By Hashim Suleiman
I am basically a realist who accepts and work on things as they are and that’s why a lot of people I have related with will hardly identify my creed at first meeting. I equally think it was high time that Nigeria and Nigerians realized some basic facts about various cultures and dealings with a view to formulating strategies that could mitigate the effects that some of these differences cause to our unity and progress. But for now, we’ll have to deal with it.
For me I have long say from mid last year started to come across campaigns which depicted the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as a sectoral bigot who only cares about the Redeemed Christian Church of God Christians in his dealings. Certain data and statistics even went flying to buttress those claims. The narrative didn’t actually catch fire as much but was percolating slowly into the society until last two weeks when a letter purportedly written by the RCCG headquarters to its various arms requesting for the establishment of a political and governance division to guide aspirants from church on strategy etc.
The letter enjoyed wide sharing as you would expect and it culminated in major opinion molders like Kperogi and Dele Momodu jumping into the matter. Kperogi aptly captured the fact that there are very deep sentiments regarding these sects and religion in this country. The only area he missed is the fact that Pantami’s Sheikh-hood cuts across all sects as against Kperogi insinuation that it was to the salafists only. Pantami’s close relationship with Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi amongst leaders of other sects is a well known matter. Dele Momodu on the other hand advised on caution by the church as if by any means such moves were for the emergence of Osinbajo then it was also fair for it to be equally for Deaconess Remi Tinubu and Dele himself whom are all members of the church and aspiring for number one positions too.
Perhaps, the reason why the letter got so much interest was it’s timing. I guess people wondered why such department or division had not been formed and given such attention all through the 23 years of the advent of this second republic. It is also not a hidden fact to the extent that Osinbajo’s body language indicates interest in the presidency even though he has not declared openly. It’s very likely indeed that the purpose of the letter is to promote Osinbajo’s chances, however because the pastors are not politicians, they didn’t realize it could be more harmful than good to the chances of the Vice President as is currently is.
The RRCG gave a perfect narrative that would catch fire and burn all of Osinbajo’s chances in the northern Nigeria, especially the core north where the votes of the popular ‘kardashian’ states is enough to make one president. As it is now, this matter has thrown a big spanner in the wheel of Osinbajo’s presidential ambition if any.
Regardless of how deep this can go, strategies are also countered by strategies and it was the suspicion of the emergence of these kinds of narratives that I wrote and insisted that Pantami was the near perfect fit for the 2023 permutations and I am somewhat vindicated today. The article can be read here: https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2019/11/04/isa-ali-pantami-as-near-perfect-fit-for-the-2023-permutations-by-hashim-suleiman/ . As it is now, Pantami is the only option of a Vice President that can neutralize whatever effect this Redeemed Christian Church bourhaha can have on Osinbajo chances. I don’t see how the Sheikhs and their followers can fear anything when one of their finest is on the joint ticket.
Furthermore, just like Prof Pantami fits into a possible Osinbajo presidency, he equally perfectly fits into any other possible presidential ticket from the southern part of the country, be it Christian or Muslim. Like I always say, Nigerias democracy is developing and only critical strategy can guaranty victory, there will hardly ever be cheap victories going forward.
We are watching!
Hashim Suleiman can be reached at: [email protected]