By Casmir Igbokwe
I have been laughing since last Wednesday. The source of this comic relief is the unveiling of the vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Alhaji Kashim Shettima, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja. Some bunch of ‘upcoming bishops’ were the butt of this comedy of manners. As the allegedly hired clerics filed into the hall in their laughable cassocks, the crowd reportedly taunted them shouting, “the bishops are here.”
Recall that former Lagos State governor and presidential candidate of the APC, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had selected Shettima, a former Borno State Governor, as his running mate in the 2023 presidential election. This went against the warning of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that it would not accept a Muslim-Muslim ticket from any political party in the upcoming election. The action infuriated many Christians who wondered if there was no competent Christian in the whole of northern Nigeria to be a vice-presidential candidate.
Some influential members of the ruling party began to resign to press home their displeasure with this Muslim-Muslim ticket. A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, captured the mood of Christians when he described the APC’s action as disastrous error and satanic. “It appears that the gods want to destroy the APC and its presidential candidate and have chosen the instrumentality of the northern Muslim governors and their super ambitious tool and Kashim Shettima for this purpose,” Lawal fumed.
Apparently out of desperation, some APC sympathizers had engaged in some self-deceit in the media. We started hearing of fake endorsements by some popular Christian clerics. For instance, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, was said to have met and endorsed Tinubu. The RCCG authority promptly denied this, saying Adeboye was under the authority of CAN and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and would not speak for Christians on issues concerning policies.
Also, CAN denied the ‘bishops’ at the unveiling ceremony, saying they were not its members. The Vice-President of CAN in northern states and Abuja, Rev. Joseph John Hayab, said Tinubu was free to hire mechanics and other artisans and sew clerical garments for them, but that it would not change the need for fairness and justice that CAN was calling for.
The Tinubu’s Campaign Organisation (TCO) did not find the whole saga funny. In a statement by the Director, Media and Communication, Bayo Onanuga, the TCO said “those clergymen were not fake, not mechanics or yam sellers as the purveyors of hatred have made Nigerians to believe in the social media. They are not big names in Christendom yet, they are gradually building up their missions.”
Quite interesting! It is pertinent to note that for one to attain the level of a bishop, one must have gone through different cadres of priesthood. In other words, being a bishop is one of the highest levels a priest can attain and such a position cannot be for those just building up their missions. You don’t just wake up and become a bishop.
To also show that these bishops are fake, some of them wore garments such as chasuble, which every serious Catholic knows, is worn only during celebration of the Eucharist. To crown it all, some mischief makers followed the bishops to a corner where they allegedly shared some money. One of them, Joseph Odaudu, reportedly fumed that he was shortchanged; that instead of N100,000 which the organizers promised them, he ended up getting N40,000. Very shameful!
You see why we need a revolution in this country. Look at Sri Lanka. That country is gradually recovering from the incidents of the past few days where the masses revolted and chased away the country’s President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Sri Lankans said enough was enough to the economic woes that have crippled the country and decided to take their destiny into their hands. Rajapaksa did not only flee abroad, he resigned from his exalted position.
A near similar thing happened in Tunisia in December 2010. A 26-year-old street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, had set himself ablaze in protest over the way local officials treated him. What followed was referred to as the Tunisian uprising or Jasmine Revolution. It led to the forced exit of the then President, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, from office. The same scenario, later christened Arab Spring, occurred in many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Nigerian Spring is also coming. It will not be in form of a revolt like it happened in Sri Lanka. It will not come by way of protests. The revolution will be in the ballot boxes in 2023. Many Nigerians are tired of the old order where some old and greedy politicians ride roughshod over them with impunity. Behind the façade of their claim that it is their turn lies a sinister intention to continue in the business of plundering the resources of the country. Today, our youths want to take back their country. They are saying, ‘enough is enough’. On their own, they have taken up the challenge to push for a candidate who will better the lots of Nigerians from 2023. Without mincing words, that candidate is the Labour Party (LP) presidential standard-bearer, Mr. Peter Obi.
The former Anambra State Governor marked his 61st birthday last Tuesday. The outpouring of love from across the country was unprecedented. It became the number one trending issue in the social media. The man also became the most searched topic on Google in the first half of 2022.
Already, some other candidates are losing sleep. They are trying hard to de-market him and paint him as someone who is not what he has been presented to be. The fact is that Obi is not a saint. He has not claimed to be one. He is a human being prone to fall into certain temptations like every other human being. But among the cacophony of the candidates jostling to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, he is the best. I don’t need to bore you with his pedigree and achievements which I have done in some previous articles.
All I can say for now is that Nigerians should brace up for a disruptive change in 2023. I am already feeling it. If you have not started having a feel of it, then you must be one of those who still believe in the patronage system; who believe, like Tinubu’s upcoming bishops, that we have to sell our birthright for a plate of porridge.