Still on Nigerians who need deliverance

Casmir Igbokwe

In Nigeria, the easiest way to incur the wrath of some people is to fish in the waters of religion. Once you criticise a religious figure or institution, no matter how sound your argument may be, reason usually gives way to emotions and sentiments. Sometimes, one negative word on religion could snowball into a major crisis that takes the lives of many innocent souls.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo can bear me witness here. For using a figurative language in his recent view that even Jesus Christ would not be able to conduct undisputed elections in Nigeria, he became a target of caustic comments by some Christians. They said he needed deliverance.

Last Sunday, I borrowed this recommended cure for Obasanjo’s hyperbole. But in administering the medicine to those who played ignoble roles in the demise of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua two weeks ago, I unwittingly stepped on a few toes. Some of my readers said I was biased; that I criticised Muslim clerics who visited Yar’Adua but said nothing about the Christian clergy. Some wondered why I should label Saudi Arabia a secluded society. They concluded that I needed deliverance myself.

It is not in my character to respond to abuses or criticisms against my views. But I am compelled in this case to make some clarifications. First, let me quote the reaction of someone I hold in high esteem, the associate editor of TheNEWS Magazine, Tayo Odunlami.

He wrote, “Casmir, I read your piece in last Sunday’s edition and yes, a lot of people truly need deliverance. But I observed how you skirted round the issue of so-called men of God in dire need of deliverance. By mentioning only Muslim clerics, you were clearly being partisan, due obviously to your religion. You wouldn’t mention this crap about these mercantilist fraudsters parading as Christian men of GOD. I hope you are not already a victim of the criminal brainwashing you spoke about.

“I am a Christian myself but as I always tell people, I am a thinking Christian rather than the mass of mere church-going, tithe-enslaved zombies that especially Pentecostal pastors have successfully created to suit their mad greed for money. Unfortunately, when they play GOD, many believe them. Those who sold the idea of taking certain Christian clerics to Yar’Adua must have convinced the family these characters could actually give him life; and at what cost of our money? These men would collect money from the dead, as they do in the names of gifts, offerings and tithes from roguish and killer political leaders, ritualists, armed robbers, roguish bank chiefs and government officials and all sorts of criminals. They collect money from the poor to establish schools that only children of the rich can attend. No qualms, no conscience. Men of God? Casmir, lets shout it loudly those who truly need deliverance without fear.”

I must say that Tayo and I are on the same page, although we seem to be reading two different paragraphs. My comment on the clerics was strictly based on what they said after their visit to Yar’Adua. It is on record that the Christian leaders didn’t say much except for one of them, Emmanuel Kure, who reportedly said Yar’Adua grunted amen to their prayers.

The Islamic leaders, on the other hand, were quoted to have said that Yar’Adua shook hands with them and sat on a dining chair without any support. The Chief Imam of Abuja, Ustaz Mohammed, said his group was satisfied that Yar’Adua was recovering. “He was in his senses…He had no trouble at all,” he reportedly said.

To Dr. Datti Ahmed, one of the Muslim leaders, “All the stories being written in the media concerning the President are wrong and divisive. If the aim of the sponsors of these write-ups is to remove the President from office, then I think they are making serious miscalculations. Attempting to remove him is a needless diversion and needless waste of time…”

My position is that there is nothing wrong with the visit of the men of God to Yar’Adua. Like doctors, the clerics have the right to visit and attend to the spiritual needs of any individual that invites them. What I found distasteful were certain comments made after the visit and the wrong impressions they created. As for those who questioned why I called Saudi Arabia a secluded society, I can only say no matter how hard a girl tries, she cannot hide a nine-month pregnancy from her mother.

I must emphasise that if there is any group I had attacked on this page more than any other, it is the pastors and some other Christian leaders. I am a Catholic, but I had written against Catholic priests who allowed their libido to overcome their vow of celibacy. I had also criticized some practices I felt were incongruous with the tradition of the church.

No doubt, some self-styled Christian men of God deserve serious deliverance. For instance, a recent story in SUNDAY TRIBUNE had it that a certain pastor of the Christ Rock Apostolic Church at Agbala Imole, Ibadan, raped a 17-year-old girl who came to him for deliverance. Somehow, the matter got to the state Criminal Investigation Department of the Oyo State Police Command. On interrogation, the pastor reportedly claimed that it was the Holy Spirit that removed the girl’s pants while he was praying for her. The interrogators asked the pastor to perform the same magic on a police woman. He failed.

There are many other Nigerians who need deliverance, but space will not allow me to mention all of them. Some readers reminded me that I missed out the name of Nigeria’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Aminchi, in the last piece. I agree with them. The man helped in stoking the fire of uncertainty over Yar’Adua with his half truths and lies. He needs serious deliverance.

I hear the workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria have been threatening to go on strike. Who is missing them even now that they are not yet on strike? That company needs serious deliverance.

By the time we are able to identify and shame those who need serious deliverance in this country, we will have gone a long way in sanitizing the polity.

For those who say I also need deliverance, I thank you.

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