I realized that I needed some professional training in counseling. I searched online and got some information about one Counseling Association of Nigeria. I contacted them and registered. But I realized that the focus was mainly on guidance and counseling in schools. That is important. But that was not what I wanted. My impression was that the association was mainly for teachers and lecturers. I needed some training that could qualify me as a professional counselor. I went online and saw some information about two counseling institutes in Lagos. They offer professional training.
One is in Ikeja, which is the ADI, and the other is in Victoria Island. I spoke to some counselors and one recommended ADI. After some telephone conversations and WhatsApp exchanges with the director of the Institute, I enrolled in its diploma class. The classes are held once every week. I joined the second week. After my first class, I realized that I was in the right place and that the program that they offered was what I was looking for. It was a twelve-week program, very intense. The courses included the foundations of counseling, counseling theories, and skills, children/teenage counseling, marriage/family counseling, and crisis/trauma counseling. Some of the courses focused on Christian counseling, grief counseling, sex therapy, and mental health. When I started I was worried that the lectures would be bland, another monotonous exercise in issuing handouts, but they were not. The lectures were interesting. And the lecturers were engaging and entertaining. They were very articulate and used so many examples to illustrate their points. The program occasioned some intellectual shocks and dissonance. It has helped me to correct some misconceptions about counseling and counselors. First I realized the importance of counseling and counselors. Look, human beings suffer both physical and emotional injuries. Both injuries are treatable. While medical doctors help treat physical wounds, counselors as therapists help treat emotional and psychological injuries. Again, counseling is widely understood to mean advice. We were told several times that counselors were not advisers. They do not advise their clients. A foremost counselor, Irvin Yalom whose book, Love’s Executioner, we reviewed throughout the course said the task of a counselor was to make himself or herself obsolete. Yes, it is tacitly saying that for the counselee to live, the counselor must die. He noted that the counselor’s role was to help the client take responsibility for making himself or herself better. Instead of advising, counselors support counselees to take control of their healing and living.
Again, throughout the program, the lecturers made it clear that one of the characteristics of a good counselor was listening. A counselor must be a good listener. He or she must have good listening skills. Also, counseling was not meant for some people, some psychologically troubled and maladjusted people. Instead, the lecturers made it clear that counseling was for everyone, for both the counselors and the counselees. In the course of the lectures I kept flashing back and recalling so many people that I have met in life who needed counseling. Everyone is grappling with some trauma or emotional issue at one time or the other. They encouraged the trainees to go for counseling. Each class was indirectly an exercise in group counseling and therapy because the classes provided opportunities for members to pour it out, to draw from their life, work, and family experiences in discussing the topics.
Yes, I realized that everybody needed counseling. And nothing illustrated the need better than a particular incident that happened during the program. Due to some miscommunication, one of the counselors managing the program communicated the wrong date for the class graduation to the management. When she came and informed the class, she was told that she communicated the wrong date. And this counselor became furious(meanwhile her name is also Fu…something). Discussions became quite heated and tense because she continued to insist that she communicated the correct date. The room became very noisy and rowdy because some people were trying to correct her but she refused. At some point, a member of this class set that calls itself, Ignite, raised her voice. She is in this class of women with a huge and imposing stature, looked quiet from the outside, and could be mistaken as phlegmatic. She said emphatically while pointing her five fingers at this counselor and swinging the hand up and down: “You are not listening”, “You are not listening”. At that point, the counselor tried to calm down. A senior management colleague intervened and urged the counselor to leave the room. As soon as she left, another class member said: “She needs counseling”. And some class members chuckled.
So, everybody needs counseling in Nigeria.
Igwe,PhD, is a trainee counselor at the Attitude Development Institute, Lagos.
Professors On INEC’s Will (4)
By Tony Afejuku
These past three weeks have been three supreme weeks of supreme value to all of us who have been gluing ourselves to this column for the right reasons: No room for lying; no room for deceits; no room for propaganda; no room for vanity. No room, no room, no room for what should not be here. Thoughts of the streams, thoughts of the spheres, music of the streams, music of the spheres enhance the column in diverse ways.
Our debaters for the past three weeks have demonstrated this. Each of the professors (all of them, in fact) has demonstrated this in the geometry of their presentations, in the minds of their geo-biographies, in the arithmetic of their convictions and persuasions. They in varying degrees did not support the will of INEC in the presidential election, even though the INEC chair is one of them, a fellow professor in the sphere of the humanities. In going over the longitude and latitude of the flow of our professors, of our debating professors, in their authentic and responsible sphere of spheres the clarity and precision of the geo-biography and nature of patience moved towards me. This may not be the right way of putting it, but I found and still find each debater to be a patient debater. Goodness! How a patiently patient listener and presider over the debate Professor Olu Obafemi was/is! The rhetoric of his ears or of his eyes or of his tongue was/is the rhetoric of the sage. If I imagined this, I imagined it well. His rhetoric was/is not the creation of this recorder, but it is the rhetoric of the music of the shaping of the debate and the words of the debaters who like him are fellow writers and creators.
Now I present to our readers the summation of Professor Olu Obafemi who presided over the reported affairs of the literati:
“This debate has gone on very well and quite enlightening. I have learnt quite a lot from the various positions eloquently proffered here. I like to chip in this bit: (1) there will not be much ideological departure from PMB to BAT. We will still operate a neoliberal economy, fraught largely with parasitism and consumerism. It is very likely, from his experience in investment, creative commercialism/commodity consciousness and cosmopolitanism in governance, Tinubu will be a lot more distribution-prone, more productive, and more people friendly than his predecessor; (2) having operated in comprador praxis in the US, Tinubu will engage globalization with discretionary envisioning (these are loaded, unconventional concepts that may require greater elucidation in future; (3) having not operated unitarist governance strategy that we have had since Ironsi till date, and with his governance experience in Lagos, including standing up to OBJ to run a well-structured State in Lagos, BAT will be more of his own man who will surround himself with talent rather than a cabalistic instinct (I am talking here about power delegation as opposed to power relegation); (4) we have good reason to believe that Tinubu will not go for a winner-take-all, conclave-prone governance and will strive to deliver goods and services— democracy dividends more generously/humanely. May the future be better and more tolerable for our people and all of us in this country, and all our fellows and compatriots in foreign lands, that is, the diaspora.”
But the pastor-spirit as well as the track of traditional culture in him elicited from Professor Ademola Da Sylva what amounted to a kind of vote of thanks to Professor Olu Obafemi and the co-debaters in the literati.
“Many thanks, Baba O.O., for your thoughtful, clinical and lucid interventions; and IBK’s, (and others’) too! So palpable and infectious are the feelings of hope, and delight of the innocent, that you have demonstrated in your concluding postings, and my silent response was a loud A-m-e-n! Then I turned to God the Almighty, and said, “Baba-God, these genuine feelings expressed by these great minds, aggregate what is uppermost in the mind of the Nigerian people at this point of our history. Can you, please, do this one last favour for the masses of this country? I believe it is not beyond what you as the Almighty can do for an otherwise potentially great country like Nigeria! Simply protect BAT, from the powers that have constituted themselves into human principalities in the corridor of power; completely and permanently seal the mouths of those demonic lions labelled as Cabals in Aso Rock that have, thus far, truncated Nigeria’s destiny! AMEN!” Perhaps we should remind ourselves that our hope was this high when many Nigerian voters, including yours truly, trouped out to vote in Buhari as President! Now, I remember, “demonic forces” written about by Reuben Abati during the Presidency of GEJ, unfortunately, like some nameless hydra monsters they always rear their ugly heads with every new administration, these Aso Rock principalities. PMB has his good share of them in the Abakyaris, and very familiar ones, for obvious reasons, like the Ngiges, et al, never for once did they allow PMB to be! They took advantage of his visibly infirm state, to take over the reins of governance in what could be described as a “civilian coup” and ran-over the ship of the country crashing against the Aso rock! The reason we are where we are, right now! BAT like PMB, also has a visibly infirm visage/characteristic unless we pretend to not acknowledge it, a new set of cabalistic demons would join forces with the existing ones, after all, it is still the same Political Party, to take advantage of BAT’s current clinical status! BAT of 20 or 10 years ago, isn’t the same BAT today on account of age and health. Yes, unless God Almighty does something about these principalities through His human agents, they might yet soon take over the affairs of Nigeria under BAT too, to do what they know best: to steal, to kill and to destroy, and ensure that the status quo remains as it has always been, in the spirit of Ted Hughe’s very famous poem, ‘The Eagle’!”
Well, well said, O debaters. But let the columnist-terminator and terminator-columnist have the last word. The time won’t be long to ask INEC this simple question: Did INEC lavish allegedly over three hundred billion naira to register the paltry figure or number of voters for the 2023 elections? Did the very small number (below ninety or so million) match the more than very huge sum of money that INEC got for registration of voters and for other election related matters, duties and responsibilities? How much money in millions upon millions did not allegedly go under and distributed to “principalities” and “demonic forces” hovering over Aso Rock and the Presidency of the presidencynologists? Any clear or unclear answers to these questions cannot or may not but tell us that the presidential election in particular was INEC’s will. Our debating Professors will not say on oath that they did not know. Did the presidential and other elections meet the expectations, wishes and will of the people generally? INEC has the answer. And our debating professors will bluntly tell the chairman of INEC this.
Because our professors are fellow writers, I must terminate the discourse by drawing their attention to the following poem “For the Consideration of Poets” by Haki R. Madhubuti (original name Don Luther Lee), the 81 years old African-American poet, author and publisher, and a native of Little Rock, Arkansas:
where is the poetry of resistance,
the poetry of honorable defiance
unafraid of lies from career
politicians and business men,
not respectful of journalists who write
official speak void of educated thought
without double search or sub surface questions
that war talk demands?
where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion
not in the service of the state, bishops
not in the service of beautiful people
and late night promises,
not in the service of influence,
incompetence and academic
The above lines speak volumes. Let them stay glued to our memories day by day. And may INEC’s chairman become the poet and historian of resistance after finding time to read this!
Terminated for now.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
Iwuanyanwu And The ‘Political Rascals’ Rhetoric
By Promise Adiele
Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play Waiting for Godot avails itself of multiple interpretative tools with a compelling grip on the moral imagination of the audience. As a timeless drama, it thrives on the hopelessness of the human condition dramatized by two vagabonds, Estragon and Vladimir who waited for a mysterious, titular Godot that never came. One of the features of the absurdist literary tradition portrayed in the play is the failure of language in the verbal context as a means of communication. The verbal exchange between the two vagabonds is evident of misinterpretation. One says one thing, the other interprets it differently. Thus, it calls to question the potency of language in the verbal medium as a means of communication. The preceding analogy reminds me of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and his purported insult to the good people of the Yoruba ethnic group. Perhaps, misinterpretation currently manifests as an inexorable content of Nigeria’s absurd credentials.
Last week, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, philanthropist, accomplished businessman, the Balogun Babaguwan of Yorubaland, Ahaejiejemba of Igboland and elder-statesman, while reacting to events that happened in Lagos during the last election when many Igbo people were bloodied and harassed, assured the world that “the Igbo and Yoruba are not at war”. On the heels of that statement came another one “they are Yoruba political rascals”. A syntactic analysis of the two sentences affirms that the Chief never meant to insult the entire Yoruba ethnic group. Rather, he was referring to rascals in Lagos who maimed, killed, and vanquished Igbos, non-Yorubas, and even some Yorubas with Igbo semblance, stopping them from exercising their voting rights during the election. He also said “we know them and we will deal with them”. Language scholars know that Chief Iwuanyanwu did not mean to insult the Yoruba. Sadly, some social nitwits, victims of acute cognitive impairment, went on a rampage to misinterpret and manipulate his statement to suit their treacherous, mischievous purposes. It is absurd.
Anyone who knows Chief Iwuaynanwu’s antecedent will never ascribe offensive rhetoric to him. He is soft-spoken, conciliatory and peace-loving. Like every sensible person around the world, not just the Igbo, he was aghast with lurid photos and video evidence of harm against the Igbo in Lagos during the last election. Unfortunately, people who ordinarily frolic in the whirlwind of ethnic hate have seized the opportunity to insult the Igbo ethnic group while using acerbic words on the revered Chief. These people, in their degenerate and diseased mentality, are trying to install a wall of hate between the Igbo and Yoruba. Let me state categorically that the Yorubas are wonderful people whose spirit of brotherliness, conviviality, and tolerance speaks volumes across the world. I have maintained over time that the Igbo and Yoruba share a cordial, interwoven relationship in marriage, business, friendship, association and neighbourliness. The two ethnic groups can never be involved in a conflict. Many Yoruba people have helped many Igbo people to their destinies and many Igbo people have helped many Yoruba people to their destinies too. An attempt for one ethnic group to harm the other will result in serious harm for the two. It is as implicating as that.
Since the presidential elections, keenly contested by different candidates from different ethnic groups in Nigeria, some people have desperately sought to reduce the entire development to an ethnic affair. It is myopic and at once condescending. Does Peter Obi represent the Igbo? Does Bola Tinubu represent the Yoruba? Does Atiku Abubakar represent the Hausa/Fulani? These candidates all have supporters across the country. Of course, they will have a preponderance of support from their ethnic base. That is the way of politics. Unfortunately, ethnic jingoists have, in the inerrancy of their bleak convictions, reduced the entire political discourse to an ethnic affair especially Yoruba vs Igbo. These people, stranded in the realm of ethnic hate and communal intolerance, have done everything within their powers to inflame ethnic tension to crucible dimensions. It is wrong for anyone to insult a whole ethnic group in whatever guise. In Chief Iwuanyanwu’s case, he has put the records straight by clarifying what he meant, insisting that he was quoted out of context. But the morbid and decadent will not hear of it. They insist that Iwuanyanwu and all Igbo should be roasted alive. As far as these simpletons are concerned, the Chief spoke the mind of all Igbos. How idiotic and harebrained can anybody be?
Recently, some people have also indulged in ethnic slurs. Unlike Chief Iwuanyanwu that clarified himself, Bayo Onanuga offered no apology and insisted on standing by his words. Onanuga spoke for himself and couldn’t have insulted the Igbo on behalf of the Yoruba. MC Oluomo, while registering his socio-political disorientation, spoke for himself when he threatened the Igbo on an election day and went on to make good his threat which the police shamelessly called a joke. FFK has also made inflammatory remarks which were his personal opinion and not the opinion of Yoruba. It is therefore, a function of disabled, primitive awareness for anyone to insult an ethnic group based on the comment of one person. Such insults and abuses expose the quiddity of phenomenal foolishness which, hitherto, was concealed in some people by the façade of education. No, these hate mongers belong to the stone age. Nobody should be deceived by their pretentious liberalism.
The question is, are there political rascals in Nigeria? Definitely yes! These are the particular people Chief Iwuanyanwu referred to concerning what happened in Lagos during the last elections. Of course, all parts of the country have their share of political rascals. It is not peculiar to one ethnicity. Political rascals are those who walk the streets, snatch ballot boxes, stab people due to their ethnic origin and prevent them from exercising their civic rights. They are not educated. They are thugs, street urchins and never-do-wells employed by politicians to advance nefarious objectives. There are also some educated political rascals. They don’t walk the streets, but demonstrate humane deficiency of unimaginable proportions using social media and sundry news outlets. They spread hate, provoke enmity and fan the embers of war. They incite the uneducated, urging them to bay for the blood of ordinary citizens. Their social media handles are replete with expletives and insults. Abusive engagement allows them to flourish. Another category of political rascals populate government establishments like INEC, the Police and different security agencies. These people compromise the electoral process in exchange for financial inducement and material gains. They are unconscionable, desperate and invidious. Are these people from another planet? No, they are among us. We know them.
The ethnic hate narrative is a device enunciated by the political class to keep the people divided, breaking their rank and file to unite and fight a common enemy. The opposition LP and PDP are convinced that the election was marred by sharp, underhand practices and therefore have gone to court. Is going to court to challenge the outcome of an election a legitimate practice? If it is, why can’t detractors of equitable process allow the law to run smoothly? The call by some decidedly frustrated fellows in search of relevance and pecuniary patronage for the arrest of the opposition presidential candidates is from the pit of purgatory. The propaganda that there is a plan to disrupt the handover ceremony is a bundle of falsehood from the depths of Hades. Although many Nigerians regard the judiciary with a pinch of salt, people of goodwill should advocate for a peaceful resolution of Nigeria’s political challenges. Ethnic rhetoric should stop immediately. People should sheath their swords. Let us all close the road to Rwanda.
Adiele, PhD, writes from Mountain Top University.
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