By Owei Lakemfa
THERE have been claims and counter-claims over the years of alleged moves to Islamise the country. Ironically, some Muslims in the Western part of the country also believe this. The rise of Boko Haram when it initially turned churches into ruins was seen as proof. But soon, it became clear that the Boko Haram terrorists were out to destroy all churches and mosques that do not belong to them. They attacked, kidnapped and killed those who do not belong to them whether Christian or Muslim. Then, even those who loudly wailed the war against Boko Haram was a guise to wipe out Muslims, joined in the war in Nigeria.
Another ‘proof’ of Islamisation came in the wake of renewed battles between alleged herdsmen and pastoralists, especially in the Benue Valley. One main action or inaction of the Muhammadu Buhari administration that gave credence to this is its reluctance to send in the military to flush out those that have seized and occupied villages and towns of pastoralists, especially in Benue and Plateau states. But sooner or later, those who appear to be the godfathers of these marauders may soon turn to fight them as these so-called ‘herders-farmers’ clashes have transformed into outright banditry in states like Zamfara and Sokoto.
But nowhere is this more pronounced than in Katsina State where the bandits have become a conscious army taking towns and forcing the government to negotiate with them and engage in an exchange of bandit-prisoners for kidnapped citizens. In other words, like in the North-East, the monopoly of violence by the state is being challenged.
Those who accuse the Buhari administration of attempts to Islamise the country also point to the unconstitutional stashing of the heads of all but two security agencies with personnel from one part of the country.
As if this was not enough, the administration also introduced the Rural Grazing Area, RUGA, gambit for which lands were secured or taken and extra-budgetary funds sourced. The media on May 21, 2019, quoted then Agriculture Minister, Audu Ogbeh thus: “Just 10 days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a programme called the RUGA settlement. We are going to build settlements where herders will live, grow their cattle and produce milk.”
There was an uproar that RUGA was an attempt to seize indigenous lands for Fulanis and Islamise the country. The government made incoherent statements. It was like a person caught cuddling in his robes, the missing calf of a neighbour. It denied ownership of RUGA and then moved on to what seems like Plan B: a National Livestock Transformation Plan.
In the past few years, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has repeatedly cried out that claims of alleged plans to Islamise the country are false. But now the government has come out to acknowledge that the claims are true. It, however, claimed that the initiator is not President Buhari as alleged, but Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria who, it claims, is colluding with Iran to plot a revolution and forcefully turn the country into an Islamic Shiite state.
As there is crisis amongst the Muslim faithful so are there with their Christian compatriots. One seemingly unending one is the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA, whose leadership took on other Pentecostals over allegations that it’s founding pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo, raped Mrs Busola Dakolo. The Christian Church is not waiting for either for a man or God to be the judge. It chose to be the judge in its own case and its predictable conclusion is that Fatoyinbo is innocent of all charges.
It ruled that he is merely the victim of a “satanic campaign of calumny… fueled by envy and sheer jealousy …as well as a declaration of war against the Church of Christ to which COZA is a flourishing branch under God’s grace”. As usual in such cases, Satan is the fall guy. Perhaps sensing that its judgement will not be the last word, COZA appealed to the Supreme Judge expressing confidence that “our faithful and unfailing God will vindicate him very soon”.
As Fatoyinbo is stewing in his controversy, his fellow prophet, Tunde Bakare, the Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly is basking in the current rerun of his February 18, 2018 boast that God has told him he would succeed Buhari as President of Nigeria. His Goliath-like boast has gone viral: “Take it to the mountain top, if you have never heard it before, I am saying it to you this morning in the scheme of things as far as politics of Nigeria is concerned, President Muhammadu Buhari is Number 15 and yours sincerely I am Number 16.
“I have never said that to you before, I have never said that to you before, I make it plain to you this morning, I let you know it this morning, nothing can change it in the name of Jesus; he is Number 15, and I am Number 16. To this end I was born, for this purpose came I into the world. I have prepared you for this purpose for more than 30 years. That is why if he (Buhari) wants to run in 2019, I do not oppose, he is still number 15. It is when he steps out, that I step in. His assignment is that of Moses to take Nigeria to River Jordan but he can’t cross it. It will take Joshua to go to the other side and begin to distribute resources for the people of this nation.”
If a politician proclaims that he was born purposely to be President of Nigeria, who am I, a mere sinner to say it is a lie? Even if historically and in truth, we know Buhari was no Moses that took us out of the land of Egypt and across the Red Sea towards the Promised Land, who am I to say Pastor Bakare is once again lying?
He had on January 1, 2018 during his Watch Night Prophetic proclamations on what would happen that year, claimed God had instructed him to run for the Presidency: “In my study around 4 am on Sunday morning, God told me: ‘You cannot bring your political career to a close; there is still more to do. Run for the Presidency. I will do it at the appointed time.’” He added: “Joseph (in the Bible) did not contest an election, yet he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Why must I worry myself about where to get the resources for the task?”
I would have advised Bakare to save us the noise of his proclamations, but Nigeria is a country of ‘anything goes’. So I fear Bakare may one day become President and I will be retroactively accused of insulting the President and charged with a treasonable felony.