The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) once reminded religious leaders of an electoral law that prohibits political campaigning in mosques and churches. This law must come from total ignorance and/or complete detachment from reality. Mainly, there is no separation of religion and politics in Islam. The gathering of worshipers in a mosque is essentially the polity in prayer. The mosque is therefore a true political forum. Inevitably, imams have to preach politics from the dais of the mosque. Second, despite the centuries-old determined attempt to separate religion from politics in Christianity, politics and religion remain inseparable, and pastors need to talk about politics. Moreover, if every Nigerian usually holds political views and can express them through their various media – singers through their songs, writers through their writings, etc. – why aren’t pastors supposed to express their political opinions from the pulpit? Does the pastor’s declaration of his political views from the pulpit amount to political campaigning in the church? And churches sometimes invite personalities, including political figures, and give them the pulpit. What is expected of such political figures with a church audience and a pulpit? Are they supposed to extol the beauty of the outer weather, the splendor of the faithful or the excellence of the center of excellence? No, they will talk about politics: boasting about their political candidacy and their political party and denouncing their political opponents and their political parties. Will this amount to political campaigning, and therefore a violation of the law? Nigeria is in dire straits. It is reeling from criminality, neglect of constitutional responsibilities, irresponsible economic policies, disregard for human lives and ruthless exploitation of the masses by the Buhari administration. The Buhari administration is the current face of an iniquitous oligarchy which, in the service of its selfish, cliquary and diabolical interests, has literally destroyed the country.
In its acquiescence to terrorism and banditry, the Buhari administration ceded control of parts of the country to terrorists and bandits, and allowed Fulani herders to roam the country unchallenged, killing, raping and kidnapping with impunity. His much-vaunted fight against corruption is a colossal farce; official corruption thrives at unprecedented levels. The economy is teetering dangerously on the brink of collapse; poverty has become more pervasive and entrenched, with an increasing percentage of Nigerians trapped in extreme and stark poverty. Horrified by terrorism, banditry and the murderous madness of Fulani herdsmen, frustrated by official irresponsibility, corruption and brutality and torn apart by poverty and hunger, Nigerians vegetate in misery, gloom and discouragement. It is impossible for any sane Nigerian to remain ambivalent or indifferent to the heartbreaking dilemma of the country. Moreover, unlike other professionals, pastors are uniquely empowered as social crusaders because their economic base is not susceptible to governmental and/or corporate sanctions. A government, corporate, or university employee who challenges the status quo can easily be fired from their job. And for having opposed the system, a businessman can see his business interests threatened: contracts and commercial commitments canceled and licenses revoked. Moreover, pastors are armed with the sacred word of God and the inviolable moral and spiritual authority of the pulpit. Unsurprisingly, preachers have played a pivotal role in combating bad leadership, social injustice, and other social ills. In the struggle of black Americans for racial justice, pastors figured prominently: Elijah Mohammed, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, etc. on the Muslim side; and Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, etc., on the Christian side. Nigerian preachers should lead the resistance against this evil oligarchy consumed in its corruption, robbery, anti-human policies, plunder and destruction of the country. Any pastor who is not part of this struggle must feign neutrality in times of great national crisis. It has been written that “the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great crisis, maintain their neutrality”.
The solution to our festering multifaceted problems lies in a complete rejection of this cold-hearted oligarchy in the 2023 presidential election. Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu are inseparable elements of the oligarchy. Atiku Abubakar has shown a disturbing sensitivity to the sensitivities of violent Islamic fundamentalists. He is a Fulani and, like Muhammadu Buhari, he will pander to expansionism and banditry, terrorism and the bloody excesses of the Fulani herdsmen who accompany him in southern and north-central Nigeria. Perplexingly, though Nigerians are fed up with Buharism, Bola Tinubu asserted that his presidency would be a continuation of Buharism. With the devastation that Buharism has wrought in Nigeria, why would any sane individual want to continue with Buharism? This must be due to blind loyalty to the scandalous designs of the oligarchy; senescent disconnection from reality; and the sadism that revels in Nigeria’s growing economic stranglehold.
By: Tochukwu Ezukanma
Ezukanma writes from Lagos.