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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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Strictly Personal

Air Peace, capitalism and national interest, By Dakuku Peterside

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Nigerian corporate influence and that of the West continue to collide. The rationale is straightforward: whereas corporate activity in Europe and America is part of their larger local and foreign policy engagement, privately owned enterprises in Nigeria or commercial interests are not part of Nigeria’s foreign policy ecosystem, neither is there a strong culture of government support for privately owned enterprises’ expansion locally and internationally.

The relationship between Nigerian businesses and foreign policy is important to the national interest. When backing domestic Nigerian companies to compete on a worldwide scale, the government should see it as a lever to drive foreign policy, and national strategic interest, promote trade, enhance national security considerations, and minimize distortion in the domestic market as the foreign airlines were doing, boost GDP, create employment opportunities, and optimize corporate returns for the firms.

Admitted nations do not always interfere directly in their companies’ business and commercial dealings, and there are always exceptions. I can cite two areas of exception: military sales by companies because of their strategic implications and are, therefore, part of foreign and diplomatic policy and processes. The second is where the products or routes of a company have implications for foreign policy. Air Peace falls into the second category in the Lagos – London route.

Two events demonstrate an emerging trend that, if not checked, will disincentivize Nigerian firms from competing in the global marketplace. There are other notable examples, but I am using these two examples because they are very recent and ongoing, and they are typological representations of the need for Nigerian government backing and support for local companies that are playing in a very competitive international market dominated by big foreign companies whose governments are using all forms of foreign policies and diplomacy to support and sustain.

The first is Air Peace. It is the only Nigerian-owned aviation company playing globally and checkmating the dominance of foreign airlines. The most recent advance is the commencement of flights on the Lagos – London route. In Nigeria, foreign airlines are well-established and accustomed to a lack of rivalry, yet a free-market economy depends on the existence of competition. Nigeria has significantly larger airline profits per passenger than other comparable African nations. Insufficient competition has resulted in high ticket costs and poor service quality. It is precisely this jinx that Air Peace is attempting to break.

On March 30, 2024, Air Peace reciprocated the lopsided Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA, between Nigeria and the United Kingdom when the local airline began direct flight operations from Lagos to Gatwick Airport in London. This elicited several reactions from foreign airlines backed by their various sovereigns because of their strategic interest. A critical response is the commencement of a price war. Before the Air Peace entry, the price of international flight tickets on the Lagos-London route had soared to as much as N3.5 million for the  economy ticket. However, after Air Peace introduced a return economy class ticket priced at N1.2 million, foreign carriers like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways reduced their fares significantly to remain competitive.

In a price war, there is little the government can do. In an open-market competitive situation such as this, our government must not act in a manner that suggests it is antagonistic to foreign players and competitors. There must be an appearance of a level playing field. However, government owes Air Peace protection against foreign competitors backed by their home governments. This is in the overall interest of the Nigerian consumer of goods and services. Competition history in the airspace works where the Consumer Protection Authority in the host country is active. This is almost absent in Nigeria and it is a reason why foreign airlines have been arbitrary in pricing their tickets. Nigerian consumers are often at the mercy of these foreign firms who lack any vista of patriotism and are more inclined to protect the national interest of their governments and countries.

It would not be too much to expect Nigerian companies playing globally to benefit from the protection of the Nigerian government to limit influence peddling by foreign-owned companies. The success of Air Peace should enable a more competitive and sustainable market, allowing domestic players to grow their network and propel Nigeria to the forefront of international aviation.

The second is Proforce, a Nigerian-owned military hardware manufacturing firm active in Rwanda, Chad, Mali, Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso, and South Sudan. Despite the growing capacity of Proforce in military hardware manufacturing, Nigeria entered two lopsided arrangements with two UAE firms to supply military equipment worth billions of dollars , respectively. Both deals are backed by the UAE government but executed by UAE firms.

These deals on a more extensive web are not unconnected with UAE’s national strategic interest. In pursuit of its strategic national interest, India is pushing Indian firms to supply military equipment to Nigeria. The Nigerian defence equipment market has seen weaker indigenous competitors driven out due to the combination of local manufacturers’ lack of competitive capacity and government patronage of Asian, European, and US firms in the defence equipment manufacturing sector. This is a misnomer and needs to be corrected.

Not only should our government be the primary customer of this firm if its products meet international standards, but it should also support and protect it from the harsh competitive realities of a challenging but strategic market directly linked to our national military procurement ecosystem. The ability to produce military hardware locally is significant to our defence strategy.

This firm and similar companies playing in this strategic defence area must be considered strategic and have a considerable place in Nigeria’s foreign policy calculations. Protecting Nigeria’s interests is the primary reason for our engagement in global diplomacy. The government must deliberately balance national interest with capacity and competence in military hardware purchases. It will not be too much to ask these foreign firms to partner with local companies so we can embed the technology transfer advantages.

Our government must create an environment that enables our local companies to compete globally and ply their trades in various countries. It should be part of the government’s overall economic, strategic growth agenda to identify areas or sectors in which Nigerian companies have a competitive advantage, especially in the sub-region and across Africa and support the companies in these sectors to advance and grow to dominate in  the African region with a view to competing globally. Government support in the form of incentives such as competitive grants ,tax credit for consumers ,low-interest capital, patronage, G2G business, operational support, and diplomatic lobbying, amongst others, will alter the competitive landscape. Governments  and key government agencies in the west retain the services of lobbying firms in pursuit of its strategic interest.

Nigerian firms’ competitiveness on a global scale can only be enhanced by the support of the Nigerian government. Foreign policy interests should be a key driver of Nigerian trade agreements. How does the Nigerian government support private companies to grow and compete globally? Is it intentionally mapping out growth areas and creating opportunities for Nigerian firms to maximize their potential? Is the government at the domestic level removing bottlenecks and impediments to private company growth, allowing a level playing field for these companies to compete with international companies?

Why is the government patronising foreign firms against local firms if their products are of similar value? Why are Nigerian consumers left to the hands of international companies in some sectors without the government actively supporting the growth of local firms to compete in those sectors? These questions merit honest answers. Nigerian national interest must be the driving factor for our foreign policies, which must cover the private sector, just as is the case with most developed countries. The new global capitalism is not a product of accident or chance; the government has choreographed and shaped it by using foreign policies to support and protect local firms competing globally. Nigeria must learn to do the same to build a strong economy with more jobs.

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Strictly Personal

This is chaos, not governance, and we must stop it, By Tee Ngugi

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The following are stories that have dominated mainstream media in recent times. Fake fertiliser and attempts by powerful politicians to kill the story. A nation of bribes, government ministries and corporations where the vice is so routine that it has the semblance of policy. Irregular spending of billions in Nairobi County.

 

Billions are spent in all countries on domestic and foreign travel. Grabbing of land belonging to state corporations, was a scam reminiscent of the Kanu era when even public toilets would be grabbed. Crisis in the health and education sectors.

 

Tribalism in hiring for state jobs. Return of construction in riparian lands and natural waterways. Relocation of major businesses because of high cost of power and heavy taxation. A tax regime that is so punitive, it squeezes life out of small businesses. Etc, ad nauseam.

 

To be fair, these stories of thievery, mismanagement, negligence, incompetence and greed have been present in all administrations since independence.

 

However, instead of the cynically-named “mama mboga” government reversing this gradual slide towards state failure, it is fuelling it.

 

Alternately, it’s campaigning for 2027 or gallivanting all over the world, evoking the legend of Emperor Nero playing the violin as Rome burned.

 

A government is run based on strict adherence to policies and laws. It appoints the most competent personnel, irrespective of tribe, to run efficient departments which have clear-cut goals.

 

It aligns education to its national vision. Its strategies to achieve food security should be driven by the best brains and guided by innovative policies. It enacts policies that attract investment and incentivize building of businesses. It treats any kind of thievery or negligence as sabotage.

 

Government is not a political party. Government officials should have nothing to do with political party matters. They should be so engaged in their government duties that they literally would not have time for party issues. Government jobs should not be used to reward girlfriends and cronies.

 

Government is exhausting work undertaken because of a passion to transform lives, not for the trappings of power. Government is not endless campaigning to win the next election. To his credit, Mwai Kibaki left party matters alone until he had to run for re-election.

 

We have corrupted the meaning of government. We have parliamentarians beholden to their tribes, not to ideas.

 

We have incompetent and corrupt judges. We have a civil service where you bribe to be served. Police take bribes to allow death traps on our roads. We have urban planners who plan nothing except how to line their pockets. We have regulatory agencies that regulate nothing, including the intake of their fat stomachs.

 

We have advisers who advise on which tenders should go to whom. There is no central organising ethos at the heart of government. There is no sense of national purpose. We have flurries of national activities, policies, legislation, appointments which don’t lead to meaningful growth. We just run on the same spot.

 

Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator

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