By Oji Odu
There cannot be a smoke without fire. In a country where Sharia laws are allegedly forced on non Muslim Youth Corpers serving in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo being pressurised by powers that be in high places, who have a firm grip on Nigeria’s government to denounce his faith as a Christian, ‘Born Again and Holy Spirit filled’ and become a Muslim? If so, what do these powers stand to gain by such act instead of seeking better and more progressive ways of repositioning the nation on higher pedestal?
At a stakeholders meeting at Benue State Banquet Hall, Markudi, on Wednesday, some Christian clerics had raised the issue of his assumed lackadaisical attitude towards the incessant herdsmen killings whereby Christian communities are allegedly being overrun and desolated while the people are made displaced. This had increased their fears that the Pastor- Vice President is under pressure to Islamise.
Reacting particularly to the speech by Bishop William Avenya of the Gboko Diocese of the Catholic Church who said God would hold him responsible if he failed to act on the increased herdsmen killings in the zone and others, Osinbajo refuted the allegation, stating that nothing will ever make him to denounce his Christian religion. He also debunked the allegation that the herdsmen killings et cetera are an agenda to Islamise Nigeria.
“As a matter of fact, I’m also a priest and I’m a Christian, a born-again Christian. Because I’m a born-again Christian, my destiny is not determined by any man but by God whom I serve. Let me assure you that under no circumstances, none whatsoever, will I give up my faith or refuse to stand up for my faith. You can take that to the bank.
“Even the position that I currently occupy, I did not ask for it and I’m prepared to leave it at a short notice. It doesn’t mean anything.
“Some people have suggested that there is an agenda; I heard the very eloquent words of Dr. Magdalene Dura who said this is an agenda. The suggestions that have been made that, indeed, there is ethnic cleansing and all of that – but let me say to you that although I do not accept that, but the only way that we can prove that there is indeed no agenda is to protect the people, it’s to fight for justice and to rebuild where there has been destruction.
“That’s the only way to prove it. As I said to you, I do not accept and I do not believe that there is an agenda. No one will deliberately kill his own people. No one will do so. I became a born-again Christian after I became a professor, a professor of the law of evidence, a professor of proof.
“But when the Lord Jesus Christ met me, He persuaded me by showing me clearly that there is such a thing as the evidence of faith that are not seen. It is because of the evidence of things that are not seen, it is because you can make something out of nothing that I stand here today as vice president.
“How possible can anyone say that the killing of women and children doesn’t matter because he is vice president or because he is president? How is that possible? Certainly, it cannot be for a person who is born again. A renewed mind will know that there is justice, there is consequence even if there is no justice here on earth”, he said.
Further, he added: “But we cannot bring back the dead, but we can make life more bearable for the living. This is why coming here today at the behest of the president is first, to look at the situation myself, to get a first-hand view of the situation, because the president has mandated me to take this on board and deal with the issues.
“But we must not be afraid of the truth and history so that we do not arrive at a half solution.If we sound as if this problem started with this administration, then the solutions that we proffer will not last.”
While condoling the Catholic Church on the recent killing of the Priests and worshippers, Osinbajo noted that “It is important for us to know that in order to solve this problem, we must dig deep to the root, otherwise we will find a half solution, people would return to their homes, perhaps there will be peace for another year or two, after a while again it blows out. We must understand that this is a major problem.”
Earlier, in his lamentation, Bishop Avenya cried out: “Mr. Vice President, Benue people are like children without a father, we are in this country as if we are not part of this country.
“Mr. Vice President, try and be a Christian and a committed Christian, do your best to stop these killings and save your name, else, you will have (to bear the) brunt of this issue as one who is not doing anything to stop the crisis.
“Our roads are bad, most times our leaders rush to patch them whenever you are planning to visit us.
“I am not a politician, so I will not paint a bad thing to be good the way other politicians do.”
In her remarks also during the meeting, Dr. (Mrs.) Magdalene Dura pointed out a genocide against the Tiv people, while regretting the poor military presence in the zone.
“There is genocide against the Tiv people across the country, Nigeria has failed Benue.
“Military presence in a troubled area is a right, not a privilege. Those displaced are more (in number) than the ones at the IDPs camps.
“We know our killers, they are Fulani herdsmen, they are Myetti Allah Kautal Hore We have cried but none have been arrested. No justice in Nigeria.
“Leadership has timeline, even if it is 10 years, it will come to an end and leaders shall face their Creator,” she stated.
However, while accusing the Vice President of not doing anything to stop the killings, the question remains: is there anything special the Vice President can do that will help stop the incessant killings, taking cognizance of his position as number two citizen with very small constitutional powers to work with? What do the Priests and other Nigerians backing them want him to do?
In a chat with the Magazine, Felix Ojo, a Human Relations expert said: “ At this time, everybody has the right to express his views and anger. Osinbajo is the Vice President in a country where his position has little or no power to operate. He is advisory and cannot do much.
“ However, in advanced societies which Nigeria is speedily becoming, he cannot just be seen to stand aloof to the killings and always trying to explain things. If he is touched as claimed by the killings, they want him to resign his position, a move that can speed up actions to check the killings. You don’t blame anyone who feels he may be under pressure to dump his religion. Unfortunately, resignation seems not only un-Nigerian, it is un-African.”
Adding, Ojo said that if there may have been plans to Islamise Osinbajo, the interaction with the Christian clerics in Benue would have checked it, even if briefly. Also, the Vice President cannot afford to resign now because of the damage it will do to the unity of Nigeria, bearing in mind the reasons he has given to elicit it.