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10 Reasons Osinbajo will ignite a religious civil war by Farooq Kperogi

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A Yemi Osinbajo presidency would, without a doubt, plunge Nigeria into the depths of a smoldering religious volcano that will hasten its self-immolation. This isn’t some idly churlish oracular indulgence. It’s based on an intimate familiarity with Osinbajo’s trajectory of religious bigotry, overpowering anti-Muslim prejudice, and irrevocable devotion to the materialization of a Pentecostal, specifically RCCG, capture of the Nigerian state. Here’re 10 reasons for my fears:
1. The RCCG memo that asked churches to actively support its members vying for political offices was inspired by Osinbajo and is consistent with his history of exclusivist religious politics. In 2013, for example, he formed the Christian Conscience Group—along with Enoch Ajiboso, Dele Sobowale, and Most Reverend Joseph Ajayi—to champion the cause of a Christian governor of Lagos State.
According to a September 27, 2013, Daily Post news report titled “It’s time for a Christian to govern Lagos – Group,” the group was led by “former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos, who is also a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Professor Yemi Osibajo.”
Just like he has masterminded the religionization of the politics of 2023, in 2013, Osinbajo delivered a lecture titled “Christianity, Politics, Now and Beyond” that instigated Christians to deploy Christian religious blackmail to force Tinubu to endorse a Christian governor for Lagos in 2015—in a part of Nigeria that deafens the rest of the country with the tiresomely sterile mantra that “religion doesn’t matter in Yorubaland.”
2. Osinbajo’s advocacy for a Christian governor in Lagos wasn’t inspired by any desire for religious pluralism. A Muslim has never been elected governor in Ondo and Ekiti states. In Ogun State, his natal state, Ibikunle Amosun is the only Muslim governor the state has elected since 1979, even though Muslims are at least 50 percent of the state’s population. Osinbajo is fine with that.
3. The strategy Osinbajo used to incite religious fervor in Lagos prior to 2015 is the precise strategy he’s using now. The RCCG memo is just a small part of a bigger religious incitement strategy.
On Nov. 5, 2021, for example, the Guardian reported Bishop Wale Oke, President Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), of which Osinbajo is a pivotal member, to have said, “We do not want another Muslim president come 2023.”
In another Feb. 12, 2022, interview with the Guardian, Oke said, “Not only should the South produce the next President, the next president ought to be a Christian, not a Muslim. This is very important.”
And in a Feb. 20, 2022, lecture in Jos, according to the Sun, CAN president Rev. Samson Ayokunle said Christians must unite to elect a Christian president. He said this during a lecture disturbingly titled “Defeating Your Enemies through the Power of Unity,” which creates the impression in the minds of his Christian audience that Muslims are “enemies” of Christians who must be defeated in 2023.
“In the last election, [Buhari] had about 14 million votes and that is not more than a population of two denominations in Nigeria talk more of [sic] the entire Christian body,” the CAN president said during the lecture. “If we are united, I can see rightly in the spirit, God knows the person and we by the mind of the spirit, we can know the person God want [sic] to use. We have leadership in CAN, and if we listen to the leadership, it will be well with us.”
4. Osinbajo is a suave, charming but toxic Islamophobic bigot who clothes his bigotry with oratory. He is only associating with Muslims because of his political agenda. He visits mosques (with his shoes on— in a betrayal of his ice-cold disdain for the religion) and awkwardly utters salaams only as a stoop-to-conquer strategy.
Osinbajo’s overt Christianization of the 2023 election has already caused the normally secular Bola Tinubu to, on March 19, appeal to the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria in Osogbo to create a political wing to support Muslims running for political offices because “Other religious groups have commenced political sensitisation by creating political departments or directorate among themselves to promote their own.”
You see what I’m talking about? That’s a first in the Southwest. The stigma of being labeled a “Muslim fundamentalist,” a favorite, overused rhetorical cudgel used to silence Yoruba Muslims, used impel Yoruba Muslims to grin and bear their suppression.
Osinbajo’s overt bigotry is blunting that. Imagine what will happen in the Muslim North should Osinbajo by any chance become president.
5. Osinbajo sees Muslims not as fellow citizens who practice a different faith but as lost souls in need of salvation. If they can’t be salvaged, they should be inferiorized, victimized, and excluded.
For instance, on Feb. 22, 2020, according to the Sunshine Truth, an Ondo State newspaper, during the funeral of the mother of former Ondo State governor Olusegun Mimiko, Osinbajo intentionally went out of his way to hurt the sensibilities of Yoruba Muslims when he gloated that the woman, identified as Mama Muinat Mosekonla Mimiko, left Islam for Christianity toward the end of her life,
This was a touchy subject because although Mama Muinat’s two children—former Gov. Olusegun Rahman Mimiko and Prof. Femi Nazheem Mimiko— converted to Christianity, she’d resisted pressures to leave Islam. She had been sustained in her Muslim faith by her US-based third son, Abbas Mimiko.
Many Yoruba Muslims who’d hoped that she’d continue to be steadfast in her Muslim faith in spite of immense pressure to leave it felt gratuitously mocked by Osinbajo when he crowed with perverse joy over her late-life conversion to Christianity.
 If Osinbajo was just a pastor, that wouldn’t be out of line. In fact, it would be perfectly legitimate. But when you’re president or vice president, you wield enormous symbolic and cultural power. When you use that power in the service of divisive religious politics, you inflame raw passions that can provoke communal convulsions.
Imagine Atiku Abubakar attending the funeral of a late-life Muslim convert in Adamawa State (which has a vast indigenous Christian population) and gloating over the person’s conversion from Christianity to Islam.
6. Yoruba Muslims say there’s a “standing rule” in Osinbajo’s law firm, Simmons Cooper Partners, that the employment of Muslims there must be regulated, which has ensured that “99%” of people who work there are Christians.
In fact, someone confided in me that Osinbajo once asked an employee at his law firm with a Muslim last name, who’s actually a Christian, if he thought about how his name might “work against” him, subtly encouraging him to change it.
7. Political Pentecostals want Osinbajo to be president so they can say that the prophecy of Pastor Enoch Adeboye that one of them would become a president in his lifetime has come to pass, which would then be used as a recruiting tool, particularly in Yorubaland.
But this is a dangerous game because it will inspire a sustained pushback from other Christian sects and from the Muslim North. When Saudi-trained Muslim clerics start to run for elective offices as a strategy to counter political Pentecostals and to also swell their ranks, a religious civil war would be a question of “when,” not “if.”
8. Osinbajo’s religious bigotry and Pentecostal Christian particularism aren’t anything we have ever seen in Nigeria before. Most politicians exploit religion to gain political power, but Osinbajo wants to exploit political power to advance a narrow, divisive religious agenda. That’s a big difference, and it’s a potentially destabilizing difference.
Osinbajo isn’t the only religious bigot in high office in Nigeria. I spent the last seven years calling out the religious bigotry of fellow northern Muslims, including calling out the northern Nigerian Muslim clerical establishment for being in bed with the Buhari regime, at the expense of my ostracism not just in my region but even in my hometown where Imams recited maledictions against me, but Osinbajo’s is in a world of its own.
9. In a previous article, I called Osinbajo a “matchbox” that a collision with a Muslim matchstick would cause to ignite a religious conflagration. He’s actually worse than that. He’s a flame. Like flames, he is rhetorically attractive, and the politically naïve like to hover around him like moths to flames, which end up burning them alive.
In a Nov. 10, 2019, column titled “The trials of Brother Osinbajo,” Nigerian Tribune columnist Festus Adedayo revealed that while Buhari was sick and away in London, Osinbajo attended a Redeemed Christian Church of God prayer session in his home state of Ogun where the pastor prayed for Buhari to die so that Osinbajo would take over as president “with the VP shouting [a] thunderous ‘Amen’.”
Osinbajo was so rattled by this revelation that he urged his media aide to frantically issue an incoherent, unconvincing denial. Otto von Bismarck is often credited with saying, “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.” Incidentally, just last week, a Southwest friend confirmed to me the authenticity of this incident.
10. Although he is married to Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s granddaughter and even shares the same hometown as him, Osinbajo doesn’t share the late sage’s wisdom that politics and religion shouldn’t be merged.
In a perceptive January 27, 1961, lecture titled “Politics and Religion,” Chief Awolowo advised against the religionization of politics and the politicization of religion. “A religious organization should never allow itself to be regarded as the mouthpiece and instrument of the powers-that-be,” he said. “If it did, it would sink or swim with the government concerned…and would no longer be well-placed to tell the truth as it knows it.”
After 2023, let Osinbajo retire to the church. He has no business being the president of a complex, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic country like Nigeria.
Osinbajo’s anti-Muslim bigotry is surprising because, politically, he rode on the coattails of Muslims to get to where he is today. Prince Bola Ajibola, a devout Muslim who established one of Nigeria’s first Islamic universities, gave him his first political break when he appointed him as his Legal Adviser when he was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation during the IBB regime. He again took Osinbajo along to the International Court of Justice.
Osinbajo’s next major consequential appointment was his choice as Lagos State’s Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General. He was given that job by Bola Ahmed Tinubu whom he is now fighting using Christianity as a dagger.
Tinubu introduced Osinbajo to Buhari whose opportunistic love for pastors to help dim his image as a Muslim fanatic caused him to pick him as Vice President.
So, beneath his harmless, debonair, smooth-talking exterior, Osinbajo is a vile, hateful, intolerant, inveterate, and treacherous religious bigot who will incite a religious civil war if he becomes president.
Religious civil wars are messy and dangerous. Few countries survive them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!k

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Water Management: Morocco’s greatest threat or opportunity? By Jasper Hamann

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Morocco has its work cut out for itself when it comes to water management. While the country is rich in innovative agricultural thinking and houses high-tech institutes and is one of the world’s largest fertilizer producers, many of the country’s farmers continue to depend primarily on rainfall to supply water for agricultural production.

Morocco’s future outlook could be dire if it does not heed warnings about the ever-escalating climate crisis. As the world continues to output massive amounts of carbon and methane, droughts and extreme weather are increasingly becoming a part of daily life.

An Evolving Crisis

The last few years have aptly shown the destructive nature of the climate crisis, as Morocco has faced its worst drought in nearly half a century. While droughts were already common in the North African country, occurring on average every three years, the current trend shows that things are only going to get worse.

The UN’s sustainable development division has pointed to Morocco’s water scarcity as the  “main constraint on expansion” for its vital agricultural sector. While Morocco can have little impact on the evolution of the global climate crisis, local academics, businesses, and government are attempting to step up, and help the country prepare for what is to come.

Government Response

As one of Morocco’s top officials on this dossier, Minister of Equipment and Water Nizar Baraka in May pointed out that Morocco is set to lose 30% of its current water resources by 2050. Baraka has called for the need for the country to invest in water efficiency, and emphasized the need for “hydro-diplomacy,” to establish solid international agreements to prevent future water resources from dwindling water supplies.

Meanwhile, the government is mustering its financial resources to aim to protect Morocco’s water supply, while making satellite data available to better manage the country’s outdated irrigation networks.

In January, the cabinet allocated $260 million for its 2021-2022 water emergency plan, yet such amounts can only provide minor temporary solutions. The country’s Court of Auditors recognized this fact in a report in March, calling for massive structural funding to update irrigation, limit water waste, and protect domestic water resources.

 

 

Funding Solutions

But billions are needed to increase, not just protect, Morocco’s water supply. Minister Baraka recognizes this and has pointed to Morocco’s expansive coastline as a possible asset where futuristic desalination plants would help convert seawater into potable water resources.

Whether desalination will be a viable option for all of Morocco remains to be seen, as experts say this prospect depends on the cost to construct the plants, creating the (sustainable) energy needed to run them, and finding solutions for its waste product, brine.

As is common with Moroccan public projects, the country is not thinking small. Instead, it is constructing the world’s largest desalination plant in Casablanca, the success of which is likely to determine whether Morocco will repeat this strategy elsewhere.

Thought leaders

“Managing water is like managing your bank account,” Dr. Abdelghani Chehbouni, Professor at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), recently told MWN.

The professor is part of several key innovators and thought-leaders working to address Morocco’s growing water crisis. Solutions vary from simple low-tech changes, such as moving towards drip irrigation in Moroccan agriculture, to the ultra-high-tech ideas coming from the country’s foremost knowledge institutes.

UM6P, the country’s top research institute in this area, is building on the potential of AI machine learning, drones, and other innovative technology through its dedicated research institute, the International Water Research Institute (IWRI).

Similarly, the country’s largest company, fertilizer and phosphate giant OCP Group is counting on technology to provide solutions to the growing problem facing Morocco and the rest of the world.

Private Sector

For its own operations, OCP has introduced one of the most far-reaching water conservation initiatives of any large corporation worldwide, aiming to exclusively use non-conventional water sources within a decade while already recycling much of its own water needs. “We’ll use zero fresh water by 2028,” the company has vowed.

OCP’s ambitions go far beyond its own operations, however, as the fertilizer company is investing heavily in domestic and continental initiatives to combat water stress while contributing to major international fora on the topic.

At the 2022 International Water Association’s Forum for Industrial Water Users this past Friday, OCP presented their most recent effort, an e-book to promote sustainable water use for industry.

In many ways, OCP Group’s operations present a microcosm of African water issues. Phosphate mining, transportation, and fertilizer production are water-intensive processes that mirror the growing need for water resources in Africa’s growing industrial sector and agriculture.

OCP’s approach however presents a sense of hope, as it is already applying some of the methods that governments across Africa are likely to depend on in the future.

Future African and Moroccan solutions can already be found in OCP’s current strategy of far-reaching water conservation, intensive use of desalination, and water treatment while generating much of the energy for these processes in a sustainable manner.

As Morocco, Africa, and the rest of the world scramble for solutions to growing water scarcity, Morocco’s efforts are increasingly tailored toward turning a threat into an opportunity and presenting an optimistic technology-driven vision for a sustainable future in an evolving global climate context.

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EAC presidents retire young, keep them busy and tap their knowledge by Charles Onyango-Obbo

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On Tuesday, former Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta handed power to his former deputy, William Ruto, at a colourful ceremony in Nairobi. Uhuru fell out with his deputy in 2018 and didn’t back him in the August 9 elections that Ruto won, allying with former prime minister and rival Raila Odinga instead.

Kenyatta was nevertheless gracious, showing up and doing his duty with a smile, and sitting expressionless through some awkward moments as new Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, standing a few feet from him, shredded his record.

And off he went.

It was easy to miss one little significance of his exit.

At 60 years of age, Kenyatta was the youngest president to step down in Kenya. Both Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki retired just as their walking sticks beckoned.

Relative youthful retirement is a growing East African Community trend. Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila set the record in 2019 when he left the presidential palace at 49, remarkable considering that he in power for 18 years.

Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza, who died in June 2020, a few weeks before he was to step down following elections, was also younger than Uhuru, at 56 years.

In Somalia, a likely future EAC member, former president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (also known as Farmaajo), was sent packing at the age of 60, following elections in May after he was defeated by former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Previously, the youngest regular retirement in the EAC — that is, the big man is not chased by mutinous soldiers, rebels emerged from the bush, or angry street protestors — was by Julius Nyerere in Tanzania in 1985 at 64. Hard to believe for a man who left such a huge footprint on his country, Africa, and the world.

The World Health Organisation said in a recent report that life expectancy in Africa had increased by an average 10 years between 2000 and 2019.

The median age of death in Africa in 2000 was 46. By 2019 it was 56. WHO noted that while 56 was lower than the global life expectancy of 64, the 10-year increase was far higher than the overall global increase of five years.

This means by retiring today, well-fed and sufficiently medicated leaders who were on a trajectory to live much longer than the masses, anyway, could be around longer than the previous class.

If we count the leaders who stepped down and weren’t hounded off State House, Nyerere died in 1999 at 79. Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki died in April last year at 90. His predecessor, Moi, died in February 2020 at 95. There is something in Kenya’s soil. Their average age is 88. We add at least 10 years to that; then, the recent retirees will live at least 98.

If they don’t fall into depression, their planes don’t fall out of the sky, or their successors don’t hang them in a tragic turn of events, this means Kenyatta will be around until 2060. Kabila will be roaming DR Congo until 2074.

That’s a long time away. Considering that more youthful future leaders will join them, there is a need for a grand East African scheme to harvest their knowledge of statecraft and keep them meaningfully occupied. Any ideas?

Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, writer, and curator of the “Wall of Great Africans”. Twitter@cobbo3

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